27 September 2016

27: Patrick Tambay, The Ferrari Years

EVRO Publishing’s new book shines new light on one of motor racing’s most turbulent periods- the Formula 1 seasons of 1982 and 1983. It tells the story of Patrick Tambay, the highly talented French racing driver, who found himself somewhat unwittingly at the centre of events during this difficult time.

The book is written by Massimo Burbi, who contacted Tambay through a fan website. Burbi had been first enthralled by the magic of F1 by Tambay’s victory at Imola in 1983 when the future author was eight years-old. Tambay gave his full cooperation to the book, and his input has created a superb record of the era.

The book centres on Tambay’s two seasons at Ferrari, when he was recruited to fill the void left by the death of his friend Gilles Villeneuve at Zolder, early in the 1982 season. In many ways, Tambay was an unlikely recruit, having resigned from Formula 1 in disgust at the first race of the season following the drivers’ strike at the South African Grand Prix. But he had a reputation for getting the best out of cars, especially when under the most pressure. Enzo Ferrari, who had lost out on signing him a few years previously, decided it was Tambay who could best partner Didier Pironi, then the championship leader.

But when Pironi himself was very seriously injured at Hockenheim, Tambay found himself as the only driver for the Scuderia. Tambay more than rose to the challenge- winning the race and cementing the support of the Tifosi behind him.

But more challenges were to follow. Despite a superb second at Monza, Tambay was hit by an injury caused by- of all things- a botched massage. That this put him out of contention for the World Championship is an astonishing fact- by the end of the season he had started only six of the 16 grands prix, but still had managed to amass 25 points. The following year’s Ferrari lost out somewhat in performance, but still Tambay achieved remarkable results, including the emotional win at Imola that inspired Burbi.

The book itself is a superb record of F1 in the early 1980s. Tambay’s recollections shed light on the last days of the Enzo Ferrari era, give an insight into the negotiations that took place between drivers and teams, and give a strong indication of his opinions about the whirlwind of events in which he found himself. Moreover, the books gives an insight into Tambay’s character, his emotions and the principles that he holds dear. It is superbly illustrated throughout, and is a very easy read- all in all, an excellent addition to any classic motoring enthusiast’s bookshelf.

27: Patrick Tambay, the Ferrari Years, ISBN: 978-1-910505-12-0, is published by EVRO and available at this link: Evro Publishing

Hagerty Editor John Mayhead was fortunate enough to interview Patrick Tambay and talk about this emotional time in his racing career. Subscribe to the Hagerty Classic Cars newsletter to read his interview and other articles.

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