Depailler at Dijon in 1975
9 August 1944|
|Died||1 August 1980
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Active years||1972, 1974–1980|
|Teams||Tyrrell, Ligier, Alfa Romeo|
|Career points||139 (141)|
|First race||1972 French Grand Prix|
|First win||1978 Monaco Grand Prix|
|Last win||1979 Spanish Grand Prix|
|Last race||1980 British Grand Prix|
Patrick André Eugène Joseph Depailler (9 August 1944 – 1 August 1980) was a racing driver from France. He participated in 95 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 2 July 1972. He also participated in several non-Championship Formula One races.
Depailler was born in Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dôme. As a child, he was inspired by Jean Behra. Talented and charismatic, Depailler never quite drove the kind of machinery his talent deserved, joining a Tyrrell team that was beginning a long, slow decline, eventually moving to the erratic Ligier team before finally ending up with the revived Alfa Romeo squad in 1980. Depailler was helping to advance this team up the grid when he was killed in a crash at Hockenheim on 1 August 1980, during a private testing session.
He won 2 races, secured 1 pole position, achieved 19 podiums, and scored a total of 141 championship points.
Sports cars and Formula Two
Depailler finished .9 seconds behind Peter Gethin in the 1972 Formula Two Pau Grand Prix. He battled Gethin closely in a March 922 over the 70-lap course which curved through the French city. Both drivers lapped the field twice. Depailler came in 3rd with a time of 1:31:40.5 in an April 1973 Formula Two race at the Nürburgring. He was driving a Ford Alpine. In May 1974 Depailler qualified his March to 1st position in qualifying for the Formula Two Pau Grand Prix. He recorded a time of 1 minute 16.17 seconds for an average speed of 80.8 miles per hour. In June he crashed his March 742 through a guard rail during time trials for a Formula Two race in Salzburgring. Depailler was uninjured but qualifying was stopped so that workmen could replace a section of railing which was torn off in the accident.
In April 1976 the Renault sports car team suspended Depailler for three races after he was involved in a crash which knocked out both his car and the Renault of teammate Jean-Pierre Jabouille. The incident occurred on the second turn, slightly more than a mile after the beginning of a 180-mile (290 km) race at the Nürburgring. Depailler lost control and wrecked, after which Jabouille crashed while attempting to avoid his teammate. The drivers had been instructed not to contest the lead with each other. Depailler placed 2nd in the 1976 Swedish Formula J Grand Prix. He was 19 seconds behind winner Jody Scheckter. Depailler recorded a time of 1:47:17 over 72 laps. Depailler drove in the International Race of Champions event at Riverside International Raceway in September 1978. He was behind the wheel of the Paul Newman entered Spyder-Chevy in the October 1978 California Grand Prix.
Tyrrell (1972 - 1978)
Tyrrell had given Depailler drives at France and Watkins Glen in 1972. Using one of the older cars, Depailler had driven skilfully, and had recorded an impressive seventh place in the latter race. So in December 1973 Depailler was chosen with Scheckter to drive for Tyrrell, to replace the deceased François Cevert and retired Jackie Stewart. Depailler captured the pole for the 1974 Swedish Grand Prix, his 9th race as a Formula One driver. He negotiated the 2.49-mile (4.01 km) Anderstorp course in a time of 1 minute, 24.758 seconds, for an average speed of 105.8 miles per hour. Depailler would finish 2nd in the race behind team-mate Jody Scheckter; this proved his only podium of the year.
In January 1975 Depailler was given 25-1 odds of becoming the 1975 Formula One World Champion. He finished 5th in the 1975 Argentine Grand Prix in Buenos Aires. He took 3rd at Kyalami in the 1975 South African Grand Prix. Depailler stayed behind 2nd place finisher, Carlos Reutemann, throughout the 78 laps of the event. On the first day of qualifying for the 1975 United States Grand Prix, Depailler crashed his Tyrrell into a catch fence at Watkins Glen. He was not injured.
