Jean-Pierre Yabouil, the former French driver of Formula 1, died

Former French racing driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille, the architect of Renault’s first victory in Formula 1, died on Thursday at the age of 80, his family has learned, without specifying the cause of his death.

Jabouille has just two wins in fifty F1 races to his name. But he was often forced to retire due to the difficulties he faced in developing the turbo engine, a technology that was once revolutionary in F1.

“Big Blonde”

Born into a wealthy family in Paris on October 1, 1942, he holds an engineering degree and his background includes winning the 1976 European Formula 2 championship. Race in 1975.

It is his association with Renault that will allow the man nicknamed “tall blonde” by the press to establish himself in the queen discipline of motorsport, without first attracting ridicule. The French manufacturer was the only company at the time to bet on a 1500cc six-cylinder turbo engine, while the others ran “classic” V8 or V12 3000cc engines.

After making its racing debut in mid-1977, the Renault RS01 was quickly nicknamed the ‘yellow kettle’ for its colour, but above all it caused its engine to explode in a cloud of white smoke. But Jabouille doesn’t care. He persisted, worked with engineers and believed in the potential of the single-seater. He would have a streak of 13 retirements before scoring his first points at the United States Grand Prix in October 1978 with a 4th place finish.

Renault is on top

René Arnoux joined him at Renault in 1979 and in July at the Dijon-Prenois circuit he climbed to the top step of the podium as a Renault for the first time. The irony is that history will be remembered more for the duel between Arnoux and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari) for 2nd place than for Jabouille’s victory.

“I was only thinking about finishing the race, he told AFP in 2018. I knew if we finished we would have a chance. It was a great honor because it is difficult to win in F1. Also because I was quick -I quickly became a leader and every time I faced reliability problems.

“We are where we are today thanks to Jean-Pierre and his legacy,” Alpine, which brings together Renault’s racing activities, said in a press release on Thursday.

broken legs

After that it would be more than a year before the Austrian GP before Jabouille won again and the last time he won before retiring again in Formula 1… 14 times between his two wins. If turbo technology was to become the norm in F1, Jabouille was replaced at Renault by Alain Prost after breaking both his legs at the end of 1980. He switched to Ligier the following season, but quickly realized that the effects of his injuries prevented him from returning. rises to the highest level and decides to leave F1.

That won’t stop him from saying in another interview with AFP in 2019: “Right now we’re going out, going for a walk on the lawn and coming back. “We have made great progress in terms of material absorption and we have to put barriers around the circuits so that the car is slightly damaged when it goes off course without risk to the driver.”

Jabouille would later return to his first love, endurance, with Peugeot. Already rich with two third places at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Matra in 1973 and 1974, he achieved two more places in 1992 and 1993 with the Lion marque. He then took charge of Peugeot-Sport until 1995, before forming his own endurance team, Jabouille-Bouresche Racing.

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