Olivier Panis

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Olivier Panis
Olivier Panis.jpg
June 2009
Born (1966-09-02) 2 September 1966 (age 48)
Oullins, Lyon, France
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality France French
Active years 1994–1999, 2001–2004
Teams Ligier, Prost, BAR, Toyota
Races 158 (157 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 1
Podiums 5
Career points 76
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1994 Brazilian Grand Prix
First win 1996 Monaco Grand Prix
Last win 1996 Monaco Grand Prix
Last race 2004 Japanese Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years 2008 - 2011
Teams Team Oreca Matmut
Best finish 5th (2009)
Class wins 0

Olivier Panis (born 2 September 1966 in Oullins, Lyon) is a French racing driver. Panis drove in Formula One for ten seasons, scoring one win at the eventful 1996 Monaco Grand Prix for the Ligier team. As of 2014, he is the last French driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix.

Career[edit]

Panis, like most drivers, raced karts early in his career. After graduating from karts, Olivier raced several years in a number of "junior" series before racing in French Formula 3. He won a championship in that series in 1991. He eventually found himself in Formula 3000, and he won the series' championship there in 1993.

Formula One[edit]

The 27-year old Panis earned an F1 drive in 1994 for the French-based Ligier team. He made his debut at Brazil, finishing eleventh. He earned a surprise second place that season at Hockenheim ahead of teammate Éric Bernard, and finished 11th in the standings for the marque. He finished every race except France. He was however disqualified in Portugal for illegal skid block wear.

Panis driving for Ligier at the 1995 British Grand Prix.

The following year in 1995, he earned another surprise second place at the Australian Grand Prix, in spite of being two laps behind the leader Damon Hill, and he also added a handful of fourths to his resume, giving him an 8th place finish in the championship.

Undoubtedly, though, his biggest surprise came in 1996 in Monaco. Starting a lowly 14th on a wet track, Panis bravely and confidently passed other rivals on the narrow circuit, including Martin Brundle, Mika Häkkinen and Johnny Herbert, and timed his change onto slick tyres perfectly. He overtook Eddie Irvine at the Lowes Hairpin and was running in a deserved third place before the Williams-Renault of Damon Hill and Benetton-Renault of Jean Alesi both hit terminal technical difficulties. One of only 3 cars to finish the race, (Brits David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert being the other two) Panis held off a late charge from Coulthard to win. The race finished on 75 of the 78 scheduled laps due to the two hour rule. Panis' victory was the Ligier team's first victory in 15 years (and their last), and it was the first French victory in a French car at Monaco in 66 years. However, it was the only highlight to his 1996 season, and he otherwise failed to do any better than 5th place in Hungary.

Panis had the potential for a big season in 1997 while driving for Alain Prost, who had purchased Ligier. On Bridgestone tyres, he took the tyre company's first podium at Brazil. He was running a very competitive second in Argentina before retirement. After 6 races, he stood third in the championship thanks to another podium finish with second place in Spain. He could have won that race if he did not get stuck in traffic for seven laps, losing him a total of 6 seconds to leader Jacques Villeneuve.[1] It all fell apart however in Canada, when he broke both legs in a high speed accident, causing him to miss the next seven races of the season. His place in the team was taken by Jarno Trulli, until he returned for the final three races of the season. He achieved sixth place at Luxembourg and appeared to show that he had fully recovered from his accident, as he drove as well as he had done before the crash. Despite missing half of the year, he still managed 9th in the championship with 16 points.

Olivier Panis driving for the Prost Formula One team in Montreal in 1998

1998 would prove to be a difficult season for Panis. He failed to score a single point for the Prost team, primarily due to a poor quality car. However, his full potential was restricted by the pins which remained in his legs, a legacy of the surgery following his crash in 1997. The highlight of the season was a ninth place finish in Australia, although he also ran strongly at, ironically, Canada until car failure intervened. An indicator of the team's problems in 1998 was the solitary point scored by Panis' team-mate Jarno Trulli at Spa-Francorchamps.

The following year saw an improvement for the partnership. A stronger car, and unusual circumstances, saw an irregular return to form for the Frenchman. After a troubled race he still claimed 6th in Brazil, a feat he repeated at Hockenheim. He began to qualify much more strongly, with a third place in France, fifth at the Nurburgring, and sixth at Suzuka, where he spent the first stages of the race in third. Despite the signs of a return to form in 1999, strategical errors and misfortune restricted his points tally. Irrespective of the improvements, Panis ended his relationship with the Prost team.

