Grand Prix Classic

1984 Season Driver Review

1. Niki LAUDA (McLaren)
72 Wins: 5 Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 4th) Fastest Laps: 5
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 11 Points Finishes: 10

At the 1983 South African Grand Prix, everything looked rosy for Lauda. He had a car and engine capable of challenging, and a team-mate he could handle in John Watson. However, the signing of Prost threatened to turn things upside down, especially when the Frenchman won first time out in Brazil while Lauda retired. He responded with a well-taken victory in South Africa, and a fascinating duel began.

There was little doubt that over a single lap, Prost was the faster of the two - a glance at the qualifying statistics makes that one beyond debate, and Lauda never beat Prost in a fair fight. But Lauda used his experience to the full, and played to his strengths. A typical 1984 Lauda race was to qualify relatively badly, move up to a good position early on and wait while others asked too much of their cars, then maximise his opportunities. His careful approach meant he didn't spin on Piquet's oil in Austria, and that he was able to pass Tambay in Italy just when he needed to.

He made a couple of mistakes across the season - spinning out at Monaco and clipping a wall in Dallas. The latter he got away with because Prost did the same, the former made up for by his better reliability. If he never took Prost on in a straight fight, it was because he never really needed to, and Lauda always kept a cool head and played the long game. Simply for the craft shown by the man who defines the word 'wily', Lauda was a deserving champion.

2. Alain PROST (McLaren)
71.5 Wins: 7 Pole Positions: 3 Fastest Laps: 3
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 11 Points Finishes: 10

Having been made the scapegoat and fired by Renault in 1983, Alain Prost fitted in perfectly at Ron Dennis' McLaren. His presence brought the best out of Niki Lauda, he was a dream for the team's engineers and for the Porsche technicians. For his part, the Frenchman was notably more relaxed for the change, and appreciated the transparent management layout of his new team - simply compare and contrast his demeanour in the closing races of 1983 with his coolness at Estoril.

On speed alone, there were few who could match him. As usual, it was often outwardly difficult to tell. Compared to Rosberg or Piquet his qualifying laps were tame to watch, but almost constantly quick. In race trim he once again rolled out the same smooth, almost effortless performance which only Piquet could ever match. And when he needed to, he could turn it up even more - while it was only rewarded with 7th place, his speed in the closing stages at Dijon was remarkable. He could nurse a car when it was needed too.

The only question mark hung over his occasional mistakes under pressure. No-one else hit de Angelis' oil in Austria, and he threw nine points (and, with hindsight the title) away at Dallas with a simple loss of concentration. He did suffer bad luck more than Lauda, though - at both Brands and Monza he was running ahead of the Austrian when mechanical trouble ended his race, and Lauda won both races. Most importantly, though, he seems to have accepted defeat in the title by the ridiculous margin of half a point with remarkable maturity, which bodes well for 1985.

3. Elio DE ANGELIS (Lotus)
34 Wins: 0 (Best Finish: 2nd) Pole Positions: 1 Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 12 Points Finishes: 11

Once more de Angelis remained something of an enigma. He began the season with a great pole position at Rio, and might have won but for a misfire. After that, traumatised by his shocking 1983, he went back into his shell and stockpiled a remarkable string of points finishes. Then at Hockenheim he seemed to wake up and realise he actually had a genuine shot at the title. For seven laps he unlocked the skill that's always been lurking and drove like a champion, only for the engine to fail. And then he promptly went back in his box.

In qualifying, he was generally the fastest of the Lotus drivers, starting from the top 6 thirteen times. In races he tended to drive conservatively, trimming back the boost and preserving his tyres, whereas Mansell tended to be more pyrotechnic and attention-seeking. By contrast, de Angelis maintained placings with such ease and consistency that his presence was sometimes taken for granted.

Having a more competitive car did seem to iron out some of his foibles. There were still moments of petulance - his blocking job on his own team-mate in Montreal was mindless, while the diatribe he unleashed at Streiff in Portugal was also unbecoming. Hostilities with Mansell remained, but he also showed better character under adversity - in dreadful conditions at Monaco he drove hard after an early pitstop and would likely have finished well if the race had gone the distance, and at the Nürburgring he responded to a nightmare practice with a superb race performance which again didn't get the reward it merited. In 1984, de Angelis grew up a lot, and this time it was little surprise the team retained him.

