Friday, July 14, 2023

F1: Remembering Three presumably Overlooked French Formula 1 Drivers

Since I highly doubt any of today’s The Real Housewives of Formula 1 Fans know their names…


In Honour of today being Bastille Day, which occasionally makes me remember that Rush song of the same Gory name.


Wayback’ when Geddy Lee still had His Crooner “Pipes”, (Singing voice) and Rush was ascending towards Rock ‘N roll Stardom with the impending release of their fourth Studio album 2112. Following the “Darker” and oft, maligned 1975 Caress of Steel album that included the Bastille Day track, and the two singles Return of The Prince and Lakeside Park. Hmm, think I went down another Wabbit’ Hole Thar, eh!


Hence, I’d like to pay a belated tribute to three presumably, largely forgotten Formula 1 Drivers Since the names of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly and Alpine dominate today’s F1 landscape.


Ironically, and certainly by sheer CoInky-dense’, two of these former French Formula 1 Drivers from the 1980’s took the Chequered flag this past December. With Patrick Tambay Dying on December 4th at Age 73, and Phillipe Streiff on December 23rd at Age 67. Before Jean-Pierre Jabouille joined them on February 2nd at the Age of 80.


Tambay’s name tripped my Number-4 wire since He’s part of another No Fenders story that’s currently sitting on an unlit burner here upon Ye Isle of Nofendersville.


As Tambay raced in both the long forgotten SCCA Formula 5000 and reconstituted Can Am series for the late Carl Haas. Although my research denotes it was actually Haas-Hall Racing. And yes, that’s the same Jim Hall of chapparal fame! When Monsieur Tambay won the first of His eventual two Can Am championships in 1977. Before taking a second title in 1980 for then just Carl Haas Racing. Since Hall was busy obliterating the CART/PPG IndyCar World Series with His revolutionary chapparal 2K Ground effects “Yellow submarine” IndyCar in the hands of Lone Star JR’, aka Johnny Rutherford! But I digress…


Tambay made His formula 1 debut in the 1977 French Grand Prix in a “One Off” for surtees. Moving to Teddy Yip’s theodore Racing before two lean years at McLaren. Leading to His returning to Haas to clich the aforementioned second Can Am title.


Tambay would go onto ultimately record a total of 114 Grands Prix Starts for the likes of zsurtees, Theodore, McLaren, Ligier, Ferrari, Renault and Haas Lola.


With Patrick’s F1 Zenith coming whilst driving for Scuderia Ferrari between 1982-83, winning two Grands Prix. The first being the ’82 German Grand Prix just four races after replacing His stricken friend Gilles Villeneuve. And then taking His second and final victory in the ’83 San Marino Grand Prix. Which surely had to be a delight when celebrating with the Tifosi whilst piloting the famed No. 27 Ferrari synonymous  with the late Gilles!


Yet la Scuderia replaced Tambay with Michele Alboreto the following year, seeing Patrick move to le Reggie’, aka Renault for 1984. Before finishing His F1 career driving for Carl Haas’s Beatrice Force Lola project  in ‘86.


Tambay also contested le 24 Heurs du Mans four times between 1976-1989, with His loan finish being fourth for Tom Walkinshaw Racing’s (TWR) Silk cut Jaguar’s in ’89. Along with finishing third Overall twice in the grueling Dakar Rally!


Tambay later had a long career as a TV Sports Commentator, and served as Deputy Mayor for Le Cannet. Before struggling with having Parkinson’s Disease for years prior to His Death.


Of these three ex-Formula 1 Pilotes’, the one I most admire due to His perseverance of dealing with a life altering Disability is Monsieur Strieff!


 Philippe Streiff began His Motor Racing career relatively late at the Age of 22, when He won the 1977 Volant Motul competition. Before winning the Formula Renault race at Circuit Paul ricardthe the following year. Then rapidly advancing, Streiff went onto win the 1981 French formula 3 title before graduating to Formula 2.


Strieff then made His Formula 1 Debut in a third Renault chassis at Estoril in 1984. And if memory serves me correctly? This was an entry to test an In-car Camera?


Streiff then raced part season for Ligier in ’85, replacing the Crash prone Andrea “De Crasheris.” (De Cesaris) Along with a “One Off” appearance for Tyrrell, where the Frenchman raced for the following two years.


While Philippe scored His one and only F1 podium Down Under in Adelaide in 1985, finishing third. Crossing the “stripe” on three wheels after colliding with teammate Jacques Laffite!


In 1988 Philippe returned to AGS, having previously won the European Formula 3 Championship with. Now being an F1 Constructor, unfortunately was involved in a Horrible Pre-season Testing Accident at Rio de Janeiro in early 1989. Being paralyzed from the Neck Down and confined to a Wheelchair for the remainder of His life.


Yet Streiff continued His involvement in Motorsports, including forming the ELF Kart Masters programme, (Karting Masters Paris Vercy) held between 1993-2001. for which such F1 luminaries as Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have participated. Along with others like Mario Andretti, Jody Scheckter, Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti. Plus several Formula 1 drivers over the years…


Philippe also tirelessly advocated for Disability rights along with being the Importer of Adaptive Automobiles. Whilst then Blind Speed record setter Luc Costermans dedicated His accomplishment of capturing the World Blind Road Speed record in 2008 to Streiff.


With Blind Machinist Dan Parker setting the Guinness speed record for a Blind person in 2022…