Panis was a consideration to drive for Williams, a team that was in a state of flux at the time, but turned it down to test for McLaren. This helped showcase Panis to other top teams in F1, where he would regularly match the testing times of regular drivers David Coulthard and double World Champion Mika Häkkinen. Due to this he landed a drive with BAR for 2001. BAR wasn't the top team he had hoped, and he finished in 14th place during both of the years he was there, scoring a total of 8 points. His highest finish for BAR was in Brazil with fourth position. He had been fourth at his debut race for the team in Australia but was penalised for a yellow flag infringement which added twenty five seconds to his race time and put him seventh, and enabled Kimi Räikkönen to score a debut point.

Olivier Panis driving for Toyota at the 2004 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, his 150th Grand Prix.

Panis left for Toyota's racing team in 2003. He was signed to drive and provide the second-year team his knowledge, as well as help his new Brazilian teammate, Cristiano da Matta, learn the ropes of F1. Early results were an improvement, in part because he handled the new one-lap qualifying well, but the end result wasn't much different from previous seasons, as he was 15th with 6 points.

Panis remained with Toyota for 2004, his tenth season in Formula One. In early October 2004 he announced his intention to retire from racing following the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix; he planned to continue at Toyota as a test driver in 2005 and 2006. Before his retirement, he was the oldest active driver in F1 at the age of 37. 2004 saw him again score only 6 points, before being replaced for Brazil by his Brazilian teammate test driver Ricardo Zonta.

He was the nominated third driver for Toyota in France in 2005, but this was the last time he participated competitively at a Grand Prix weekend. On 18 September 2006, Panis announced his complete retirement from F1 in order to race in other disciplines.[2] His final outing as a Formula 1 test driver took place at Jerez, Spain on 14 December 2006.

Panis was highly regarded for his racecraft. He was also considered by the likes of Mika Häkkinen, who was particularly upset when Panis left the McLaren testing team to return to full-time driving, to be one of the best test-drivers on the field.

Sport Cars[edit]

Panis driving for Oreca at the 2010 1000 km of Spa.

He returned to racing in 2008 with the Oreca Courage team in the Le Mans Series. He has also worked as a consultant for the French A1 Grand Prix team[3] and participated in the Andros Trophy ice race.[4] He had an appearance in an episode of Top Gear, facing the team in an ice race, and was jokingly referred to in the intro as 'France's second-best racing driver', presumably second to Alain Prost.

Racing record[edit]

Complete International Formula 3000 results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DC Points
1992 Apomatox Reynard/92D Ford Cosworth SIL
3
PAU
Ret
CAT
7
PER
Ret
HOC
20
NÜR
Ret
SPA
Ret
ALB
Ret
NOG
Ret
MAG
2
10th 10
1993 DAMS Reynard/93D Ford Cosworth DON
3
SIL
6
PAU
Ret
PER
Ret
HOC
1
NÜR
1
SPA
1
MAG
10
NOG
Ret
1st 32

