Jean-Pierre Jabouille, the French racing driver famous for taking Renault’s first victory in Formula 1, has died aged 80.
During a racing career that spanned the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, Jabouille competed in 55 F1 Grands Prix between 1974 and 1981, making 49 starts and taking two wins. The first of these came at the 1979 French Grand Prix at Dijon, when Renault became the first team to win a race with a turbocharged car, although Jabouille’s achievement was largely overshadowed by the legendary duel for second place between Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux.
His second and final victory came a year later, at the 1980 Austrian Grand Prix. He signed a contract with Ligier for 1981, but a crash at the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix left him with a badly broken leg. Still not fully fit, he eventually joined his new team part-way through the 1981 season, but was a shadow of his former self, and called time on his F1 career after just four races.
Aside from F1, Jabouille was also a regular at the Le Mans 24 Hours, where he first reached the podium in 1973, co-driving a Matra-Simca MS670B with fellow-Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, and then again in ’74 with François Migault.
Following a single outing in the World Touring Car Championship in 1987, Jabouille made his return to competitive racing at La Sarthe in 1989, finishing fifth for the Sauber-Mercedes team. His final act would see him drive for the newly formed Peugeot Talbot Sport team during its first seasons in sportscars. At the wheel of the Peugeot 905 Group C car, Jabouille took two podium finishes at the 1992 and 1993 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Beyond his talents in the car, Jabouille had a background in engineering, and was credited as one of the designers of the Renault RS01 in which he and the team debuted the turbo engine at the 1977 British Grand Prix. When he retired from racing in 1993, he returned to engineering and became the head of Peugeot’s fledgling engine programme that partnered with McLaren, Jordan and Prost throughout the 1990s.