4. Michele ALBORETO (Ferrari)
34 Wins: 1 Pole Positions: 1 Fastest Laps: 1
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 8 Points Finishes: 7

The pressure of being an Italian driving for Ferrari is astonishing, but if one man could take the weight it would be the quiet, smooth Alboreto. That he did it without the Ferrari being quite the competitive proposition it had been the previous two seasons spoke volumes.

He raised hopes by leading in Brazil before brake problems, and then dominated at Zolder. However, thereafter the car was rarely truly competitive, while Alboreto's example was rarely reliable. However, he took chances when they came his way, and while his late-season run of scores were down to the failures of others, he deserved his luck.

Most importantly, he obliterated Arnoux - only at Dallas did the Frenchman really have the advantage. Alboreto never gave up and phoned it in, and made few outright mistakes across the year, though various problems testing revealed shortcomings as a development driver. He was about the only member of the team to escape a comparatively disappointing 1984 season with much credit, however.

5. Nelson PIQUET (Brabham)
29 Wins: 2 Pole Positions: 9 Fastest Laps: 3
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 7 Points Finishes: 5

For the second time, Piquet found the defence of his title rendered mission impossible by the unreliability of his car. A disastrous run of six retirements in the opening six races all but ended his chances, but then came two wins in eight days and suddenly McLaren weren't looking so dominant.

The challenge lost momentum almost immediately with a crash ended a poor weekend in Dallas and boost problems at Brands, but even though Piquet soon fell out of the title hunt he was always a major factor in the race. On-song, which was more often than not, he could either match or beat Prost and McLaren - but only as long as the car held. He led 241 laps, more than anyone but Prost.

The maturity shown in 1983 didn't disappear even if the car was letting him down, and he remained relaxed throughout a difficult season - even managing to share a smile with Alboreto after losing second place on the last corner at the European Grand Prix. Even if things didn't go his way in 1984, he remained the man to beat.

6. Rene ARNOUX (Ferrari)
27 Wins: 0 (Best Finish: 2nd) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 2nd) Fastest Laps: 2
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 12 Points Finishes: 9

If Arnoux's debut year with Ferrari could best be described as uneven, his second was a major disappointment. In the first half of the season, much like de Angelis, he seemed to always be surviving to bring home the points, if never really in contention for race wins. At Dallas he drove a superb race after starting from the back, picking through the field with remarkable speed and precision which suggested he might have won but for losing his grid position.

However, in the second half of the year he was something he'd never been before - anonymous. Arnoux frequently destroyed his tyres without even making much impression while doing so, and his testing expertise was non-existent, making Alboreto look like Chris Amon. From Hockenheim onwards it is difficult to find anything particularly notable to mention, beyond his mindless sideswipe of Boutsen at Zandvoort - which could have had very serious consequences; it wasn't the first time he had indulged in this sort of thing - indeed, at Monaco he made a determined attempt to shove Bellof into the wall, echoing his mindless block of Laffite the year before - but it suggested a certain mindlessness.

In the last seven races of the year he only qualified in the top 10 twice, and generally seemed to have his mind elsewhere, unwilling to show his usual fight with the disappointing 126C4. If any doubts remained that Ferrari had made the wrong choice in dropping Tambay at the end of 1983, Arnoux's frequent lacklustre performances eradicated them.

7. Derek WARWICK (Renault)
23 Wins: 0 (Best Finish: 2nd) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 3rd) Fastest Laps: 1
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 6 Points Finishes: 5

In Rio, it looked like Warwick was going to be a contender, leading comfortably until a suspension failure. In the next three races he took canny points finishes and sat second in the standings. However, Renault's fuel consumption problems compromised the first half of the year, and Warwick's mid-season was a catalogue of crashes and mechanical failures, ranging from an unfortunate gearbox failure at Detroit when a result looked on the cards to a banal show of impatience at Dallas.

It was something of a relief when he survived to finish 2nd at Brands Hatch, and a 3rd place at Hockenheim suggested Warwick might be past the worst of it. However, things dropped off once again as mechanical problems began to mount, and his season petered out. Indeed, by the final few rounds he was on the back foot to the resurgent Tambay.

