In 1978 French oil giant Elf Aquitaine funded a series of on-board videos taken from Patrick Depailler’s Tyrrell 008 for the purpose of gathering promotional material. It was part of a programme Elf ran for much of the Seventies and Eighties which saw them film not just with Tyrrell, but also with Brabham, McLaren, Ligier, Lotus, Renault and Minardi and with a handful of different drivers.
It was Depailler though who did the honours most of the time in the first few years and so it is he who comes to mind most often when we think of the pioneering days of in-car footage. Here we see the Frenchman tackling the île Notre-Dame circuit (known as the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since 1982) at what was the final round of the 1978 season and it is simply breathtaking. Typically our FoS inspired Flat-Out and Fearless… clips are from a racing scenario, but we’re happy to make an exception in this case.
The conditions were appalling. In fact, the racing surface resembles an expense of glass that’s been coated with Teflon. Despite this and with a heavy and not-so wind resistant camera fixed to the car as well as a heavy right foot, Monsieur Depailler ventured out on track to give us a taste of how late-Seventies F1 cars behaved in such circumstances. The result is one of the most impressive examples of car control we’ve seen.
As he leaves the pits he seems perilously close to wiping out a couple of officials, but this seems to put him off not one bit. Straight away he’s pushing the Cosworth DFV motor to its limits; No short-shifting here for Patrick, oh no. Instead, right from the off and despite a seemingly grip-less circuit he seems to be in full attack mode, with plenty of wheelspin and opposite lock as he grabs gear after gear. He shows no signs of backing off, nor of sliding off the track. It really is a wonder as to where all the grip is coming from.
You’ll probably watch it twice it’so good. Oh and as a bonus there’s commentary by Murray Walker. Perfect!