Depailler only won two grands prix in his career, but his raw talent was apparent every time he sat in a racing car. A champion in French Formula 3 and European Formula 2, Depailler jumped up to Formula 1 in 1972 with two races for Tyrrell. After a year away from F1 he was back in with the same team for 1974, the same year he won in F2, scoring his first pole position, his first fastest lap and his first podium.
This stunning clip was recorded in Depailler’s fifth full season in F1, at what was the first of two races in the USA that year. The track? Long Beach, and straight from pit exit Depailler is on it. Have you ever seen a current F1 driver launch out of the pits with quite the same ferocity? He barrels through the first few corners seemingly unconcerned about his tyre temperatures. The Cosworth DFV screams as Depailler storms up and down through the five-speed manual gearbox, and with the camera mounted just above his head we can see every lightning-quick steering input to keep the 008 right on the edge. There’s a fantastic sense of speed too, the concrete walls and palm trees flying by, Depailler chasing not just one but two cars through a section of high-speed corners. It looks like such a physical experience, it’s a wonder anyone was able to do more than a lap, let alone 80…
Sadly Depailler was killed in a testing accident in 1980, but it’s videos like this that remind us just how good he could be.
Welcome to Goodwood Elevenses, a mid-morning helping of motoring-related amusement to help break up your day. Watch the last video: Stunning 360 camera Porsche Bathurst onboard