It all made for something of an anticlimax after all the promise of his Toleman days and his instant acclimatisation to being a front runner early in the season, though Warwick's speed and willing never disappeared despite trying circumstances and a team that seemed further from winning the championship than ever.

8. Keke ROSBERG (Williams)
20.5 Wins: 1 Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 2nd) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 6 Points Finishes: 5

Rosberg finally got his turbo in 1984, but it didn't match the brochure. The Honda V6 had power, but a sluggish delivery and was fitted to an uncooperative Williams chassis which couldn't have been more of a mismatch to his style. On top of that, the thing was far from reliable. That even Rosberg found the FW09 undriveable at the Osterreichring said an awful lot about the car's shortcomings.

However, in circumstances where many would lose heart, Rosberg simply threw the thing around the best he could. Sure, he was vocally cynical, but once he was on track Rosberg's inner racer took over. His qualifying laps were thrilling to watch, and his races weren't bad either as he frequently put the badly behaved car places it didn't belong.

The cool, calculated win at Dallas was fair recompense for his efforts - even if his criticism of Mansell was somewhat hypocritical. Even though the next six races brought six retirements, at Estoril he still forced the car into the lead just as he had in Kyalami, fighting off Prost as if he was the man battling for the title despite the visible understeer the thing had. That his fire still burned after such a frustrating season said it all.

9= Ayrton SENNA (Toleman)
13 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 2nd) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 3rd) Fastest Laps: 0
15 Starts: 14 Finishes: 6 Points Finishes: 5

Almost straight away Senna showed he was more than just a promising newcomer to the Grand Prix scene, almost instantly matching Warwick's best times in the Toleman at Kyalami and overshadowing the more experienced Cecotto. From there on he seemed to improve at almost every race, culminating in the genuine front-running performance at Estoril.

Early on he was held back by the inconsistent Pirelli tyres, the ageing TG183B and his own lack of physical stamina, twice finishing races in a state of exhaustion. These problems were all solved by mid-season, and at Monaco he gave a breathtaking display of car control before the race was controversially stopped. From there on he became virtually a fixture in the top 10 in practice, even if the car often let him down

The Lotus affair tainted the end of the season but it couldn't hide his results. He was intense and single-minded to the point of occasional rudeness, but even that showed he was simply focused. Senna wasn't there to make up the numbers, and he has the talent to match his attitude.

9= Nigel MANSELL (Lotus)
13 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 3rd) Pole Positions: 1 Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 4 Points Finishes: 4

If de Angelis was the fastest of the Lotus drivers over one lap, Mansell was the one who seemed to catch the eye more in races. He kept up the strong form shown in the second half of 1983 admirably, and seemed the most likely to secure a win of the pair.

However, the two races he led summed up his strengths and weaknesses in a nutshell. Firstly there was his bravery and car control at Monaco, where he kept right with Prost despite the spray and took the lead in style, before pulling away at a far from sensible pace and then blaming the subsequent crash on a painted line. Then at Dallas he took pole, led away and then blocked all comers with a resolve which turned to stubbornness, before the epic attempt to push his car home.

Mansell's courage in the car is unquestionable, and his car control on street circuits proved that he isn't just a daredevil. He was at home on faster circuits too, but his bravery continued to outstrip his skill by a large enough margin that he got caught out from time to time. And while he did lose a lot of points through mechanical problems, the question has to be asked why de Angelis' car finished so regularly and his didn't, and whether his physical style was a factor in the breakdowns.

11. Patrick TAMBAY (Renault)
11 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 2nd) Pole Positions: 1 Fastest Laps: 1
15 Starts: 15 Finishes: 7 Points Finishes: 4

Tambay's season was on the rocks right from the start with Renault's fuel consumption problems severely hindering him in the opening races, while he didn't seem able to match Warwick's speed either. At Dijon it looked like things might change as he was able to at least challenge the McLarens in a straight fight, but a fortnight later came his crash at Monaco, derailing the season just as he looked to be finding some speed.

Thereafter there was a horrible mid-season where the cars weren't reliable and more often than not weren't particularly fast either. He survived this period nicely, and whereas Warwick never really got back into his groove, Tambay responded with some fine drives - even if they went largely unrewarded.

At Monza especially he was scintillating - the first time since Dijon that a Renault looked like a genuine threat to McLaren and Brabham in a straight fight, while Warwick floundered and fought with the Alfas - but once again mechanical problems robbed him of points. It was a very disappointing season, but rarely were things the driver's fault.

