French racing legend, race driver and engineer Jean-Pierre Jabouille, who in 1979 gave Renault their first Formula 1 victory, the sport’s first-ever win by a car powered by a turbo engine, has died at the age of 80.
The Renault-owned Alpine team mourned his passing on Thursday and paid tribute to the two-times race winner as a pioneer whose victory at Dijon-Prenois was also the first in Formula One for a car with a turbocharged engine.
The team said: “He spearheaded Renault’s journey into F1 in 1977 with his resilient and dare to do attitude. His determination and dedication to succeed inspired many…we are where we are today because of Jean-Pierre and his legacy lives on.”
Jabouille made 49 starts in F1 — debuting at his home grand prix at Le Castellet with Tyrrell in 1975 before competing for Renault from 1977-80.
Despite Jabouille becoming the first French driver to win at home in 30 years, the 1979 race is widely remembered for the thrilling battle for second place between Renault’s Rene Arnoux and Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve. [The trio pictured on the podium above.]
Jabouille broke his leg in a crash in Canada in 1980 and retired after three races with Ligier in 1981. His second win had come at Austria’s Oesterreichring in 1980.
He also competed at Le Mans, and although he never won the great French endurance race he finished third on four occasions. He was the 1976 European Formula 2 Champion. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)