Depailler came in 2nd in the 1976 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. With a speed of 86.69 mph (139.51 km/h). In qualifying for the 1976 United States Grand Prix West, Depailler exceeded his lap record at Monte Carlo by 4 mph (6.4 km/h). His Tyrrell circuited the street course in Long Beach, California in 1:23.884. He ended up 2nd to Clay Regazzoni on the 2nd day of time trials, with a speed of 87.31. Depailler gained a 3rd place finish but drew the ire of rival James Hunt, who went out on the 4th lap. Hunt claimed that Depailler forced him off the track and shook his fist at him after his exit from the race. Depailler, who wrestled with brake trouble, claimed that he did not see the English driver in his mirrors. Depailler placed his six-wheeled Tyrrell in 3rd position for the start of the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix with a time of 1:30.33. The Tyrrells of Scheckter and Depailler were the only cars able to stay on the same lap with Lauda's Ferrari, who won from pole position. Depailler was 2nd to Hunt in the 1976 French Grand Prix at Le Castellet. He achieved a time of 1:41:11.30. Hunt held off a determined Depailler at Mosport Park in the 1976 Canadian Grand Prix. Both drivers were ill at the conclusion of the event, with Depailler having inhaled fumes over the last third of the race. He lost consciousness after pulling his car off at the first corner following the finish. He regained consciousness momentarily. Depailler finished 2nd ahead of Hunt (who nevertheless secured the 1976 drivers championship by finishing third) at the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix, despite encountering tire problems as the Fuji Speedway track dried from heavy rains.
He skidded off the Interlagos track at Sao Paulo during the 1977 Brazilian Grand Prix. He was hospitalized with a leg injury. Depailler qualified in the 6th row, 12th position, for the 1977 United States Grand Prix West. His time was 87.959. In December 1977 Depailler was promoted to the number one driver for Tyrrell, when Ronnie Peterson left to drive for Lotus. At the same time Tyrrell revealed that it was quitting its experiment with six-wheeled Formula One cars.
Depailler was 3rd in the 1978 Argentine Grand Prix in an Elf-Tyrrell. He covered the 52 laps in 1:37:18.11. Peterson passed Depailler on the last turn of the last lap at Kyalami, to claim the 1978 South African Grand Prix. Depailler's car was running short of fuel, allowing Peterson to erase a 9 second gap to win. Depailler made a strong move to climb from 12th starting place to end in 3rd position in the 1978 United States Grand Prix West. Depailler gained his first Formula One triumph by winning the 1978 Monaco Grand Prix. Piloting a Tyrrell-Ford 008, Depailler secured the 36th annual event, with a time of 1:55:14.66 over 75 laps, for an average speed of 80.359 mph (129.325 km/h). It was his first victory in 69 championship races, although he had been 2nd eight times.
Depailler switched to the Ligier team for 1979. The marque began to field cars with V-8 Ford Cosworth engines, rather than the French-built Matra V-12 engines of 1978. Depailler led the first 10 laps before his engine experienced problems in the 1979 Argentine Grand Prix. He was forced to make a pit stop but managed a 4th place finish. Depailler came in 2nd to his victorious teammate, Jacques Laffite, in the 1979 Brazilian Grand Prix. Laffite was more than 5 seconds ahead at the end of the race. Depailler made contact with the fence at "Barbecue Bend" in the 1979 South African Grand Prix.
Ligier team manager, Gerard Ducarouge, said that the Ligier JS-11 had been in the planning stages for some time. The JS-9 had been tested as a "wing car" following the 1978 United States Grand Prix West, but the wind tunnel tests proved unsatisfactory. The JS-11 was built and tested in December 1978, with positive results. The V-8 engine was lighter and the Cosworth exhaust system was modified so that it sounded much the same as the old Matra engine's distinctive whine. The new body features of the JS-11 were revealed at the 1979 United States Grand Prix West.
Depailler posted a flag-to-flag win at Jarama in the 1979 Spanish Grand Prix. The win enabled him to tie Gilles Villeneuve in the standings for the Formula One world championship at the end of April, with 20 points each. Depailler posted 3rd position in qualifying for the 1979 Monaco Grand Prix on a staggered grid. Depailler was replaced in June 1979 by Ligier, after breaking both legs in a hang gliding incident. The race team was receiving financial support from the French government, which specified that the new driver be French. On 29 August Depailler said that he was "resigned not to race again until next year." He expected to leave a Paris hospital by the end of the week. He had undergone a number of operations on his legs, both of which were broken while hang-gliding on 3 June, near his hometown of Clermont-Ferrand. His heel was also critically injured. He had hopes to attend both the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix and the 1979 United States Grand Prix as a spectator.
Alfa Romeo (1980)
In 1980, Depailler joined the newly formed Alfa Romeo team, that was on a comeback trail: Depailler had worked his way back from a hang-gliding accident the previous year, and had equipped his car with special brakes designed to toughen his leg muscles, he was still driving in pain by the time of his fatal accident and the car was fast (he qualified 3rd for the 1980 United States Grand Prix West) but not reliable enough to finish. He was killed testing for the 1980 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, when a suspension failure pitched his car into the Armco at the high-speed Ostkurve, inflicting fatal head injuries when the vehicle overturned and vaulted the barrier. The Alfa Romeo skidded along the top of the guard rail for several hundred feet prior to flipping onto its top.