12. Teo FABI (Brabham)
9 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 3rd) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 5th) Fastest Laps: 0
12 Starts: 12 Finishes: 4 Points Finishes: 3

The quiet, elder Fabi's season was horribly compromised by his decision to run in both F1 and CART in 1984, but at least he realised this after neither drive came out well, the Italian always wasting a day's practice in either discipline simply getting used to the car.

Once he switched to Formula 1 full-time, he improved swiftly, culminating in a fighting performance at Monza. Before that he looked amateurish, having seemingly made no progress since his season at Toleman. It was arguable that the damage had been done, though, as Brabham revolved around Piquet as it was, meaning Fabi's absenteeism saw him relegated to a Rebaque-level number 2, rather than a Patrese-level number 2.

He showed speed over a single lap and put together some good charges in races too, but he also seemed prone to overdriving, trying to make up for his earlier problems. That the Brabham was so fragile didn't help, but when everything was running well and he was focused at least it let his natural speed shine through.

13. Riccardo PATRESE (Alfa Romeo)
9 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 3rd) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 7th) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 6 Points Finishes: 3

Having turned down reduced terms at Brabham to be a very well-paid team leader at Alfa Romeo, Patrese then spend most of the season being shown the way round by supposed number 2 Cheever. The pair were in open warfare for much of the season after Patrese's childish behaviour in practice at Monaco, and the Italian's less likeable personality traits resurfaced at times.

He ended up with the better results of the pair, but only because of a late-season trio of finishes with the car's boost turned down, and waiting for others to hit problems. While it was a respectable response to the team's season-long consumption issues, it brought the driver's motivation into question - Cheever couldn't do it, he had to race and damn the consequences. Patrese, by contrast, was more than happy to tour around and collect his retainer, and if he got some placings out of it, so be it.

There were the odd flashes of Patrese's abundant natural talent throughout the season, but these were few and far between, and with a second year at Alfa Romeo with an unchanged situation, it's difficult to see where change will come from.

14= Jacques LAFFITE (Williams)
5 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 4th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 8th) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 5 Points Finishes: 2

After a difficult first year back with Williams, Laffite promised to be much faster in 1984. However, on receiving the reluctant FW09 and the brutal Honda V6, he was arguably even more reserved. At 41 years old, he simply did not fancy risking things to turn 18th on the grid into 17th. A rear wheel detaching when heading for third at Kyalami was enough for Laffite, and after that he largely drove well within himself aside from the odd flourish such as the early stages at Zandvoort

While there was nothing as wretched as the double DNQ near the end of 1983, there were none of the high points of the previous season either. Both his top 6 finishes came through simply driving around slowly - at Detroit he was last, the only lapped runner; at Dallas he beat a puncture-delayed Ghinzani, a gearbox-troubled Mansell, an exhausted Corrado Fabi and the bent ATS of Winkelhock.

However, he contributed more to Williams off track than on it during a difficult year for the team. His effervescent personality remained in evidence for the most part, despite his frustration as changes to the car were to Rosberg's liking rather than his own (their respective preferred setups were probably more opposed than any other pairing on show in 1984), and Formula 1 would be a sadder place without him.

14= Thierry BOUTSEN (Arrows)
5 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 5th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 11th) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 15 Finishes: 7 Points Finishes: 3

Boutsen's first full season of Grand Prix racing was far from satisfying for the quiet Belgian as Arrows struggled to marry the volatile BMW engine with the difficult A7 chassis. It was not the best setting for a young charger wanting to catch the eye, and yet Boutsen responded with maturity.

He has such an old head on his shoulders it was hard to remember he was so inexperienced, but to solely praise his level temperament is to miss that he is also very quick. There were few opportunities to really show this in 1984, but when they came up he took them with both hands. His fighting drive at Zandvoort (terminated by the mindless Arnoux) and duel with Surer in Austria were high points.

Boutsen also worked hard developing the Arrows car despite the team's limited budget, and could be happy with himself as the car gradually began to shed its' handling foibles. It was a season of learning, but Boutsen is more likely to put the lessons to good use than others might be.

