The hard-racing style with which Alex Zanardi swept to two CART IndyCar titles across three spectacular years in the series convinced Williams bosses Frank Williams and Patrick Head he was the man who could lead their team back to Formula 1 greatness.
But instead Zanardi failed to score a single point when he returned to F1 with Williams for 1999, and an urgent contract break was engineered to end what had become a miserable relationship just one season into what was supposed to be a long-term deal.
How and why did it go so wrong?
In the latest episode of Bring Back V10s, Glenn Freeman tries to answer that with the help of a Williams insider - its former commercial chief Jim Wright - and a Zanardi superfan - Matt Beer.
They chart the decline of the Zanardi/Williams marriage and the faults on both sides that led to it going so badly on-track from the outset, and delve into curious diversions such as the much-mocked steel brakes experiment and the two-race flourish that briefly halted moves to oust Zanardi.
They also look at what made Williams so keen to sign Zanardi in the first place, and explain why both parties felt so much regret at how things turned out for years afterwards.
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