Patrick Tambay obituary: Double F1 race winner dies age 73 – Motorsport. com
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He only logged two grand prix victories during his two-year stint at Maranello, but he played a huge role in helping to steer the team through a traumatic time, with Villeneuve’s death followed the few months later by another devastating accident that ended the career of Didier Pironi.
Tambay’s easy-going personality made him the perfect man for such a difficult task. Hugely charming and possessed of a winning smile and impeccable manners, this individual made friends wherever he or she went. It says the lot that will over the particular course associated with his career he was often reunited with teams and key personnel years after first working with them – people liked having him around.
Like so many other Frenchmen of his generation Tambay has been propelled to the top associated with the sport by Elf. An accomplished skier in his youth, he enjoyed driving road cars within snowy conditions, and a trip to the Monaco GP inspired him to go to the Winfield school at Paul Ricard.
Already 23, he duly won the Pilote Elf racing school prize – the judges included Ken Tyrrell and Francois Cevert – which led to a paid Formule Renault drive with regard to 1972. In his second season he finished runner-up in order to Rene Arnoux in the particular French championship, and after convincing Elf that he should by-pass F3 he moved straight into F2 in 1974 along with the Alpine team.
This individual finished seventh in the championship and, again with Elf support, moved to the particular works March outfit regarding 1975. A win within Nogaro plus five second places saw him finish equal runner-up, albeit a long way behind champion Jacques Laffite.
He stayed on intended for a third year in 1976 with the Martini group, again winning at Nogaro and finishing third in the points behind Jean-Pierre Jabouille and team mate Arnoux. That year he also made their Le Mans debut in a works Renault, partnering Jabouille, and got a first taste of the US scene when he contested an F5000 race at Riverside along with Teddy Yip’s Theodore Racing team.
By now it was time to get Tambay to leave F2 behind. For 1977 this individual made an unusual sideways switch in order to CanAm as replacement for the injured Brian Redman in the Haas team. He or she won six races and took the particular title, plus made a second Le Guys appearance with Renault.
Meat Tambay, Ferrari 126C3
Photo by: Motorsport Images
That summer he or she also finally landed his F1 chance. He has been offered the Surtees seat at their home race in Dijon at the very last minute, but he failed to qualify. He had already signed to drive a good Ensign run by Theodore Racing for the rest of the time of year, starting from Silverstone.
After a solid debut he earned sixth in his second start at Hockenheim and then at Zandvoort he ran as high as third before running out of fuel and being classified fifth.
His performances attracted the particular attention associated with Ferrari , although an appointment to talk about a future drive had been postponed because Enzo was ill. Before a second chance arose he was signed simply by McLaren boss Teddy Mayer to replace Jochen Mass in 1978.
“I was due to fly back to Canada pertaining to a CanAm race, ” he recalled. “But I went in order to see John Hogan of Marlboro to talk about what I ought to do, and this and that will. And suddenly out of the blue Teddy Mayer walked into the office, along with his really nice leather briefcase.
“So we started talking together. He said, ‘You have a Ferrari offer? You won’t fit well with Carlos Reutemann, he’s the strange guy, the atmosphere is going to be difficult, the relationship is going to be difficult. And they are switching in order to Michelin, and for sure it’s not going to be a good 1st year. ‘
“And then he opened his nice briefcase and took out a McLaren contract. We didn’t have a manager, I actually didn’t have an agent, I didn’t have anything. We called my father, and this individual said, ‘Hey kid, do what you want, it’s your job, plus if you think you can handle that it’s better to feel safe than sorry. ‘ So I got the pen and signed it, and went off to Canada. ”
Given that will the group already had a young driver to hand in the particular form associated with Gilles Villeneuve, who experienced made their debut with Silverstone, Tambay’s signing has been a surprise.
Patrick Tambay, 1st position, alongside René Arnoux, 2nd position, plus Keke Rosberg, 3rd placement.
“I said in order to Gilles, ‘Hey, you had an option along with McLaren meant for ’78, I just signed a contract with all of them. But on the other hand I actually have an offer from Ferrari, so you should go down to Monza and see them. ‘
“That’s the way we would have done it, being friends. I suggested to Gilles, ‘Step on it, go down in order to Monza, chat to them, they want a young man to go along with Carlos, maybe this can work out. ‘ I had no idea that it would.
“Meanwhile after Monza We went down to see the particular Old Man with [Mauro] Forghieri, to excuse myself from signing up before talking to him.
“Forghieri translated the whole conversation, and at the end the Old Man said in French, ‘Patrick what a stupid mistake you made. You would have been World Champion along with us, and you would possess made a lot more money… ”
James Hunt had received two of the final three races of the particular 1977 period, so it looked like a great chance designed for Tambay. However in 1978 McLaren lost its way, left behind by Lotus at the start of the ground effect era.
Search soon lost interest, while Tambay struggled to make any sort of impact using the M26. He had been fourth within Sweden and scraped in to the top six on four some other occasions, completing 14th in the World Championship. Meanwhile Villeneuve got become the huge star with Ferrari.
“I scored some points, but not enough, ” Tambay recalled. “I had arrived in there with so many hopes. I think at the end of 1977 I had been one of the particular up-and-coming guys, along with Gilles, that people were looking for.