16= Eddie CHEEVER (Alfa Romeo)
3 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 4th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 8th) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 15 Finishes: 6 Points Finishes: 1

If the fuel regulations hadn't existed, or races had been five laps shorter, Eddie Cheever would have had a decent season and probably placed well into the top 10. But they did, and they weren't, and so the sight of Cheever pulling off the circuit in the closing stages when points seemed in his grasp became a regular one.

His driving was as good as ever, despite Alfa Romeo's ongoing problems with their turbocharged V8, which weren't just limited to the engine's absurd fuel consumption. While he and Patrese were evenly matched in qualifying trim, in the races the tall American dominated. His car control, especially in the wet, was spectacular - which made it all the more shame that Patrese neglected to share his setup discoveries at Monaco; had Cheever qualified for the monsoon-like race he would have scored big points.

As it was, he suffered from being a pure racer. Cheever would have been on the podium at Monza if he'd ran with minimal boost and settled in midfield waiting for others to drop out. But then if he'd done that he wouldn't be Cheever.

16= Stefan JOHANSSON (Tyrrell, Toleman)
3 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 4th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 10th) Fastest Laps: 0
7 Starts: 6 Finishes: 2 Points Finishes: 1

1984 seemed to be the latest chapter in Johansson's hard luck story - dropped by Spirit for financial reasons over the winter, he then managed to land a Tyrrell seat to cover Brundle just as the lead ballast scandal was in full swing, and just as the season reached circuits which penalised the Cosworth-engined cars drastically. He immediately matched the highly rated Bellof, and was almost as spectacular when driving to boot.

However, after the Tyrrell opportunity had expired with the team's final disqualification, he got some good luck at last, subbing for Senna at Monza. Finally given a competitive car, he was one of the stars of the show. The only surprise was that it had taken so long, and he was on track for 3rd before a wheel bearing failed. Toleman immediately signed him to replace the outgoing Brazilian.

The next race he made a superb dash from the back of the grid at the Nürburgring before the engine overheated, and then kept Lauda nicely tucked up at Estoril. Had the world champion elect not broken the Toleman's nose when he finally got by, he would have scored well there as well.

16= Andrea de CESARIS (Ligier)
3 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 5th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 7th) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 16 Finishes: 7 Points Finishes: 2

After the steady improvement of his two years at Alfa Romeo, de Cesaris regressed somewhat in 1984. It wasn't entirely his fault - the Ligier wasn't a classic when it first appeared, and the team stagnated badly from mid-season onwards - but it did bring out his bad traits again.

In the opening stages of the season there were some real signs of promise. His drive from the pitlane to 3rd at a circuit as tight as Imola was praiseworthy, even if the car running dry was inevitable, and he excelled in practice at Monaco, only to get thumped by his own team-mate in the murk at the first corner.

After that, things fell apart rapidly. There was a weekend straight out of his McLaren days at Detroit, and a pigheaded battle with the Ferraris at Brands. Then even those sparks faded, and he seemed content to run with Hesnault in midfield towards the end of the year, a sad indictment of the wasted resources of the Vichy team.

19. Piercarlo GHINZANI (Osella)
2 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 5th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 18th) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 14 Finishes: 5 Points Finishes: 1

The affable Ghinzani made solid progress in 1984, and impressed those looking closely enough to notice his efforts near the tail of the field. The latest Osella wasn't a bad machine, and he made the best of it, often showing up more feted combinations along the way.

His year got off to a difficult start with his massive crash at Kyalami, and he won a lot of respect by turning up at Zolder with the bandages still on his hands, determined to race. He showed some surprising speed on occasion too - his result at Dallas wasn't down to simple attrition, and he might have placed better but for a puncture. On the other hand, his brief grasp on 4th place at Monza was down to attrition, but it was hard not to feel for him when the tank ran dry.

He showed a good turn of speed on several other circuits (Monaco, Detroit, Brands Hatch) and when the car actually ran properly (the Kyalami crash showed Osellas were safe again, but they still weren't reliable) he often showed well in practice, and also enjoyed the challenge of having Gartner in the team.

20. Marc SURER (Arrows)
1 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 6th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 14th) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 14 Finishes: 5 Points Finishes: 1

Having driven so brilliantly in 1983, Surer was something of a disappointment in 1984. The problems seem to be routed in the troublesome turbo Arrows - there were all the right flourishes in the first few races, even if his beloved A7 (Surer had actually bought one of the cars from the team at the end of the previous season) was less competitive than ever.

