The results of the six months testing and development carried out by the teams since the last race of 1982, was clearly seen in the Brazilian paddock, with new designs, revamped cars, engine installations, new colours, new names, new sponsors and an on. Not for a long time has a new season started with so much interest, occasioned partly by the new FISA rules banning under-car aerodynamics within the wheelbase and further restrictions on rear aero-foils and their positioning together with a reduction in minimum weight, but mainly for the fact that the break between the last race of 1982 and the first of 1983 has been long enough for the teams to get organised on the “new” in a serious manner. Previously there was a tendency for the first race of a new season to be something of a left-over from the previous season. Official announcements of new cars were organised during the winter months for Brabham, Tyrrell, McLaren, Lotus, Renault and Toleman-Hart, while others merely let the news leak out unheralded.
Williams: A redesign of the 1982 FW08 to satisfy the new regulations resulted in the FW08C and there were two new ones in Brazil, FW08C/7 for Rosberg and FW08C/8 for Laffite with FW08/6 from last year uprated to C-specification. Patrick Head has gone the route of doing away with side-pods by the cockpit and putting the radiators back alongside the Cosworth V8 engine. The whole car has been redesigned to save weight, with the new 540 kg. limit in mind, and to make it very nimble and handleable round the corners, accepting the knowledge that it probably will not bean quick down the straights on sheer maximum speed, due to the limitation of the power from the John Judd developed Cosworth V8 engines compared to turbo-charged engines. A surprise was the plan to start the race with a half a tank of fuel and soft tyres and make a planned pit-stop. Their strategy of 1982 where they set the car up to be better balanced in the latter half of the race than in the opening stages, seemed a much better idea.
Tyrrell: After a year in the financial wilderness without a major backer the Tyrrell team now has money from the Italian clothing manufacturer Benetton and last year’s cars 011/6 and 011/2 have undergone total rebuilds and modifications to bring them into line with the rules, and like Williams, they have gone for the narrow monocoque line with the radiators moved right back to the engine bay. The team now glows with a bright green colour scheme.
Brabham: Only a week before the Brazilian event the third of the new Brabham BT52 cars was being shown to the press in Munich, while number 1 had done some brief running at Brands Hatch painted a funny camouflage colour to try and outwit the press cameras, and number 2 was sent to Brazil straight from the workshops. After experimenting with a 1983 mock-up car in the form of the BT51, Gordon Murray and David North produced an entirely new car in the BT52. Its biggest innovation was the use of carbon fibre composite for the monocoque, the adoption of link-operated, coil-spring suspension “upside down” compared to last year, an incredibly slim nose, with large front aerofoil and a concentration of the weight rearwards, as well as moving the driving position further back. The carbon fibre composite monocoque is carried upwards behind the cockpit, into a solid regulation roll-over bar and the cockpit sides are very high, while the fore-and-aft strength of the cockpit area is far more than the minimum called for by FISA regulations. The BMW turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine has had the exhaust system and KKK turbo unit re-positioned much further back on the left side and the radiators and inter-coolers have all been moved back alongside the engine, leaving a pod-less slim monocoque. The front suspension can now be called “push-rod operated” as distinct from “pull-rod operated” as the spring units are now anchored at the bottom and the tubular operating rods push on a linkage at the top, pressing the spring down as the wheel rises. The gearbox has undergone a complete redesign, resulting in a slimmer unit soda major change has been made in switching from Goodyear tyres to Michelin tyres. Piquet drove BT52/3, Patrese drove BT52/2 and the spare car was BT52/1. After some winter-time dickering about on the financial front Parmalat Foods retained advertising space on the cars and are joined by Fila, an Italian firm who make sports clothing. The real race-winning sponsorship comes from BMW of Munich who supply the engines.