Complete Formula One results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 WDC Points
1994 Ligier Gitanes Blondes Ligier JS39B Renault RS6 3.5 V10 BRA
11
PAC
9
SMR
11
MON
9
ESP
7
CAN
12
FRA
Ret
GBR
12
GER
2
HUN
6
BEL
7
ITA
10
POR
DSQ
EUR
9
JPN
11
AUS
5
11th 9
1995 Ligier Gitanes Blondes Ligier JS41 Mugen Honda MF301 3.0 V10 BRA
Ret
ARG
7
SMR
9
ESP
6
MON
Ret
CAN
4
FRA
8
GBR
4
GER
Ret
HUN
6
BEL
9
ITA
Ret
POR
Ret
EUR
Ret
PAC
8
JPN
5
AUS
2
8th 16
1996 Ligier Gauloises Blondes Ligier JS43 Mugen Honda MF301HA 3.0 V10 AUS
7
BRA
6
ARG
8
EUR
Ret
SMR
Ret
MON
1
ESP
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
7
GBR
Ret
GER
7
HUN
5
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
POR
10
JPN
7
9th 13
1997 Prost Gauloises Blondes Prost JS45 Mugen Honda MF301HA/B 3.0 V10 AUS
5
BRA
3
ARG
Ret
SMR
8
MON
4
ESP
2
CAN
11
FRA
GBR
GER
HUN
BEL
ITA
AUT
LUX
6
JPN
Ret
EUR
7
9th 16
1998 Gauloises Prost Peugeot Prost AP01 Peugeot A16 3.0 V10 AUS
9
BRA
Ret
ARG
15
SMR
11
ESP
16
MON
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
11
GBR
Ret
AUT
Ret
GER
15
HUN
12
BEL
DNS
ITA
Ret
LUX
12
JPN
11
NC 0
1999 Gauloises Prost Peugeot Prost AP02 Peugeot A18 3.0 V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
6
SMR
Ret
MON
Ret
ESP
Ret
CAN
9
FRA
8
GBR
13
AUT
10
GER
6
HUN
10
BEL
13
ITA
11
EUR
9
MAL
Ret
JPN
Ret
15th 2
2001 Lucky Strike BAR Honda BAR 003 Honda RA001E 3.0 V10 AUS
7
MAL
Ret
BRA
4
SMR
8
ESP
7
AUT
5
MON
Ret
CAN
Ret
EUR
Ret
FRA
9
GBR
Ret
GER
7
HUN
Ret
BEL
11
ITA
9
USA
11
JPN
13
14th 5
2002 Lucky Strike BAR Honda BAR 004 Honda RA002E 3.0 V10 AUS
Ret
MAL
Ret
BRA
Ret
SMR
Ret
ESP
Ret
AUT
Ret
MON
Ret
CAN
8
EUR
9
GBR
5
FRA
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
12
BEL
12
ITA
6
USA
12
JPN
Ret
14th 3
2003 Panasonic Toyota Racing Toyota TF103 Toyota RVX-03 3.0 V10 AUS
Ret
MAL
Ret
BRA
Ret
SMR
9
ESP
Ret
AUT
Ret
MON
13
CAN
8
EUR
Ret
FRA
8
GBR
11
GER
5
HUN
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
Ret
JPN
10
15th 6
2004 Panasonic Toyota Racing Toyota TF104 Toyota RVX-04 3.0 V10 AUS
13
MAL
12
BHR
9
SMR
11
ESP
Ret
MON
8
EUR
11
CAN
DSQ
USA
5
FRA
15
GBR
Ret
14th 6
Toyota TF104B GER
14
HUN
11
BEL
8
ITA
Ret
CHN
14
JPN
14
BRA
2005 Panasonic Toyota Racing Toyota TF105 Toyota RVX-05 3.0 V10 AUS
MAL
BHR
SMR
ESP
MON
EUR
CAN
USA
FRA
TD
GBR
GER
HUN
TUR
ITA
BEL
BRA
JPN
CHN
- -

Complete GT1 World Championship results[edit]

Year Team Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Pos Points
2010 Matech Competition Ford ABU
QR
ABU
CR
SIL
QR
SIL
CR
BRN
QR
BRN
CR
PRI
QR

18
PRI
CR

Ret
SPA
QR
SPA
CR
NÜR
QR
NÜR
CR
ALG
QR
ALG
CR
NAV
QR
NAV
CR
INT
QR
INT
CR
SAN
QR
SAN
CR
60th 0

24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
2008 France Team Oreca-Matmut Switzerland Marcel Fässler
France Simon Pagenaud
Courage-Oreca LC70-Judd LMP1 147 DNF DNF
2009 France Team Oreca-Matmut AIM France Nicolas Lapierre
France Soheil Ayari
Oreca 01-AIM LMP1 370 5th 5th
2010 France Team Oreca-Matmut France Nicolas Lapierre
France Loïc Duval
Peugeot 908 HDi FAP LMP1 373 DNF DNF
2011 France Team Oreca-Matmut France Nicolas Lapierre
France Loïc Duval
Peugeot 908 HDi FAP LMP1 339 5th 5th

References[edit]

  1. ^ Murray Walker, Martin Brundle (Commentators) (1997). ITV F1 - Spanish Grand Prix (Television). Barcelona, Spain: ITV. 
  2. ^ Grandprix.com article dated September 18, 2006
  3. ^ "Olivier Panis joins A1 Team France". a1.gpupdate.net (GPUpdate). 26 September 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Gough, Alicia (2008-10-14). "Ice race returns to Alpe D'Huez". OnTheSnow.com. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Luca Badoer
International Formula 3000 Champion
1993
Succeeded by
Jean-Christophe Boullion