Jean-Pierre Jabouille 1979 France French
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Jean-Pierre Jabouille, first Formula 1 winner with Renault, dies

Yesterday, February 2, the former driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille died, who in 1979 gave Renault its first victory in Formula 1. That was the first victory for a turbo engine in the premier class.

Jean Pierre Jabouille He passed away at the age of 80 after a prolific career that included two Formula 1 wins. Degree in engineering, took his first steps in competition in the Cup Renault 8 Gordini, the French counterpart to our TS Cup. Only a year later he made the leap to single-seaters, to French Formula 3, where he would finish runner-up the following year to another well-known name: François Cevert.

recruited by Alpine as a development pilot, participates in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1968 and 1969. Later he would sign for Matra, with whom he would run the test the following years, finishing third in 1973 and 1974. He would then sign for Renault, again in charge of the development, in this case, of the new turbocharged F1 car. With the signature of the rhombus he would be European F2 champion in 1976. He would also participate in Le Mans with little luck.


Although he had driven three Grands Prix before, Jean-Pierre Jabouille's real chance in the F1 It came from the hand of Renault. He was in charge of debuting the Renault RS01 with a V6 1.5 turbo engine in 1977. The beginnings were very complicated, with continuous breakages that earned the car the nickname of the “yellow kettle”, since the races always ended steaming.

Yet in the 1979 French Grand Prix history changed forever. Jean-Pierre Jabouille took a victory that shook the foundations of Formula 1, as he demonstrated that the turbo was the technology of the future. The years of the Ford DFV engine were beginning to be left behind. Unfortunately for Jabouille, the duel between Gilles Villeneuve and his partner Rene Arnoux I stole the limelight. He would still win one more race, the Asutrian GP the following year, before contesting his last F1 races in 1981 at the hands of Ligier. Total played 49 Grand Prix, achieving six pole positions, two podiums and the two victories that we have cited.

Semi-retired, he would run the 1989 Hours of Le Mans in 24 with the Sauber team, finishing fifth. Although his last big chance it came from the hand of Peugeot . The French team took over their services for the development of their new 905. In addition, he ran the last two events of the 1990 Sport Prototype World Championship and in Le Mans the following three years. He was the only driver to be in the Peugeot 905 program from start to finish and he added two more third places in the 24 Hours to his private collection.

Photos: Renault and Peugeot.

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Written by Ivan Vicario Martin

I am lucky to have turned my passion into my way of earning a living. Since I left the Faculty of Information Sciences in 2004, I have been professionally dedicated to motor journalism. I started in the magazine Coches Clásicos in its beginnings, going on to direct it in 2012, the year in which I also took charge of Clásicos Populares. Throughout these almost two decades of my professional career, I have worked in all types of media, including magazines, radio, the web and television, always in formats and programs related to the engine. I am crazy about the classics, Formula 1 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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