Jean-Paul Driot, the DAMS founder and Nissan e.dams Formula E Team Principal, has died at the age of 68 after an ongoing illness.
The Frenchman played a major role in the careers of many racing drivers, with his operation winning multiple championship titles across several junior single-seater series and the FIA Formula E Championship.
His death came in the wake of Nicholas Latifi’s victory in the Formula 2 Championship Feature Race at the Hungaroring, which was backed up by a podium finish for the Canadian’s teammate Sérgio Sette Câmara in the Sprint Race. The team dedicated their drivers’ results to Driot in announcing his passing.
“It is with great sadness that Driot Associés Motor Sport (DAMS) announces its founder and owner, Jean-Paul Driot, passed away at the age of 68,” DAMS’ statement reads.
“Jean-Paul lost an ongoing battle with illness, which he had fought in recent months. We wish our sincerest condolences to his wife Geneviève and two sons Olivier and Gregory.”
The Frenchman established his eponymous team, which later became known as Driot Associes Motor Sport, in 1987 in the Formula 3000 Championship.
Over thirty DAMS drivers have since graduated to race in Formula 1 – including five of the current grid: Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz and Alexander Albon – with Driot remaining the key figurehead throughout.
DAMS has been a firepower team across multiple categories, winning thirteen Drivers’ Championships, twelve Teams’ Championships and 147 race victories to date across Formula 3000, Formula Renault 3.5, plus the official feeder Formula 2 and Formula 3 Championships (including their forebear GP2 and GP3 Series monikers).
Together with four-time Formula 1 World Champion Alain Prost, Driot established the e.dams Formula E team which went on to win three Teams’ Championship titles and a Drivers’ Championship crown when partnered with Renault in the all-electric series. The team now runs under Nissan badging.
DAMS also masterminded France’s championship-winning effort in the now-defunct A1 Grand Prix series.
Formula 2 Championship CEO Bruno Michel paid tribute to Driot in a statement published on the series’ official website.
“It’s not easy to find the right words that encompass everything that our friend Jean-Paul Driot was… He was a true racer, a passionate man, a fighter and a well-respected competitor,” Michel said.
“When we launched the GP2 Series back in 2005, he was the first in line to take on that new challenge. As always, he was very enthusiastic and eager to rule the category. When we became the promoters of the Formula 2 Championship, Jean-Paul had zero doubt that DAMS were going to be one of the strongest outfits on the grid.
“He has built a team that has attracted some of the most skilled drivers throughout the years. He knew how to nurture them, make them grow, push them to the limit so that they would perform at their best. Looking at today’s F1 grid, five of the current drivers have worked with Jean-Paul and they could all tell you how much of an impact he’s had on their career.
“On top of that, Jean-Paul was a true and sincere friend. He was not afraid to come to us when he felt something was not right, with his heart on his sleeves. It was always interesting to hear about his opinion as I knew it was an unselfish one and he always meant well. I consulted him regularly since we got together often.
“He has been a key actor in our paddock for almost fifteen years, and he leaves a great void behind him. Since the news of his passing yesterday, we’ve seen a lot of people express their affection and respect for him which shows how greatly esteemed he was, notably by his competitors. He will be dearly missed.”
Image via McLaren