For those of a certain age, the 1990s is remembered as a halcyon period of great rivalries, epic races and dramatic deciders. The decade began with the heated relationship between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, and ended with Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen as two-time champions.
Turbocharged engines had been banned after 1988, and an intense period of electronic technical development culminated in the Williams-Renault FW14B that took Nigel Mansell to a title in 1992. The FIA then sought to slow the cars and restricted ‘driver aids’, a process that was hastened by the tragedies of Imola in 1994 and that traumatic summer which came to overshadow the decade.
But away from the headlines and blockbuster winners from McLaren, Williams and Benetton, there were a number of designs that showed glimpses of promise and speed without mounting a sustained challenge. After spending months categorising all the cars from the decade for my new book, these are my picks as the most underrated of them all. They make up in character what they lack in silverware – in fact they include just one race winner, and even that was due to circumstance on a chaotic day at the Nürburgring.