Patrick Tambay, a two-time race winner in Formula 1 who also made his mark in North American racing by winning a pair of Can-Am championships, has died at the age of 73, his family announced Sunday. Tambay had been battling Parkinson’s disease.
Frenchman Tambay drove for nine seasons in F1, starting with partial seasons for the Surtees and Theodore teams while also racing for Carl Haas in Can-Am in 1977 and 1980 — where he won the championship both times — as well as Formula 2. He secured his greatest F1 success with Ferrari, joining the Scuderia in 1982 after Gilles Villeneuve was killed in an accident at Zolder. The French-Canadian ace had been a close friend of Tambay, naming him godfather to his son Jacques, who would go on to become a world champion F1 driver in his own right.
Tambay scored victories in the 1982 German and 1983 San Marino Grands Prix with Ferrari, also claiming four poles in ’83, before moving to Renault for the ’84 season. He scored one more pole position but no more wins in two seasons with Renault and, after reuniting with Haas for a final F1 campaign with its Lola team in 1986, Tambay retired from F1.
Following a brief stint running his own sports promotion agency, Tambay returned to racing in sports cars with Jaguar in 1989, finishing fourth at Le Mans that year. He went on to make his mark at the Dakar Rally, too, taking a couple of podium finishes in the marathon event.
After retiring from competition, Tambay became as a TV commentator for French television and also went into politics, serving as the deputy mayor of Le Cannet, a suburb of Cannes. He also was a frequent visitor at historic racing events, driving in Grand Prix Masters events while also overseeing the racing efforts of his son Adrien, who competed in the DTM series.