McLaren: With everyone at McLaren International eagerly awaiting the new Porsche turbo-charged 1½-litre V6 engine, which the Saudi firm TAG are paying for, John Barnard has revamped last year’s Marlboro backed MP4 cars. The major change, apart from the regulation flat underside, is to reprofile the side pods to form ducts that feed the air cleanly through the rear suspension area to create a down-force on the flat undertray at the rear of the car. These interim cars are called MP4/1C and are due to use the new short-stroke, higher revving Cosworth V8 engine designated DFY, but they were not ready for Brazil. The three cars in use were MP4/1C/7, MP4/1C/6 and MP4/1C/4, the last one being the spare.
ATS: Gunther Schmid’s team have started on a whole new world with BMW supplying them with a turbo-charged 4-cylinder Munich engine and Gustav Brunner has designed a fairly conventional car around the engine package. This team have never been able to cope with car designations, having vacillated between a D5 and a D6 last year with Cosworth power, and this new ATS-BMW is called D6 at the moment. There was only one car for Manfred Winkelhock, who seems to be a blue-eyed boy at the Munich factory.
Lotus: For any team to lose their leader is hard, but for Team Lotus to lose Cohn Chapman so tragically last December was the sort of blow that would make lesser people crumble. A very ambitious programme was under way at the time of Colin’s death and Peter Wright and Peter Warr and everyone else at Team Lotus determined to carry on with “the old man’s plans”. Until such time as Renault can supply sufficient turbo-charged V6 engines for the team Elio de Angelis is comitted to the single Lotus 93T/1 with Renault power, and Nigel Mansell is committed to the latest Cosworth development car in the shape of the Lotus 92. As this series of cars continues with the same basic monocoque as the Lotus 91 the can numbers continue. The last car in 1982 was 91/9, so the first new car for 1983 is 92/10. Car number 5 from last year has been rebuilt into 92/5 as a spare. While de Angelis does the initial racing with Renault turbopower, Mansell does the initial racing with new hydraulic suspension control experiments. Hopefully, halfway through the season all this experimental work will come together in the definitive 1983 Lotus, or John Player Special, as the owners of Black & Gold would have us call the cars.
Renault: The Regie Renault’s competition division, known as Renault-Sport with their ELF-backed team, have gone the carbon fibre composite route with the monocoque for their new car the RE40 (standing for 40 series Renault-Elf) but this new design is not due to race until the European season begins. As interim cars they transformed the RE30 design to comply with the flat underside ruling and put a lot of work into perfecting (hopefully!) their own electronic fuel metering and injection and ignition system. The last of the 1982 cars was chassis number 10 and this has become the T-car, rebuilt to the new rules, and two new RE30 cars form the team, number 12 for Alain Prost and number 11 for Eddie Cheever.
March: Although John McDonald’s team still operate under the March name their new can designed by David Kelly is really their own, bearing little allegiance to March Engineering. John McDonald and his partner Mick Ralph supply the initials RAM for the team’s official designation of the car (Ralph And McDonald) and this Cosworth powered our is RAM/01/1 with sponsorship from Eliseo Salazar’s countrymen from Chile with their Copec Oil firm, and from England’s Rizla concern.
Alfa Romeo: Officially the Auto Delta branch of Alfa Romeo S.p.A. have withdrawn from racing and handed everything over to Paulo Pavanello’s team called Euro Racing. Their material is the turbo-charged 1½-litre V8 Alfa Romeo 182T that we saw briefly in practice at Monza last year. New cars have been built round the neat V8 engine, along similar lines to the prototype but with flat undersides and no on, and are now called 183T. Andrea de Cesaris leads the team, using 183T/02 and his team-mate is little Mauro Baldi in 183T/03. The prototype car has been revamped into 183T/01 to act as a spare. Carlo Chiti is still in evidence and Gerard Ducarouge still runs the team for the new owners.
Ligier: Last year Guy Ligier vacillated between being a manufacturer siding with Talbot, and being a constructor siding with FOCA and Bernie Ecclestone. So much no that I suggested that he did not know whether he was Arthur or Martha. He has now gone back to square one (Arthur?) and become a constructor with a “kit-car” using Cosworth V8 power and from Talbot-Matra V12 his team has now become Ligier-Cosworth V8 so one can sympathise with the mechanics and engineers if they get in a muddle. He still has sponsorship from Gitanes “the other French cigarette” but has lost Jacques Laffite his long-serving driver. The new cars are known as JS21 and are distinctive in that there is a lot of surface area around the rear of the car to provide down-force. After building a prototype that mans bit of a lath-up to get things going, the team has built three new cars. Jean-Pierre Jarier leads the team in JS21/04 with his team-mate Raul Boesel in JS21/03 while JS21/02 is the spare car.
