Jean-Pierre Yabuil, the first Renault winner in Formula 1, has died

Jean-Pierre Jabouille, the winner of two Formula 1 Grand Prix between 1979 and 1980, died on February 2 at the age of 80. The French driver made a name for himself by giving Renault its first victory in Formula 1. The French driver, who also took six Grand Prix pole positions and two podiums, managed to make history despite his rather unusual career. It’s simple, Jean-Pierre Jabouille was Mr. All or Nothing. Plus, his stats in the Formula 1 challenge.

Here’s a driver who played just three full or fewer full seasons from 1978 to 1980 and scored just three times, totaling 21 points. However, the “tall blonde” left such a mark in the history of the Grand Prix. as deep as drivers with longer and more successful careers. True, Jean-Pierre won points several times, not in vain, because he has two victories to his credit. Including the 1979 French Grand Prix, a first for Renault and a turbo engine in F1. A technical, economic and political turning point that made Jabouille a very historical figure.

In his defense, it must be admitted that his record might have been richer had he not been plagued by frequent mechanical problems and had he not prematurely ended his Formula 1 career after a serious crash at the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix. Jabouille also marked his time, he was the one who had to wait the longest thanks to all the French drivers entering F1. When Renault launched it at the highest level in 1977, “Mamouille” had already been part of the furniture of national and international motorsport for more than a decade.

Jabouille is notorious for failing

This young Parisian from Kreuz, the son of an architect and close friend of the collector Pierre Bardino, began his career in cars as a salesman at Citroen and then in the garage of ex-driver Roger Loyer. Jean-Pierre, the lucky owner of an Alpine berlinetta, signed up to climb the Mont-Dore hill and immediately distinguished himself by winning his category. But it was the creation of the Gordini Cup that led to its inception in 1966. Jean-Pierre then built his car in the workshop of Jean-Claude Hrubon in Levallois with the help of his friend Jacques Laffitte.

He even races Monza and the Paris 1000km in Hrubo’s Mini Marcos. After finishing 4th in the Premier Pas Dunlop race, he ditched the R8G in favor of the Brabham F3, thus confirming his good character. This earned him integration into the Crio Tournesol team in mid-1967 and his first wins at Reims and Djursland-Ring (Denmark). Jean-Pierre, fourth in the French F3 championship, was impressed by Crio’s withdrawal, but managed to keep the Matra MS5 in which he won three times in early 1968 at Montlhéry, Magny-Cours and Dijon.

Jean-Pierre Jabouille during his victory at the 1979 French Grand Prix. © DPPI

The rest were more difficult, and despite two more successes at Montlhéry, he lost the title to François Javert. However, his efforts were not in vain. Neither with Matra, who allowed him to start in Formula 2 at Hockenheim, nor with Alpine, who entrusted him with 2 liters in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This leads to a contract with the Dieppe firm, where Jabouille begins a long parallel journey with Patrick Depailler. So much so that at Montlhéry the two Alpine F3 lines went side by side… before Clermontois was declared the winner. While Jean-Pierre Jabouille failed to win, his consistent podium finishes (including 3rd in Monaco) allowed him to finish 3rd ahead of his teammate in the 1969 championship. 6th in 1000km Monza with A220 with Depailler.

In 1970, two companions, the F2 in Pygmy and the Sports Prototype in Matra, were unfortunately unsuccessful. Except in the Tour Auto where he accompanied Henry Pescarolo to 2nd place. He also drove Escuderia Montjuic’s Ferrari 512S to 2nd place in the 1000km in Paris. In 1971 he finished 2nd in the Tour Auto with the Spanish team’s 512M in a Lola T210 shared with Helmut Marko, 2nd in the Grand Prix de Pau F2 in Tecno and 1st in Paul-Ricard in the 2-litre European Championship. But it shines above all with the Alpine F3, most after the Depailler. Having won two victories in Nogaro and Montlhéry, Jean-Pierre becomes the vice-champion of France after his teammate.

A history closely associated with Renault

He competed in his final F3 races (4th in Charade) in 1972, competing in F2 in the Elf 2 (Alpine chassis and Ford engine) he was responsible for developing. However, John Coombs took 2nd at Manthorpe Park in March 722. In 1973 he finished 5th at Albi in Elf 2 and started to develop the Alpine A440 barque. At the same time he joined the Matra team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he finished 3rd in the 1973 and 74 editions. The 74 season finally allowed him to use the Elf 2, now run by BMW. With the victory in Hockenheim, he finished the European Championship on the 4th place. In the Alpine A441 he finished 3rd in the European Sport 2 Liter Championship with two successes at Misano and Jarama. His attempts to start in Formula One ended with two non-qualifications: Frank Williams’ Iso at Dijon and Surtees at Zeltweg.

