Jean-Louis Schlesser (born September 12, 1948 in Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle) is a retired French racing driver, notable for his one-off Grand Prix appearance in 1988. He is the nephew of Jo Schlesser, a Formula One driver for Honda who died in the 1968 French Grand Prix. Also a keen rally-raid driver, in 1999 and 2000, he won consecutive editions of the Paris-Dakar Rally.
Before Formula One
Schlesser's first outing was the 1983 French Grand Prix, where RAM had chosen a second driver to pair up with Eliseo Salazar, on a one-off basis. However, neither of the cars made it out of qualifying, with Schlesser in last place on the table.
With Nigel Mansell still ill with chicken pox ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Williams had to rely on the efforts of Schlesser, their test driver. It marked Schlesser's first successful qualification for a Grand Prix, and his first Grand Prix appearance for five years. It also came on the eve of his 40th birthday.
McLaren, which had not long ago clinched the Constructors' Championship, had been attempting a clean sweep of the 1988 season with victories in 15 out of 15 races, but Alain Prost's misfiring engine had forced the Frenchman to retire to the pits on lap 34, so the team had to depend on the leader of the Drivers' Championship, Ayrton Senna.
On lap 49, Senna's clash with the Frenchman caused Senna to spin and beach itself on a kerb, and the Ferraris secured a one-two finish, led by Gerhard Berger, on home soil, less than a month after Enzo Ferrari's death. The collision also prevented the McLaren team from winning all 16 races of the 1988 season.
In popular culture
He appeared in the 2000 French movie Taxi 2 as himself alongside his Paris-Dakar co-driver Henri Magne.
Formula One Statistical Overview
Formula One Record
|Year||Entrant||Team||WDC Pts.||WDC Pos.||Report|
|1983||RAM Racing Team March||RAM-Ford Cosworth||0||NC||Report|
|1988||Canon Williams Team||Williams-Judd||0||NC||Report|
|Front Row Starts||0|
|Distance Raced||284 km (176 mi)|
|Complete Formula One Results|
|3rd||DNQ||Did not qualify|
|5th||Points finish||DNPQ||Did not pre-qualify|
|14th||Non-points finish||TD||Test driver|
|Italics||Scored point(s) for Fastest Lap||DNS||Did not start|
|18th†||Classified finish (retired with >90% race distance)||NC||Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)|
|4thP||Qualified for pole position||[+] More Symbols|