Didier Pironi

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Didier Pironi
Didier-1.jpg
Pironi as a Formula Two driver in 1977.
FIA Super Licence Flag of France France
Formula One World Championship career
Active years1978 Formula One season - 1982 Formula One season
TeamsTyrrell Racing, Ligier, Ferrari
Races72 (70 starts)
List of Formula One World Drivers' Champions0
Wins3
Podiums13
Career points101
Pole position4
Fastest lap5
First race1978 Argentine Grand Prix
First win1980 Belgian Grand Prix
Last win1982 Dutch Grand Prix
Last race1982 German Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years1976 - 1978, 1980
TeamsPorsche in motorsport Kremer Racing, J. Haran de Chaunac, Renault Sport, BMW in motorsport France
Best finish1st (1978 24 Hours of Le Mans)
Class wins1 (1978 24 Hours of Le Mans)

Didier Joseph-Lovis Pironi[1] (26 March 1952 - 23 August 1987) was a Racing driver from France. During his career he competed in 72 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, mostly driving for Tyrrell Racing and Ferrari, and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a Renault Alpine A442B.

Contents

Career


Pironi was born in Villescresnes, Val-de-Marne.

Initially Pironi began studying as an engineer, but this fell by the wayside following his enrollment at the Paul Ricard driving school. He was awarded the Pilot Elf sponsorship bursary in 1972, with the French national oil company funding his early career, mostly in Renault-powered vehicles. Benefiting from this same Elf Aquitaine sponsorship, to promote young French motorsport talent, that bequeathed the likes of Patrick Tambay and Alain Prost to Formula One, Didier Pironi made his top-flight debut on January 15, 1978. This was with Ken Tyrrell's team which, despite being United Kingdom, had a strong working relationship with Elf, dating back to the late 1960s. In the same year, Pironi was part of the massive Renault squad tasked with winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Partnering Jean-Pierre Jaussaud in the team's second car, the unusual "bubble roof" Renault Alpine A442, he won the race by four laps from the rival Porsche 936.

Two seasons with the underfinanced Tyrrell Racing team demonstrated enough promise for Guy Ligier to sign Pironi to his rather erratic eponymous French team in 1980 Formula One season, a season in which Didier recorded his first victory, in the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, as well as several podium finishes. Indeed, such were Pironi's performances that as early as the second race of the season, Enzo Ferrari expressed an interest in the Frenchman's services, which he secured for 1981 Formula One season.

Teamed with Gilles Villeneuve, Pironi was rather shaded in his first season with Ferrari, though Villeneuve welcomed the Frenchman and treated him as an equal. For someone so preoccupied with becoming the first French driver to win the Formula One title, the events of this year may have played a role in the turbulent and unhappy 1982 Formula One season campaign. Establishing a fine rapport with the senior members of the team, Pironi arguably exploited this good relationship in the aftermath of the notorious 1982 San Marino Grand Prix race where he is widely thought to have duped Villeneuve into conceding victory by giving the impression that he would follow his Canadian team-mate through the final lap, only to unexpectedly power past him into the Tosa hairpin. Pironi's friendship with senior members in the team resulted in his dubious story of "engine problems" for both cars gaining widespread currency, much to Villeneuve's chagrin. The Canadian would be killed in qualifying at the following 1982 Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, and his furious state of mind is often considered a contributory cause to his accident.

With a fast, reliable car, the title looked to be Pironi's for the taking, but the Frenchman's own state of mind underwent severe stress due to several factors. Widespread antipathy was directed toward him in the wake of the Zolder tragedy, since he was criticized for reneging on his relationship afforded by Villeneuve. There was also the breakdown of his marriage, and he observed at first hand the death of Riccardo Paletti in the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix, the young Italian ploughing into Pironi's stalled Ferrari on the starting grid. Some of these events may have resulted in the over-confidence and arrogance that team members are reported to have observed in Pironi's behaviour at subsequent events, including an absolute certainty that he would win the title. In such a mindset, he unnecessarily lapped a drenched Hockenheim during a practice session at the 1982 German Grand Prix at high speed. Passing Derek Daly's WilliamsF1, Pironi, unsighted, smashed into the back of Alain Prost's Renault F1, triggering a violent accident which bore some similarity to that suffered by Villeneuve. Pironi survived, but injuries to his legs meant he never raced again. At this point, he was leading with 39 points in the championship, ahead of Watson (30) and Rosberg (27), but Pironi was relegated to runner-up as Rosberg passed him to become World Champion with 44 points.

In his Formula One career Didier Pironi won 3 races, achieved 13 podiums, and scored a total of 101 championship points. He also secured 4 Pole position.

