As the Man with the Funny nickname was No Slouch as a Racing Driver!
The third and final ex-formula 1 Frenchman I’m remembering is Jean-Pierre Jabouille. For which if memory serves me correctly? Had the nickname of “Jelly-Belly” since many couldn’t pronounce His last name…
Uhm, actually believe I’m Cornfuzing Andy “Jelly-Belly” Granatelli with Jabouille, who the English nicknamed Jelly Baby instead, but I digress…
According to Grizzled F1 Journo’ Joe Saward, Jabouille had a most interesting career. Beginning with switching from an Art Major to Engineering, and later Engineering His own racing cars. With help from another future Formula 1 driver named Jacques Laffite. And cementing their relationship by becoming Brothers-in-law.
Jabouille first became noticed in motor racing during the late 1960’s, culminating with His finishing runner-up to Francois Cevert in the 1968 French formula 3 championship.
Jabouille was subsequently hired by Alpine as a Development Driver, racing in Formula 2 and Sports Cars for Matra, before breaking His ties to Alpine in 1975.
With backing from French Oil conglomerate ELF, Jean-Pierre constructed His own F2 chassis and finished runner-up that year to Brother-in-law Laffite. Before ultimately winning the European Formula 2 title in 1976.
He failed to qualify in His first Formula 1 outings for Iso-Marlboro (Frank Williams Racing Cars) and Surtees. Before finally making His F1 debut at the 1975 French Grand Prix. Driving the second Tyrrell and finishing 12th, ironically one place behind Laffite’s Williams entry.
Due to His Engineering prowess, Jabouille was hired by le Reggie’ in 1977 to develop it’s turbocharged Formula 1 car., the first of it’s kind With the Renault RS01 chassis proving to be quite fickle with it’s revolutionary 1.5-litre V-6 turbo lump’, the first in Formula 1 History. As the turbo engine proved to be quite fragile with reliability, suffer excessive turbo lag, and poor fuel economy!
Yet Jabouille persevered and claimed Renault’s first points position, with fourth at the 1978 United States East Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.
Next, He scored the first of His eventual six Pole positions at the 1979 South African Grand Prix. Along with making more History when fittingly winning His and Renault’s first race at their Home race at Le Castellet’s Circuit Paul Ricard! With All of Jabouille’s accomplishments being the first for a turbocharged engine in the sport.
For 1980, Jabouille claimed His second and final victory at the Austrian Grand Prix. But steadily being overshadowed by teammate Rene Arnoux, Jabouille had signed with Ligier for 1981 before a devastating accident at that year’s Canadian Grand Prix, resulting in a broken leg.
Sitting out the ’81 season’s first two races before failing to qualify in two of His next four attempts, Jabouille decided to retire from F1. Where He was ironically replaced by Patrick Tambay. With Jean-Pierre switching to a manager role instead.
For 1984, Jabouille moved from His F1 role to manage Ligier’s planned assault upon IndyCar, and specifically the Indianapolis 500.
Ligier teamed with Curb Racing, as in the same Mike Curb of today’s Curb-Agajanian racing, who currently are involved with Andretti Autosport’s Nos. 26 and 98 IndyCar entries.
From what little info I can gleam from Ye All knowing Intrawoods’, nee internet. ‘Ol superTex’s Bosom buddy Coogan’, aka Kevin cogan ran the Ligier LC02 Cosworth entry during that year’s Long Beach Grand Prix.
But the LC02 IndyCar chassis was reputedly developed from the Ligier JS21 Formula 1 chassis which had less than stellar results, and the Ligier IndyCar project quietly faded away…
Jabouille returned to Sports Car racing in the Mid-1980’s and once again, put His Engineering talents to work for Peugeot. Helping to develop Peugeot’s 905 Group C Prototype to become the dominant racecar of the early 1990’s. Winning back-to-back le 24 Heurs du Mans races between 1992-93. Along with winning the Drivers and Teams titles for the 1992 World Sports Car championship.
As Jabouille would claim His third and fourth third place finishes at Le Mans those two years, along with the same results for Matra between 1973-74.
In 1994, Jabouille succeeded Jean Todt as Head of the Peugeot Formula 1 engine project, which had a miserable season with McLaren that year, along with Jordan the next season. Leading to Jean-Pierre’s being fired in ’95. With Jabouille going onto run His own Sports Car team afterwards…