His family informed the French news agency AFP on Sunday of Tambay’s passing. Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative ailment that affects the nervous system, and diabetes were reported to have involved him.
All about Patrick
Tambay, who was born on June 25, 1949, spent a decade in Formula One, competing for such prestigious teams as McLaren, Ferrari, and Renault.
At the 1977 French Grand Prix, Patrick made his Grand Prix debut with Surtees but failed to qualify. Afterwards, he joined Theodore Racing for the remainder of the season.
His debut season with McLaren the following year delivered a highest finish of fourth, which would remain his best performance in F1 until he was called up by Ferrari in the middle of the 1982 season to replace Gilles Villeneuve after the Canadian’s death at Zolder.
“He was one of the true stars of the 80s winning two races with the Scuderia and contributing to winning the Manufacturers’ titles in 1982 and 1983.”
Current Alpine driver Esteban Ocon also paid tribute, writing: “I just heard the sad news about Patrick Tambay’s death. An icon of French motorsport has passed away. My thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones. Rest in peace, Patrick.”
After finishing on the podium in his second race with the Scuderia at Brands Hatch, Tambay won his first Grand Prix in the German GP two weeks later. In the final European race of the season, he finished an impressive second on Ferrari’s home ground at Monza.
Tambay’s second and last victory came in the 1983 San Marino Grand Prix. He finished fourth in the championship that year, behind title winner Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost, and Ferrari colleague Renato Arnoux.
The Frenchman spent the following two F1 seasons with Renault, adding three more podium finishes to his career total, before competing in his final grand Prix in 1986 with Team Haas, finishing sixth at the Austrian Grand Prix for his final points finish.
Tambay also had four Le Mans 24 Hours outings, the first two with Renault in 1976-1977, ending in retirement. A comeback to the French endurance classic in 1981 with Rondeau similarly resulted in a DNF, but in 1989 with Jaguar, he finished fourth overall in the legendary XJR-9.
Tambay’s subsequent ventures outside of F1 culminated in two Can-Am championships with Carl A. Haas Racing in 1977 and 1980.
He was behind the wheel of a racing car as late as 2006 when he participated in two Grand Prix Masters events.
Tambay’s best championship finish was fourth in 1983 before he was replaced by Michele Alboreto and moved to Renault. Before retiring in 1986, he participated in Formula 1 for three more seasons. Additionally, he competed four times in the Le Mans 24 Hours, finishing fourth in 1989.
He also participated in the Paris-Dakar Rally many times, placing in the top three twice. After retiring from full-time racing, he worked as a television commentator in France and served as the deputy mayor of Le Cannet in southern France.
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