Patrick Tambay 1949-2022

Patrick Tambay 1949-2022

Despite recording only two wins in a nine-year, 123-race F1 career, the Frenchman (who died on 4 December) will be remembered as one of the most popular both on and off track.

In F1 terms Tambay was a late starter, stepping up to the big leagues in his late 20s when, after a brief outing for Surtees, he secured a drive for Theodore Racing in 1977. After a barren debut season, stints at McLaren, Theodore (again) and Ligier proved similarly fruitless, although across the Atlantic he twice took the Can-Am title for Haas.

Tambay s big break in F1 came in 1982 when he signed for Ferrari in bittersweet circumstances following the death of his friend Gilles Villeneuve at Zolder. Even though the seat came as Maranello slid into the post-Scheckter doldrums, it was a huge breaththrough for Tambay, who peaked by finishing seventh and fourth in the Drivers’ Championship and took wins at Hockenheim and Imola (a win he memorably dedicated to Villeneuve, and the last Enzo would witness live). After making way for Michele Alboreto at Ferrari, Tambay moved on to Renault and then Haas-Lola, but with ever-diminishing returns.

After his F1 career, he sampled the Paris- Dakar (twice; two top-three finishes), plus ice and jet-ski racing, but became most familiar as a commentator for French television.

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