Former Grand Prix winner and godfather to Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Tambay will be celebrating his 61st birthday today!
Both French and American educated, Patrick was regarded as one of the most-liked drivers in the F1 paddock in the 1980s.
Perhaps chided in some circles for being too much of a ‘Mr Nice Guy’, Patrick recovered from two horrible seasons with McLaren under the management of Teddy Mayer in 1978-9 to briefly drive for Ligier and then be appointed as the replacement of his late close friend Gilles Villeneuve at Ferrari in 1982.
As if that season hadn’t been through enough already with Gilles’ death, the German Grand Prix was to prove another low point when team-mate Didier Pironi suffered career-ending leg injures during practice. That weekend, Patrick proved the glue that held a broken team together by winning at Hockenheim, and then taking another emotional victory at Imola the following year.
Despite helping the team to win what would turn out to be the last Constructors’ Championship title it would clinch for almost 20 years, Patrick found himself dropped in favour of Michele Alboreto for the 1984 season and switched to Renault. His final season, 1986, was spent with the woeful Beatrice Haas Lola concern as team-mate to Alan Jones.
Since retiring from F1, Patrick continued to compete in sports car and desert rally events, in addition to briefly running his own sports promotion company and trying to fund the ailing Larrousse team in 1994.
He now works as a Formula 1 commentator for French TV and serves as the deputy mayor of the Cannes suburb, Le Cannet.
[Original image via The Cahier Archive]
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