A radio-controlled car racing circuit is named in honour of him at his hometown. The Mini Circuit Patrick Depailler is one of the oldest tracks in France and was used to host an IFMAR meeting in 1999.
As a result of his fatal accident, a new chicane was built into the Ostkurve at the Hockenheim circuit in order to slow the cars down (previously it was a flat out curving right hander). The new Ostkurve Schikane was first used during the 1982 German Grand Prix.
Depailler, as portrayed by Daniel Christodolou, can be seen in the 2013 film Rush, directed by Ron Howard.
Complete World Championship Formula One results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
- Up until 1990, not all points scored by a driver contributed to their final World Championship tally (see list of points scoring systems for more information). Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.
- Article-No Title, New York Times, 8 May 1972, Page 53.
- Wisell Wins Formula Two Race, New York Times, 30 April 1973, Page 42.
- Wohlhuter's Team Victor At Quantico, New York Times, 4 May 1974, Page 32.
- Depailler Car Crashes, New York Times, 1 June 1974, Page 23.
- People In Sports, New York Times, 8 April 1976, Page 52.
- Scheckter Wins In Six-Wheeler, Los Angeles Times, 14 June 1976, Page F8.
- IROC, Los Angeles Times, 21 September 1978, F10.
- "British Stamp Car's Alain de Cadenet to debut at Riverside", Los Angeles Times, 10 October 1978, Page D11.
- Ickx Joins Peterson At Lotus, New York Times, 2 December 1973, Page 296.
- Depailler Gains Pole In Sweden, New York Times, 9 June 1974, Page 214.
- Handicapping '75 Driver Title Race, New York Times, 5 January 1975, Page S15.
- E. Fittipaldi Victor In Grand Prix, New York Times, 13 January 1975, Page 53.
- Scheckter Takes Grand Prix, New York Times, 2 March 1975, Page 187.
- Lauda, in 'Training Car', Paces Qualifying at Glen, New York Times, 4 October 1975, Page 22.
- Lauda Wins Brazil Grand Prix, New York Times, 26 January 1976, Page 34.
- Depailler's Car Is Speediest, New York Times, 27 March 1976, Page 46.
- Regazzoni Takes Coast Race Pole, New York Times, 28 March 1976, Page 175.
- Regazzoni Drives a Ferrari To Grand Prix West Victory, New York Times, 29 March 1976, Page 52.
- Lauda to Start on Pole Today, New York Times, 30 May 1976, Page 129.
- Lauda Triumphs Again in Monaco Grand Prix, New York Times, 31 May 1976, Page 24.
- Hunt Winner as Ferraris Fall Out, Los Angeles Times, 5 July 1976, Page D8.
- Canadian Race Taken By Hunt, Los Angeles Times, 4 October 1976, Page D7.
- Hunt, Andretti Both Win In Fog, Los Angeles Times, 25 October 1976, Page D7.
- Reutemann Ferrari Wins Brazil Race, Los Angeles Times, 24 January 1977, Page E7.
- Hunt Still Savoring World Title: Lauda Wins the Pole, Los Angeles Times, 3 April 1977, Page D1.
- Lauda's Switch Sparks Shuffle, Los Angeles Times, 9 December 1977, Page OC15.
- Andretti Wins Shortened Argentine Grand Prix, Los Angeles Times, 16 January 1978, Page D14.
- Peterson Wins South Africa Race on Last Turn of Last Lap, Los Angeles Times, 5 March 1978, Page C6.
- It's A Big Day for Reutemann and Long Beach, Los Angeles Times, 3 April 1978, Page D1.
- Depailler Scores First Grand Prix Win, Los Angeles Times, 8 May 1978, Page E5.
- Andretti Sets Some High Goals, Los Angeles Times, 18 January 1979, Page D11.
- Ligier setting GP world on its ear, Los Angeles Times, 2 April 1979, Page H14.
- "Capsule look at Formula One series action so far this year", Los Angeles Times, 2 April 1979, Page H27.
- Laffite Two for Two With Victory in Brazil, Los Angeles Times, 5 February 1979, Page D5.
- A Tire Gamble Gives Canada's Villeneuve Win, Los Angeles Times, 4 March 1979, Page E8.
- Depailler Wins Spanish Grand Prix, Washington Post, 30 April 1979, Page D6.
- Scheckter Wins Monaco Pole, Washington Post, 27 May 1979, Page D8.
- Motor Sports, Washington Post, 24 June 1979, Page A1.
- Depailler Resigned To Sideline Status, Washington Post, 30 August 1979, Page C13.
- Depailler Dies In Accident, Washington Post, 2 August 1980, Page C4.
- "Virtualrc.com". Virtualrc.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
|French Formula Three
|Monaco Formula Three
|European Formula Two
|Formula One fatal accidents
1 August 1980