“It just turned out to be that I was heading down, and he was going up. I actually didn’t mind. If it acquired been Rene Arnoux I would have been pissed off! But it was Gilles, so I could forgive all that, plus cope with it. In fact We were happy for your pet. ”
1983 Italian Grand Prix, Patrick Tambay, Ferrari 126C3
Picture by: Motorsport Images
With regard to 1979 and with John Watson now partnering Tambay, McLaren tried in order to catch up with ground effect technology, but the M28 proved to be a disaster.
“I remember the first day they rolled the car out of the workshop for the photo call. Three wheels were on the sidewalk, and one was off the sidewalk, up in the air. All the team was standing inside the back, and I sat on the particular wheel that was off the ground.
“And all of us heard this cracking sound – the bonding wasn’t dry or something, and I was giving it the torsion test. They appeared very, very worried, We tell you. I actually don’t know what happened after that, but I think they had to have a stiffening contest. ”
The car proved to become so problematic that Tambay even experienced to go back to the ancient M26 on one stage. In the particular second half of the season it has been superseded by the hurriedly prepared M29, which wasn’t much better. He failed to score a point, as well as for 1980 Mayer replaced him with F3 celebrity Alain Prost.
“At the end from the season Teddy called me and stated I got to go straight down to John Ricard for a test, ” Tambay remembered. “’And by the way there’s a new guy coming along with you, called Prost. ‘
“What?, ” I said, ‘I’m not going to do a shoot-out against Prost. You give me personally a difficult time all 12 months with that vehicle, and I’m not regarding to end up being compared along with him. ‘
“I didn’t want a shootout, I did not deserve 1. But We opened up the particular way just for Alain simply by not heading to that test. They had to help to make a choice, and I actually think maybe Marlboro had been pushing for the purpose of him. I gave up the competition presently there, because We didn’t feel that I actually deserved to be compared to him. ”
In 1980 Tambay proceeded to go back in order to CanAm, where earned another title with Haas, again winning 6 races. In 1981 he or she returned to F1, hooking up with Teddy Yip once more to drive the uncompetitive Theodore.
Meat Tambay, Ferrari 126C2.
In the middle of the season he moved in order to Ligier to replace the particular injured Jabouille alongside Laffite. It was not a happy time, plus he did not log a finish, and has been fortunate to escape from a huge crash in Las Vegas that will broke the front off his car.
After a false start with Arrows he was left on the sidelines in early 1982. However whenever Villeneuve had been killed at Zolder in May Tambay was the man that Enzo Ferrari called upon to partner Pironi, their former F2 rival.
He was third on his second outing in Brands Hatch and then won in the fourth begin with the particular team from Hockenheim – the day right after Pironi was badly injured.
“It has been dramatic. The spirit associated with the team was shattered, they dropped to a single of their drivers, and then losing the second straight away. They were they had been so low and depressed, and I mean shattered. I actually was just coming back, and I couldn’t feel this as much as they were feeling the drama. I acquired been away, and I was not really within the team yet, even if I’d replaced Gilles only two races or even three competitions before. ”
Tambay helped the group to move on, and his solid scoring ensured that Ferrari secured that will year’s constructors’ title.
Regarding 1983 this individual was joined by former F2 team mate Arnoux. He obtained an emotional win with Imola, a year after the Villeneuve/Pironi fallout, and for the particular first half of the yr he had been a World Championship contender. However his hopes faded with the string of retirements within the 2nd half, three in races where this individual started through pole, plus he completed the season in fourth place.
Dropped by Ferrari, for 1984 he was back along with Renault and Elf because he has been signed in order to partner Derek Warwick, who still regards Tambay as his favourite team mate. Pole plus second place in the fourth race on Dijon looked promising, yet his two years with the team to be difficult, and he or she was plagued with reliability issues.
Patrick Tambay, Renault RE60
Photograph by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images
With the Renault team closing at the particular end associated with 1985 Tambay made a fresh start with the new Beatrice Haas team for the following year, joining up Alan Jones. There he was reunited with their CanAm boss Carl Haas and past McLaren men Mayer and Tyler Alexander, and also worked with future F1 technical gurus Adrian Newey plus Ross Brawn.
It has been to become another difficult calendar year with all the Ford-powered car, and his only score had been fifth in Austria. Once again the group closed in late the year, which period Tambay’s F1 career was over.
Within 1989 Tom Walkinshaw hired him in order to drive with regard to Silk Cut Jaguar on the planet Sportscar Championship as companion to Jan Lammers. The particular V6 turbo-powered XJR10 has been largely outclassed, and the only decent result was second at Jarama, whilst he took fourth in Le Mans in the V12 machine.
Right after that Tambay’s circuit race career fizzled out. This individual switched his focus to off-road events, regularly competing in the particular Paris-Dakar plus logging several podium finishes. He would make a single-seater comeback within the Grand Prix Masters series in 2005-6, competing inside races from Kyalami, Qatar and Silverstone.
He kept busy out from the cockpit. He previously a brief involvement with the Larrousse team in its latter days, and forged parallel careers as the TV commentator and politician. He furthermore served since a mentor to Jacques Villeneuve when the young Canadian was starting his profession, and later helped his own son Adrien to progress through the ranks.
Tambay had been struggling with health issues for many years, principally Parkinson’s Disease, and sadly he has lost his final battle. Motorsport. com sends its condolences to their family and his many buddies in the sport.
Photo by: Ercole Colombo