Rene Arnoux was one of many French drivers of the late ’70s and early ’80s to be tipped to be the first driver to win the title for France.
He made his debut for Surtees in 1978 and was quickly signed by Renault to partner Jean-Pierre Jabouille in their temperamental turbo cars. He took his first two wins in Brazil and South Africa to lead the 1980 championship after three rounds, but slumped to sixth overall picking up just 11 more points in the remainder of the championship.
In 1981 Alain Prost arrived as his team mate and seriously undermined Arnoux’s confidence with his speed.
In 1982 Arnoux hit back by refusing to yield to Prost at the French Grand Prix, contrary to team orders, and wining the race. He made plans to move to Ferrari and was still in championship contention at the final round of 1983, but retired.
Michele Alboreto had the upper hand in 1984 before Arnoux was fired under mysterious circumstances in 1985.
He joined Jacques Laffite at Ligier in 1986 but the team quickly slumped and he scored just one point with the Megatron powerplant in 1987. 1988 was little better with Judd engines and he began to develop a reputation for blocking when he was being lapped, which was also the dominant theme of his last year, 1989.
He later participated in the Grand Prix Masters series.