1991 Formula One Season - Pre-Season

Pre-Season

  • McLaren retained their successful 1990 lineup of Senna and Gerhard Berger
  • Williams re-signed their former driver Nigel Mansell on the promise that he would be the top driver in the team after several years as number two to Nelson Piquet at Williams and then Alain Prost at Ferrari. He was partnered by Riccardo Patrese, retained from 1990.
  • Ferrari kept Alain Prost as lead driver and replaced the departed Mansell with Jean Alesi, a young driver who had impressed at Tyrrell.
  • Benetton began the season with two experienced Brazilian drivers: Roberto Moreno and triple world champion Nelson Piquet. During the season, Moreno was replaced by German rookie Michael Schumacher.
  • Former greats Lotus had had a torrid 1990 with a severe accident for Martin Donnelly, loss of title sponsorship from Camel and a management buyout. The new cars, white and British Racing Green after decades of yellow or black, were piloted by rookie drivers Mika Häkkinen and Julian Bailey, though Bailey was eventually replaced by Johnny Herbert. Originally, the team had appointed Donnelly as 'number one driver' (partnering Häkkinen and Bailey) as Martin was expected to come back racing by April 1991.

Three teams that started the 1990 season would not make the start of the 1991 season: EuroBrun had failed to complete the season. Onyx Grand Prix also pulled out during 1990, but went as far as designing a 1991 car before finally folding, while the absence of Life surprised no-one.

The Osella team was now Fondmetal, though driver Olivier Grouillard was retained along with the 1989 Osella car and most of the staff.

The Arrows team was renamed Footwork after an investment by Japanese businessman Wataru Ohashi, President of Footwork Express Co., Ltd.

There were two entirely new entrants for the 1991 season;

  • Jordan Grand Prix, a successful team in International Formula 3000. Their drivers were Bertrand Gachot and Andrea de Cesaris, though Gachot's incarceration for assault partway through the season would mean that Michael Schumacher, Alessandro Zanardi and Roberto Moreno also drove the car.
  • The other new team was the Modena Team. It originally began life in late 1990 as GLAS with Mexican investment. Former Arrows, Alfa Romeo and Spirit driver, Mauro Baldi, was one of the proposed drivers and they had brokered a deal with Lamborghini that would see the Italian marque, operating under Lamborghini Engineering, design and build a chassis for the team as well as supply the engines. But, the Mexican investors pulled out before the season even began. Lamborghini stepped in and provided financial assistance to save the team and relocated the team to Modena, Italy and initiated the subsequent name-change. The team signed up drivers Nicola Larini and Eric van de Poele. Although the team was a de facto factory effort by Lamborghini, Lamborghini entered the team under a separate name to avoid being associated with a struggling team. But this did not stop journalists and fans a like from referring to the team as Lambo though. 1991 would be a very difficult year for the team, as aside from the drivers regularly failing to qualify their cars, finances quickly become an issue after Lamborghini's once off investment in the team had dried up. 1991 would in fact turn out to be the team's only season in the sport.

At the start of the season, pre-qualifying was needed for five teams: both cars of the Jordan, Dallara and Modena teams and the single entrants of the Fondmetal and Coloni teams.

A change to the points system in 1991 saw the winning driver now awarded 10 points instead of 9 as previously. More significantly, points from all races would now count towards the championship, instead of only each driver's best eleven results as previously.

Read more about this topic:  1991 Formula One Season

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