Shortly afterwards Luca de Montezemolo returned to the fold to take charge. He appointed Sante Ghedini as team manager, engaged Niki Lauda as a consultant, and brought Harvey Postlethwaite back from Tyrrell for a second stint as technical director.
Harvey was too late to influence the new car. When he arrived just before the season started, the F92A was ready and waiting. With John Barnard long gone, it had literally been designed by a committee, and just to confuse matters, chassis man Steve Nichols had left in December.
With its distinctive oval sidepod intakes, the car certainly looked different. There was more novelty under the skin; aerodynamicist Jean-Claude Migeot had come up with a twinfloor concept. But whatever gains he’d found in the wind tunnel proved elusive when the thing ran on the track.
“I drove the old ’91 car first,” says Ivan. “When I left the pits with the little black horse in the middle of my steering wheel, I couldn’t believe it. On your skin you have a feeling that is fantastic, you can’t really find the words to describe it.
“The car was not so bad compared to my Leyton House, especially the engine. And then we went straight into the ’92 version…
“You can immediately feel after one lap whether a car is good or not. When I did my first lap with the F92A at Estoril I realised that compared to the ’91 car, it wasn’t a very good step. It was a strange concept, which didn’t work at all.
“I immediately said to Migeot that I had some doubts that the car would work. But as soon as I said that, the engineers started to follow Alesi a little bit more. He was saying, ‘This car is the best car that I ever drove…”