Footwork was bought by Tom Walkinshaw from one of the Arrows team's original founders, Jackie Oliver, early in the season. 1996 thus became a write-off as the team's focus switched to 1997. This was something of a disappointment, since the FA17 was competitive at the start of the year in the hands of Jos Verstappen. However, lack of development and the lack of power from the HartV8 engine saw the team slip to the back of the grid by season's end. Progress was further hampered by the team's testing contract with Bridgestone; the Japanese tyre supplier preparing for entry into F1 in 1997.
Throughout the season, Verstappen proved to be very much the faster Footwork driver, but his reliability record was poor, only finishing a single race in the first half of the season (at Buenos Aires, where he finished sixth). He suffered numerous mechanical failures, including a sticking throttle which caused a huge accident at Spa. He also caused a major scare at Imola when he left a pit stop early and ripped the fuel hose from its tank, covering the garage with flammable fuel. By contrast, Rosset was surprisingly steady for a rookie driver, finishing half the races, but was noticeably slower than his team-mate. Ultimately, neither driver was retained for 1997; champion Damon Hill made the surprising decision to join the team after being dumped by Williams, and Pedro Diniz was chosen to be his number two.
The team eventually finished ninth in the Constructors' Championship, with one point.