It was at this time that Renault began to develop a V6 turbo in the Sport. First trip and first win at 1000 km Mugello in 1975 with Jabouille-Larrousse. With a bit of luck, of course, as it would have to wait until Le Mans 1978 to see the winning Renault-Alp prototype again. And Jabouille won’t be there, the A443’s engine shared with Depailler failed on Sunday morning as they pulled away. But of course Renault and Jabouille improved their technical skills in these endurance races. Thanks also to F2. In 1975, Elf 2 was still working with BMW: Jabouille won Salzburg and Magny-Cours (non-championship), but had to settle for 5th place in the championship.

Jean-Pierre Jabouille made Renault shine. © DPPI

The label of failure begins to cling to him, which he denies. For Jabouille, who has been both an engineer and a driver, any problems encountered have a technical cause and the black cats have nothing to do with it. His other conclusion is that it is up to the driver, not the engineer, to drive development: this view may cause some tension at Renault, but for now Jabouille’s experience is commendable. It began to pay off in 1976 when he became the European F2 champion behind the wheel of the now naturally aspirated Renault V6-powered Elf 2. Having won at Vallelunga and Mugello, he won the title in the final race at Hockenheim with the help of teammate Michel Leclerc, who blocked the way in René Arnoux Martini. After years of effort, eternal runner-up Jabouille finally wins at least one title. Here he is ready for a big breakthrough, especially since Tyrrell entrusted him with 007 for the Grand Prix de France at Paul-Ricard. This time he did not miss the race and was 12th.

He will have to wait another year for the Renault RS01 to debut at Silverstone, ten years after his first F3 win at Reims. The road to success will still be long at the wheel of this “yellow teapot”, which does not stop spitting its turbos. Out of five attempts, this ersatz 1977 season ended with four sacks and one nonqualification. Having skipped the South American campaign that opened the 1978 season, Jabouille also missed a full season but made significant progress. He finally crossed the finish line in Monaco in 10th place. Not 13th at Zolder, Jarama, he will have to wait for Watkins Glen to see the finish again.

ALSO READ> Yabuil’s victory in France in 1979

A serious crash as the (almost) end point of his F1 career

But by finishing 4th, he scored his first points at the same time as the first point for the turbo engine. This result only confirms the good results achieved by Jabouille in tests (3rd place in Zeltweg and Monza), whose legality is not in doubt. 1979 would be a year of consecration for Renault and its iconic driver. Time for the biturbo-powered RS10 to arrive. Kyalami’s pole position in the RS02 was just a warning. In Dijon, Jabouille scores a new goal and this time nothing and no one can stop him from turning it into a victory. What does it matter if the Villeneuve-Arnu duel for the 2nd place almost overshadows the event of the day. Unfortunately, the rest of the season will be a real disaster for the Parisian who will not see a finish. Engine, clutch, brakes, nothing will save him, the only fault that can be attributed to him is a derailment at Hockenheim (as well as Monza) where he started from pole.

Unfortunately, the 1980 season would be of the same type, with two new pole positions at Interlagos and Kyalami, followed by as many retirements. Like teammate René Arnoux, he will take advantage of a more difficult situation to live with. Unclassified in Long Beach, Jabouille will have to wait until the end of August to finally be redeemed. At Zeltweg, he finally won the second Grand Prix of his career. It will be the last as the streak of relegations continues until this crash on lap 26 of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. A victim of a broken suspension, Jean-Pierre broke his legs in a horrific crash that ended his season.

Jean-Pierre Jabouille

Jean-Pierre Jabouille was able to drive Renault again in 2019, where he won the French Grand Prix in 1979 after 40 years. © Antonin Vincent / DPPI

After signing with Ligier in 1981, his break with Renault was already over. He bravely fulfilled his contract from the second Grand Prix of the season, but did not recover his physical abilities. Having failed to qualify at Interlagos, Buenos Aires and Monaco, failed to qualify at Imola, forced to retire at Zolder and Jarama, he must face the facts: F1 is over for him, at least on this side of the barrier. Halfway through the season, he swapped his driver jersey for Ligier’s technical advisor jersey.

However, after the failure of the JS19 in 1982, he would relinquish this role to return to piloting. First in production, then in sports cars with Peugeot. The first driver of the 905, he finished 3rd at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1992 and 1993. He then replaced Peugeot Sport boss Jean Todt, accompanying the French firm in F1 with McLaren. Again, the experiment will continue. Jean-Pierre Jabouille would later participate in various GT and Prototype projects (Porsche, Ferrari, Viper, Morgan) to satisfy his passion for technology.

To his family and loved ones, HIMSELFweekly offers my sincerest condolences.

Jean-Pierre Jabouille’s F1 award list
Bets: 49 (7)
Points: 21
Win: 2
Pole position: 6
Best lap: 0

1978: 17th Renault
1979: 13th Renault
1980: 8th Renault
Unrated: 1975, 1977, 1981

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