1979 GERMAN GRAND PRIX
Patrick Tambay, posing with Marie-Jeanne.
A cosmopolitan gentleman who was educated in France and the USA, the debonair Tambay was one of the most genuinely charming and popular of all F1 drivers on the scene in the early 1980s. He bounced back from two lean seasons with McLaren in 1978-79 to drive for the Ligier team briefly and then be offered a chance with Ferrari after the death of Gilles Villeneuve in 1982. He won his spurs by winning that year's German GP after Didier Pironi was badly injured in practice, then scored an emotionally satisfying victory at Imola the following year.
Dropped by Ferrari in favor of Michele Alboreto for 1984, Tambay moved first to Renault and then the unproductive Haas Beatrice Lola team in 1986. Retiring from F1 at the end of 1986, Tambay formed in his own sports promotion company in Switzerland in 1987 but returned to racing in 1989 to drive a Jaguar sportscar in the Sports-Prototype World Chamoinship and went on to finish fourth in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Unable to kick the racing habit, he then fell in love with desert raid racing and with Africa and twice finishing in the top three on the Paris-Dakar. Between the rally raids Patrick took part in ice races, the Tour de Corse for jet skis and became a television commentator. In 1994, in partnership with his friend and business associate Michel Golay in the Fast Group SA company, Patrick took a shareholding in the Larrousse F1 and took an active involvement in the sporting side of the business. At the end of the season, however, Fast Group decided to end its involvement with the team. Since then Tambay has remained a TV commentator while also serving as the deputy-mayor of Le Cannet, a suburb of Cannes.