Ferrari: After a lot of testing and experiment in the winter months Ferrari have come up with a version of the 126C2 that is only in the nature of a stop-gap, a new car being destined to appear once the European season gets under way. The 120-degree V6 engine is still turbo-charged by its twin KKK units in the centre of the vee, but radiators and intercoolers have been moved rearwards. The AGIP water-injection is still used, but somehow the revamped cars have grown a lot of weight. Last year they were almost down to the 580 kg. limit, but they are now back over 600 kg., giving away an awful lot to those cars like Williams and Brabham that are down around the 550 kg. mark. The last of the 1982 cars 126C2/063 has been rebuilt to 1983 specification and is used as the T-car, and two new cars appeared, 064 for Rene Arnoux, making his first race with the Scuderia Ferrari, and 065 for Patrick Tambay.
Arrows: This team appeared in virgin(!) white as they had to go to Brazil without the backing of any sponsors, because the firms that were with them last year have pulled out. Their basic Cosworth-powered “kit-car” has been developed into a new version for 1983 in A6 form with two new cars. Marc Surer had A6/2 and “Chico” Serra had A6/3. The ex-Fittipaldi driver was standing-in until such time as the team management can negotiate enough money from somewhere to employ ex-World Champion Alan Jones, who wants to return to F1 racing.
Osella: Enzo Osella was thinking of pulling out of Formula 1 during the winter but various friends talked him into staying, and encouraged him with financial support. A D-version of his Formula 1 design, using Cosworth power, has been built and there were two new cars for his new drivers, Corradi Fabi (younger brother of last year’s Toleman-Hart driver) and Piercarlo Ghizani. Future plans revolve around using V12 Alfa Romeo engines.
Theodore: Towards the end of last year Morris Nunn and Teddy Yip combined their teams as they were both in a sad state of financial and technical distress. Nunn had the car and Yip had the money, so the revived team comprised the name and finances of Theodore Racing and the design and construction of Ensign. Nunn’s carbon fibre composite N182 last year looked promising but lacked development money, so the design has now been extended to N183, continuing the Ensign numbering, and the cars are called Theodore. Among the Cosworth “kit-cars” the Theodore (Ensign) N183 is a neat confection with good potential and the Columbian driver Roberto Guerrero, who drove for Ensign last year, leads the team in MN-17 and his team-mate is the Venezuelan motorcycle rider and Formula 2 driver Johnny Cecotto in MN-18. Nigel Bennett looks after the engineering of the team, while Nunn, Yip and Sid Taylor are all still much in evidence.
Toleman-Hart: Last year’s new car for this team, which appeared at the end of the season, was already designated TG183 as it was intended for this year. This was the carbon fibre composite monocoque car with the revised Hart turbo-charger layout on the 4-cylinder Hart engine. In redesigning the car for the new regulations Rory Byrne and his assistants have spread their weight masses, rather than concentrating them all at the back. Consequently the radiators are at the front of the car and the air-flow through them is used to generate down-force to supplement the front aerofoil. The rear aero-foil in the regulation position is used with large side-plates that merge into the sides of the car. In initial testing this revised car, designated TG183B, went extremely well and caused a lot of people to say it was a flash-in-the-pan, but subsequent testing and practice prove differently, at least when the car was driven by Derek Warwick. Bruno Giacomelli has joined the team as number two, having been dropped unceremoniously by Alfa Romeo. Last year the team had to rely on financial support from their owner, Ted Toleman, but this year they have the financial backing of Candy Appliances once again, and from IVECO the international commercial vehicle consortium through their German member Magirus-Deutz, who have changed their image to MAGIRUS.