However, once the BMW car arrived he seemed to lose heart, and Boutsen did much of the development, Surer only abandoning the DFV car when Arrows ran out of chassis. Thereafter he seemed somewhat disillusioned by it all, especially when he was struck with numerous mechanical problems.

The prospect of a good dice stoked the fires at times - he and Boutsen must have knocked several years off Jackie Oliver's life with their late duel at the Osterreichring - but towards the end of the year he looked like someone who had fallen out of love with Grand Prix racing.

21. Jo GARTNER (Osella)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 5th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 22nd) Fastest Laps: 0
8 Starts: 8 Finishes: 4 Points Finishes: 0

Being the official test and reserve driver for a back of the grid outfit like Osella isn't a dream post for a Grand Prix driver, but Gartner made the best of things, and when a second turbo car became available, he made the best of the opportunity.

He had already debuted at Imola in the old V12 car, qualifying through the problems of others, but did well once he got his hands on the turbo. Often the toothy Austrian was close to Ghinzani in terms of pace in both practice and races, though he was often wild - his home race packed more incident in a few laps than some drivers managed all season.

He drove sensibly to take 5th place at Monza, however - a good result for the team and its' sponsors even if FIA rules meant he earned no points for it, but on the other hand in his half-season developed something of a reputation for being stubborn and difficult when lapped. But the truth was he was more deserving of his place on the grid than several others.

22. Gerhard BERGER (ATS)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 6th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 18th) Fastest Laps: 0
4 Starts: 4 Finishes: 3 Points Finishes: 0

After a lot of graft and a cadre of local sponsors, the tall personable Berger finally made it into F1 with an ATS team which was disintegrating rapidly. This considered he did an admirable job. There were some rough moments, but - the first corner collision with Surer at the Nürburgring aside - these were largely confined to practice.

He also nursed the thing home twice despite the ramshackle preparation of the car, including a sensible run to 6th at Monza despite a troublesome gearbox, and came close enough on his debut to be classified.

All in all, what could have been a farce led to a fairly impressive few races for a promising driver.

23. Francois HESNAULT (Ligier)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 7th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 13th) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 15 Finishes: 5 Points Finishes: 0

Coming out of basically nowhere to take the second seat at Ligier, no-one expected much out of Hesnault, and in a way they were right - he did little to catch the eye. However, he was a lot more competent than many expected.

The problem was the Ligier chassis, and a novice like Hesnault was never going to be able to overcome an obstacle like that. He did his best, didn't crash the thing very often and generally didn't disgrace himself.

At times he was able to keep pace with de Cesaris nicely (including a wonderful dice at Hockenheim), but at the same time the Italian didn't have a classic season, making an evaluation of Hesnault's skill difficult.

24. Corrado FABI (Brabham)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 7th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 11th) Fastest Laps: 0
3 Starts: 3 Finishes: 1 Points Finishes: 0

Brought into the Brabham team as a result of the most bizarre seat arrangements in the history of the sport, the younger Fabi had the job of covering big brother Teo whenever his CART commitments clashed with the Grand Prix calendar.

It meant that Corrado had very little seat time - Piquet was dominant enough in the team to keep a full-time number 2 in the shade, let alone a fill-in. Fabi for his part was already on the back foot after a traumatising year with Osella, and it took until his third drive at Dallas for any sort of form to appear.

There he outqualified Piquet and fought exhaustion to come home 7th, but his season was ended shortly afterwards when Teo opted to quit Indycars and concentrate on Formula 1 instead.

25. Mauro BALDI (Spirit)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 8th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 20th) Fastest Laps: 0
8 Starts: 7 Finishes: 4 Points Finishes: 0

Despite the results being poorer, 1984 was Baldi's best year yet in Formula 1. Sponsorship considerations saw him limited to half of the races - the first six and last two rounds.

However, when he was driving, Baldi handled the little Spirit nicely. He only failed to make the cut for Monaco, with its' 20-car grid. In races, he was careful, didn't give up and was no slouch either - usually comfortably ahead of the RAMs and nipping at the heels of the Osellas.

His drive through to 8th place at the Nürburgring was a great result for the little team, and it would be a shame, if not a shock, to see Baldi and Spirit disappear over the winter.

