Jacques Laffite for, um, I dunno… some French team he raced for. He only raced for two teams in his long career (retiring as the most experienced driver of all time), well actually technically three: Frank Williams Racing (a pre-cursor to Walter Wolf Racing, which went bought by Walter Wolf he kicked out the titular Frank Williams who made Williams Grand Prix Ltd in 1977), Ligier, Williams F1 proper, and then once again Ligier.
1981 was going down to the wire. World Champion Alan Jones was out of the title race, but his team mate Carlos Reutemann lead Brazilian youngster Nelson Piquet by a single point, with Frenchman Jacques Laffite six points behind Reutemann on 53 points.
After movements on the first lap, Piquet found himself directly behind rival Reutemann in points positions as Jones went off to dominate the race en route to victory. Reutemann was eventually passed by Piquet and many others and have a poor race finishing out of the points. Piquet, dogged by fatigue all weekend due to the weather, was visibly effected and his neck unable to hold up to the high speed anti-clockewise circuit (most circuits are clockwise and neck strength is commonly built up on one side) and was overtaken by Brit Nigel Mansell dropping to fifth but still holding on for the points to win. Laffite finished sixth with one points, Reutemann finished a lap down on his team mate and in eight position. Piquet won the title and despite Reutemann losing the title the Williams team celebrated the quintessential Williams driver Alain Jones’ victory (and I don’t mean that as a metaphor or hyperbole, both Patrick Head and Sir Frank have said he was Williams embodied).
on parle français …
a French racer, driving a French car powered by a French engine for a French team backed by a French sponsor
that was the winning combination for Jacque Laffite, Ligier, Matra & Gitanes at Anderstorp during the 1977 Swedish Grand Prix
a first win for both Laffite & Ligier
Jacques Laffite, Gitanes Ligier-Matra JS7, 1977 Swedish Grand Prix, Anderstorp
Jacques Laffite Imola 1985 Ligier - Renault
A Renault turbo doing what it did best: explode.
Jacques Laffite. Ligier JS5 Matra. Long Beach, 1976.
the time Ligier ruled the world …
the start of the 1979 season saw a suprise winner in the name of Jacques Laffite, dominating the first two races in the world championship (Argentinia & Brasil (pictures)), together with his team mate Depailler securing both the top 2 qualifying positions as the top 2 race positions
for a brief moment in history it appeared Ligier would sweep away the title, but a string of DNF’s mid-season & late in the season saw Laffite slip back to a fourth place in the championship, a feat he would repeat in the next two seasons … but things never again looked better than those 3 summer weeks in South America
Surprising, this would not prove to Ligier’s most successful season despite their 3 victories, as the following season in 1980 they would secure second in the championship with two victories and 66 points. In 1981, they would drop to fourth with 44 points, including Patrick Tambay’s perfect 7 for 7 races entered with a retirement, surprisingly an improvement on the still-injured Jean-Pierre Jabouille who failed to qualify for two races.
Despite a handful of podiums in the 84 and 85 seasons (all but one scored by Jacques Laffite, who won 6 of Ligier’s 9 total Grand Prix victories), Ligier would not return to the top step of the podium until its final season in 1996, at the hands of French driver Olivier Panis. The following season they were bought by former world champion and Frenchman Alain Prost, who retained Panis’ services. Panis put in blistering performances in the first half of the 1997 season and seemed an outside chance at a possible title run, with a stand out performance at Spain where he was hands down the fastest man on track despite finishing second, until a serious accident broke both of his legs. Despite scoring a point on his return, the French driver and French team had missed their chance, and Panis only scored two more points over his remaining two seasons with the team.
Ligier, Jacques Laffite, Olivier Panis and Prost Racing really sum up the “could have but never did” side of Formula One, forever sharing steps with the Pironis, Mosses and Villeneuves of the men who never quite won a title despite all the talent in the world. Not a bad place to be, but the man who finished second always wishes he had finished first.
Procar buddies :)
Nice bunch of lads there, I’m sure they’ll go far. I reckon one guy will become a GPS business magnate, one will become a jeweller, and the guy on the right I reckon will have some kind of presidential career.