Two-time grand prix winner Tambay dies aged 73

2022 F1 season

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Two-time grand prix winner Patrick Tambay, who replaced Gilles Villeneuve at Ferrari in 1982, has died, his family announced on Sunday.

The French former Formula 1 and sportscar racer Tambay had lived with Parkinson’s disease in the later years of his life but died over the weekend aged 73.

Tambay raced in Formula 1 between 1977 and 1986 in a career that spanned 114 grand prix starts from 123 races entered. After making his early grand prix starts with Surtees and Theodore in 1977, Tambay was signed by McLaren for the 1978 and 1979 seasons before missing out the 1980 season.

Tambay returned to Formula 1 with Theodore for 1981 but disappeared from the grid again in 1982. However, following the sudden death of Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve in practice for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari called in Tambay to step into Villeneuve’s vacant seat.

Four races later, he secured victory in the German Grand Prix and two more podiums, earning a drive alongside fellow Frenchman Rene Arnoux for 1983. Tambay took an emotional second career win at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, but was ultimately replaced by Michele Alboreto at Ferrari for 1984.

Tambay moved to Renault for the next two seasons, taking three podium finishes and one pole position. His final season in F1 came with Haas (founded by Carl Haas) in 1986. After his racing career, Tambay picked up a microphone to commentate on Formula 1 for French television.

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali paid tribute to Tambay upon his death, saying he was “saddened” by news of the former driver’s passing.

“He was a great talent and ambassador for Formula 1 throughout his life,” Domenicali said. “We will all miss him deeply and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this sad time.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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10 comments on “Two-time grand prix winner Tambay dies aged 73”

  1. A class act throughout – unlike the new breed of whiners since 2007

    1. @JPW
      What a bizarre comment.

      1. Someone always has to indulge a pet hate, don’t they? No matter the topic.

        1. They do, Sean. I confess the endless negativity is affecting my enjoyment of discussing F1 online. It’s got much worse, I don’t know why.

  2. His win in 1982 was probably one of Ferrari’s most important wins ever, given the loss of Villeneuve before and Pironi’s horrible accident in qualifying for that race. Thoughts with his family.

  3. RIP

    I remember watching him in the insanely powerful 126C3 at Brands – upshifting into Druids as he passed the point most club drivers are usually stamping on the brakes. It was the first time I think it really hit me that F1 drivers and F1 cars are a breed apart.

  4. Tambay comes always as a likeable nice character in the interviews. Though I didn’t know he was suffering from Parkinson till I heard him talking about it in the Beyond the grid podcast. It was apparent that he was suffering but I thought he may have had breathing difficulties.

    He said that he would have preferred to have gone like Ayrton, Ratzenberger, Ronnie, Gilles… rather than being sick and . It takes lots of guts to say that. He was a friend with Gilles Villeneuve who he knew at McLaren and later became Jacques Villeneuve’s godfather. He has now plenty of time to race Gilles and the rest of his friends he missed. RIP

  5. That German Grand Prix was the first I watched. Sad news.

  6. This is truly sad, we have lost one of the last true gentlemen to race in F1. RIP Patrick.

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