Death


In 1986 it looked as if Pironi would make a comeback when he tested for the France Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives team. Although he proved that he was still fast enough to be competitive in Formula One, Pironi decided to turn to Powerboat racing instead. On August 23, 1987, Pironi was killed in an accident near the Isle of Wight, that also took the life of his two crew members: journalist Bernard Giroux and his old friend Jean-Claude Guenard, when the boat rode over a rough wave caused by an Oil tanker, causing the boat to flip over.

Some weeks after Pironi's death his girlfriend gave birth to twins. She decided to name them "Didier" and "Gilles".

Three years later, a similar accident which took the life of Stefano Casiraghi, a member of the Line of succession to the Monegasque throne, caused changes to a number of regulations.

Complete Formula One World Championship results


(F1 driver results legend 2) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Yr Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WDC Points
1978 Formula One season Elf Aquitaine Tyrrell Racing Tyrrell Racing Tyrrell 008 Cosworth V8 1978 Argentine Grand Prix
14
1978 Brazilian Grand Prix
6
1978 South African Grand Prix
6
1978 United States Grand Prix West
Ret
1978 Monaco Grand Prix
5
1978 Belgian Grand Prix
6
1978 Spanish Grand Prix
12
1978 Swedish Grand Prix
Ret
1978 French Grand Prix
10
1978 British Grand Prix
Ret
1978 German Grand Prix
5
1978 Austrian Grand Prix
Ret
1978 Dutch Grand Prix
Ret
1978 Italian Grand Prix
Ret
1978 United States Grand Prix
10
1978 Canadian Grand Prix
7
15th 7
1979 Formula One season Tyrrell Racing Tyrrell Racing Tyrrell 009 Cosworth V8 1979 Argentine Grand Prix
Ret
1979 Brazilian Grand Prix
4
1979 South African Grand Prix
Ret
1979 United States Grand Prix West
DSQ
1979 Spanish Grand Prix
6
10th 14
Candy (company) Tyrrell Racing 1979 Belgian Grand Prix
3
1979 Monaco Grand Prix
Ret
1979 French Grand Prix
Ret
1979 British Grand Prix
10
1979 German Grand Prix
9
1979 Austrian Grand Prix
7
1979 Dutch Grand Prix
Ret
1979 Italian Grand Prix
10
1979 Canadian Grand Prix
5
1979 United States Grand Prix
3
1980 Formula One season Ligier Gitanes Ligier Ligier JS11 Cosworth V8 1980 Argentine Grand Prix
Ret
1980 Brazilian Grand Prix
4
1980 South African Grand Prix
3
1980 United States Grand Prix West
6
1980 Belgian Grand Prix
1
1980 Monaco Grand Prix
Ret
1980 French Grand Prix
2
1980 British Grand Prix
Ret
1980 German Grand Prix
Ret
1980 Austrian Grand Prix
Ret
1980 Dutch Grand Prix
Ret
1980 Italian Grand Prix
6
1980 Canadian Grand Prix
3
1980 United States Grand Prix
3
5th 32
1981 Formula One season Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari 126C Ferrari V6 1981 United States Grand Prix West
Ret
1981 Brazilian Grand Prix
Ret
1981 Argentine Grand Prix
Ret
1981 San Marino Grand Prix
5
1981 Belgian Grand Prix
8
1981 Monaco Grand Prix
4
1981 Spanish Grand Prix
15
1981 French Grand Prix
5
1981 British Grand Prix
Ret
1981 German Grand Prix
Ret
1981 Austrian Grand Prix
9
1981 Dutch Grand Prix
Ret
1981 Italian Grand Prix
5
1981 Canadian Grand Prix
Ret
1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix
9
13th 9
1982 Formula One season Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari 126C Ferrari V6 1982 South African Grand Prix
18
1982 Brazilian Grand Prix
6
1982 United States Grand Prix West
Ret
1982 San Marino Grand Prix
1
1982 Belgian Grand Prix
DNS
1982 Monaco Grand Prix
2
1982 Detroit Grand Prix
3
1982 Canadian Grand Prix
9
1982 Dutch Grand Prix
1
1982 British Grand Prix
2
1982 French Grand Prix
3
1982 German Grand Prix
DNS
1982 Austrian Grand Prix
1982 Swiss Grand Prix
1982 Italian Grand Prix
1982 Caesars Palace Grand Prix
2nd 39


References

  1. FIA Year Book of Automobile Sport 1979. Patrick Stephens Ltd.. white p. 40. ISBN 0850593204. 

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bruno Giacomelli
List of Monaco Grand Prix Formula Three support race winners
1977
Succeeded by
Elio de Angelis
Preceded by
Jacky Ickx
Hurley Haywood
Jürgen Barth
List of 24 Hours of Le Mans winners
1978 24 Hours of Le Mans with:
Jean-Pierre Jaussaud
Succeeded by
Klaus Ludwig
Bill Whittington
Don Whittington
Personal tools