26. Manfred WINKELHOCK (ATS, Brabham)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 8th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 6th) Fastest Laps: 0
15 Starts: 12 Finishes: 3 Points Finishes: 0

After being fast but cursed for most of 1983, Winkelhock continued in the same vein for much of 1984. Once again the ATS was a fast little car, hamstrung by a team in constant turmoil.

Winkelhock proved his talent with 6th on the grid at Zolder, running a very strong 4th until firstly the Pirellis faded and then the electrics broke down. It was the best of a fistful of early strong performances, but by mid-season even his bravery and enthusiasm was dulled by an endless string of avoidable problems.

His attitude soon turned to one of disbelief when the team tried to run two cars (resulting in a downright cantankerous performance at Zandvoort), and after having his machine pushed off the grid for the second time in three races at Monza it became too much for him. It was a nice postscript to a difficult season when he got to stand in for Brabham at Estoril and gave a respectable account of himself, looking much more relaxed in the confines of a proper racing team.

27. Jonathan PALMER (RAM)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 8th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 21st) Fastest Laps: 0
15 Starts: 14 Finishes: 6 Points Finishes: 0

A Formula 2 title, many miles of testing and a Grand Prix start for Williams weren't enough to prepare Palmer for the horrors he would face in 1984. The plain and simple truth was the RAM was the worst chassis in the series, and by quite a margin.

More often than not Palmer's only attainable target was to beat team-mate Alliot, which he usually managed, if not by the margin their respective credentials would have suggested. Was it a case of a bad car levelling their abilities, of a career in the lower formulae being worth little in Grand Prix, or was it simply down to Palmer not living up to the hype pumped out by his enthusiastic managerial team?

It would be difficult to say exactly, though a little of each is the most likely solution. The upshot was that Palmer only really attracted attention when blocking leaders. He would argue that it was largely down to the ill-handling RAM, and there was some truth in that, but it was an embarrassing season for the racing doctor either way.

28. Huub ROTHENGATTER (Spirit)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 8th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 22nd) Fastest Laps: 0
8 Starts: 7 Finishes: 2 Points Finishes: 0

The pleasant Dutchman took over from Baldi at Spirit thanks to his funding, and performed well in trying circumstances. He wasn't far off the Italian's pace even if he struggled with Pirelli qualifiers, but like Baldi he knew what the team needed and delivered.

His determination was laudable, best illustrated by the three races where he lost huge amounts of time in the pits, but pressed on regardless despite having no hope of even being classified. The way the Dutch public received Rothengatter at his home race was one of the most feel-good moments of the year too.

While Rothengatter wasn't exactly quick, Formula 1 has seen much worse pay drivers, and his cheerful demeanour and obvious enthusiasm for simply driving the car were a welcome sight.

29. Johnny CECOTTO (Toleman)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 9th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 15th) Fastest Laps: 0
10 Starts: 9 Finishes: 1 Points Finishes: 0

Cecotto's experience in 1984 showed the gulf between a capable driver and a brilliant one. After being quietly impressive in the Theodore the previous season, he was on the back foot at Toleman from the start. Having been the best newcomer in 1983, suddenly Cecotto was old news.

It didn't help that the team understandably gravitated to Senna from the first tests, and left Cecotto - only in his second year of Formula 1, and his first with a turbo - relatively unsupported. The Venezuelan did seem to have the bigger reliability woes, but also crashed a couple of times trying to keep up with his team-mate.

Of course, his season ended prematurely with a big crash at Brands Hatch, and this was down to driver error when he asked too much of cold brakes at the tricky Kent circuit. It was a sad end to a difficult year, and possibly a motor racing career.

30. Philippe ALLIOT (RAM)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: 10th) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 20th) Fastest Laps: 0
16 Starts: 13 Finishes: 3 Points Finishes: 0

Alliot hadn't made much of an impression in junior categories, and largely won a seat with RAM through sponsorship. As he brought more of this than Palmer, he was nominally the team's number one driver. In practice, the main advantage of this was he got to sample the delights of the RAM 02 a couple of races earlier than Palmer.

The Frenchman didn't exactly embarrass himself - the car was diabolical, so there wasn't much for a novice to do except hang around at the back of the grid and not humiliate himself.

