27: Patrick Tambay - The Ferrari Years

27: Patrick Tambay – The Ferrari Years review

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Patrick Tambay’s Ferrari career lasted a year and a half during which time he started just 21 races in red.

A friend of Gilles Villeneuve, Tambay stepped into the breach when the most famous occupant of car number 27 was killed at Zolder in 1982. He won races in both his seasons with the team and there was understandable surprise when he was replaced at the end of his first full season with Ferrari.

It’s hard not to be won over by the enthusiasm Massimo Bulbi approaches the subject of Tambay’s short Ferrari career. Enhanced by lengthy discussions with the man himself, the book sheds fascinating light on an especially turbulent time for F1’s most famous team.

While Bulbi teases out many revealing details on how things didn’t always go well for Tambay at times it feels he is a little too unwilling to criticise his subject. However he makes a very compelling case for why Tambay was hard done by in losing his seat so quickly.

It satisfied almost every curiosity I had about this period, save for Tambay’s absence from the April 1983 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. Rene Arnoux, who retained his Ferrari seat at Tambay’s expense, drove instead – a potentially significant detail.

The book is almost over-generously illustrated with gorgeous shots of early-eighties turbo Ferraris from the Cahier archive. It ends somewhat abruptly, with no reference to Tambay’s subsequent F1 career and – that most frustrating of omissions – no index.

But it’s no great criticism to say I reached the end of the book wishing there was more of it.

F1 Fanatic rating

Rating four out of five

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27: Patrick Tambay – The Ferrari Years

Author: Massimo Burbi with Patrick Tambay
Publisher: Evro
Published: 2016
Pages: 300
Price: £60.00
ISBN: 9781910505120

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 10 comments on “27: Patrick Tambay – The Ferrari Years review”

    1. Phwoar, 60 quid!

    2. I know many will disagree but 27 is really Alan Jones’s number. He carried it in 1978, 1979 and 1980 and won the title with it. He then took number 1 of course for 1981. Ferrari were so rubbish in 1980 they ended up with 27 and 28. Last time I checked neither Villenueve or Tambay won a title with number 27 on their car. Oh that’s right they didn’t win the title.

      1. @elreno, I would have said that fans would more closely associate No.27 with Jean Alesi, who drove more races whilst using that number than Jones ever did (63 races and four seasons, as opposed to 45 races and three seasons for Jones). Alboreto, meanwhile, had by far the longest association with that number – he competed for five seasons and 80 races with that number (almost double the length of Jones).

        The thing is, in reality this sort of mental association is really not a logical thing – otherwise Villeneuve would be remembered for No.12, which he used for longer than he did No.27 – but an emotional one. A number of Villeneuve’s most noted performances, not to mention the controversies and the fatal accident that claimed his life, came whilst he used that number, and those strong emotions are always going to create a much more vivid association between the two.

      2. @elreno 27 is Hülkenberg’s number, strictly speaking.

      3. Tommy Scragend
        5th June 2016, 21:34

        Ferrari only took 27 and 28 in 1981 because they swapped numbers with Williams so that Jones carried no. 1. Yes they only finished 10th in the Constructors’ Championship in 1980, but they would still have been 27 and 28 in 1981 no matter where they finished if Jones was champion.

        The same way that McLaren were 27 and 28 in 1990 – they weren’t rubbish in 1989, it was just that the world champion (Prost) had gone to Ferrari so the two teams swapped numbers.

        I agree about the myth of Villeneuve and 27 though. I think it’s only because of Imola ’82 and the footage of that race that makes people attach that number to him.

        1. DK (@seijakessen)
          6th June 2016, 1:20

          His two most improbable grand prix victories that came in 1981 at Monaco and Jarama had him with the #27.

          Even though he used #12 longer, Monaco 1981 perfectly encapsulates Gilles the driver. To win at that circuit with a 1/4 of the downforce that everyone else had…blows my mind.

      4. LOL. I like Alan Jones too, (and Alesi and Hulkenberg, etc.) but LOL. 27 will always be associated with Gilles.

    3. Sounds like a good book but I would not wish to pay £60.00 for it. I wonder if it will come out in paperback?

    4. I hope to see a volume 2 of this book – 15: Patrick Tambay – The Renault Years

    5. Why was the 1983 Race of Champions significant? From what I remember, when Arnoux racing was at Brands Hatch, most of the F1 regulars were actually at a scheduled tyre test at Paul Ricard just a week out from the 1983 French Grand Prix being held there. And Tambay, along with Ferrari, were at that test. Renault ignored the RoC and were also at Ricard, Brabham only raced with Héctor Rebaque at Brands while Piquet was at Ricard and Patrese was racing for Lancia in the opening round of the World Sportscar Championship at Monza. Even Williams, who won at Brands with Keke Rosberg (with their normal test team given the race duties as a reward for their work), were at Ricard with Laffite.

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