Alliot largely managed this, and was rarely far from Palmer's pace. He did get involved in a few too many crashes (culminating in being unable to start at Dallas when he wrecked the thing beyond immediate repair), and like Palmer was a mobile chicane on occasion, but it was difficult to draw any grand conclusions due to the awful machinery he was saddled with.

31. Martin BRUNDLE (Tyrrell)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: N/A) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 11th) Fastest Laps: 0
9 Starts: 7 Finishes: 0 Points Finishes: 0

Given a car he could really race, Martin Brundle paid back Ken Tyrrell's faith in oodles. He didn't quite have the abundant natural speed of Bellof, but he was still bloody fast, and his smoothness kept him on about the same level as the German.

While his second place in Detroit is always going to be tainted by the lead balls scandal, his superb debut in Rio showed his skill. Brundle was also running ahead of Bellof at Imola, and not far behind at Zolder only to retire from both.

He did have two big crashes. Brundle bounced back from the first, at Monaco, without any sort of after effect, but it remains to be seen if he can come back as strongly from the Fair Park shunt and its' related layoff.

32. Stefan BELLOF (Tyrrell)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: N/A) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 16th) Fastest Laps: 0
12 Starts: 11 Finishes: 0 Points Finishes: 0

Only Rosberg was more entertaining from a spectator point of view than the German. Bellof treated the Tyrrell like a Formula Ford, having the time of his life battling with the turbo cars and his own team-mate, who proved a good foil.

His starts were exceptional, often nullifying his mediocre qualifying form, and he respected few reputations when battling away. Zolder was his first real chance and he took it with both hands.

Shortly after came Monaco, where Bellof was simply peerless in the wet, and was gaining on Senna at a rate of knots when the race ended. He was more accident-prone than Brundle, however - he probably would have followed the Englishman home at Detroit but for hitting a wall, and performed the same trick in Dallas too. Like Brundle he didn't deserve his fine efforts to be tarred by FISA's ballast accusations.

33. Philippe STREIFF (Renault)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: N/A) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 13th) Fastest Laps: 0
1 Starts: 1 Finishes: 0 Points Finishes: 0

Having tested frequently for Renault since 1982, Philippe Streiff was given a third car for the Portuguese Grand Prix as a gesture of thanks for hard work. Earlier in the year he had been linked with taking over Palmer's RAM for the Canadian Grand Prix, but instead chose to stick with Fitzpatrick Racing for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

His Grand Prix debut was far from auspicious, sadly. The Renault wasn't competitive at Estoril anyway, but Streiff blotted his copybook by colliding heavily with de Angelis in practice, and then span out of midfield early on. He continued until a driveshaft failed, but showed little to persuade Grand Prix teams to sign him when his Renault contract expires.

34. Mike THACKWELL (RAM, Tyrrell)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: N/A) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: 25th) Fastest Laps: 0
2 Starts: 1 Finishes: 0 Points Finishes: 0

Four years after making history as the youngest man to qualify for a Grand Prix, Formula 2 champion-to-be Thackwell returned to Montreal to substitute in Jonathan Palmer's RAM. Having spent little time in the car, he did all that could reasonably be expected of him, outqualifying and out-racing Alliot before retirement.

The showing meant Ken Tyrrell turned to him to substitute for Bellof at Hockenheim. The car was always going to struggle on the long straights and there was no shame in missing the grid - indeed, he was very close to Johansson from the off, and reportedly features in Tyrrell's plans for 1985 if contract wrangles prevent him from retaining Bellof.

35. Pierluigi MARTINI (Toleman)
0 Wins: 0 (Best Result: N/A) Pole Positions: 0 (Best Grid Position: N/A) Fastest Laps: 0
1 Starts: 0 Finishes: 0 Points Finishes: 0

Having been involved in the Parmalat-inspired Italian driver parade for Brabham at the end of 1983, and done a little testing for the same team in 1984, Pierluigi Martini was parachuted into the Toleman team with minimal notice at Candy's behest for the race at Monza.

The Italian proved to be quite out of his depth, having barely sat in the car before practice, and there was little surprise when he failed to qualify, despite having a competitive car underneath him. It seemed to be a case of wrong car, wrong time for Martini, a debut almost as painful as Roberto Moreno's Lotus drive in 1982.