Patrick André Eugène Joseph Depailler (der-PIE-yay; born 9 August 1944 – died 1 August 1980) was a French racing driver who most notably drove for Tyrrell in Formula One. In addition to racing Formula One, he also participated in both Formula Two and sports car racing.
He spent most of his career racing for Tyrrell, but left the team after the 1978 season. He then joined the Ligier team, until he was badly injured in a hang-gliding accident halfway through the season.
Nearly a year after his accident he entered Formula One again with the new Alfa Romeo team. He was still in pain and was unable to complete any races with the team because of various mechanical failures.
He was later killed in an accident during pre-race testing for the 1980 German Grand Prix.
Formula One Career
In the 1972 season, Depailler was given a chance to drive at his home Grand Prix and the United States Grand Prix, alongside François Cevert and Jackie Stewart at Tyrrell. He did not classify in the French Grand Prix, but finished a respectable 7th position at Watkins Glen.
Depailler was going to be offered the third Tyrrell drive in Canada and the United States, but a motorcycling accident meant that he was unable to drive in either race.
After the death of Tyrrell driver François Cevert and the retirement of Jackie Stewart, the team invited Depailler back to the team for a full time position alongside Jody Scheckter.
Depailler gained the first pole position of his Formula One career at his 9th race at the 1974 Swedish Grand Prix. His would later place second, behind his teammate during the race. Depailler wound up ninth in the championship.
In 1975, Depailler was again alongside Scheckter. it was predicted early in the season that Depailler had terrible odds of winning the championship (25:1).
He had an average season, his highest finish being 3rd position at the South African Grand Prix. He managed to complete all but three races in the calendar, again coming in ninth in the championship.
While qualifying for the final race of the season at the United States Grand Prix, Depailler suffered a big accident in which his car was sent into the catch fence. Luckily, he escaped uninjured.
Depailler had a rocket start to the season after finishing 2nd in the first race of the season at the Brazilian Grand Prix. He made history as the first driver of a six-wheeled car in Formula One, piloting a Tyrrell P34 in the Spanish Grand Prix.
He finished 4th in the drivers' championship, which would be the best season of his career.
Depailler's teammate Scheckter left the team after the end of the previous season. His new teammate at Tyrrell was Ronnie Peterson.
Depailler had a rough start to the season after he was hospitalized for a leg injury that he had obtained from an accident during the Brazilian Grand Prix. It was not too severe and he managed to make it back for the next race.
Later in the season, Depailler was promoted to the number one driver, after his new teammate Ronnie Peterson left the team for a contract with Lotus. Despite this, Depailler still had an average season, placing 9th in the drivers' championship.
During the 1978 season, Depailler would only manage to complete half of his races and would retire from the other half.
One of the biggest moments of his career came in the 1978 Monaco Grand Prix when he won the first Grand Prix of his Formula One career, after leading 38 out of the 75 laps. This would then aid him to a 5th place in the drivers' championship.
His 1979 season ended when he was involved in a hang-gliding accident near his home-town. He broken both his legs and was hospitalized with more than a half of a season to complete. He required multiple operations on his legs and was unable to complete the season.
By the end of the season, it was announced that Depailler had lost his place with the Ligier team. The hang gliding violated the terms of the contract.
He was still on the road to recovery from his hang-gliding accident the previous year. Despite being in pain, Depailler still competed in the season races. He was unsuccessful in finishing any races though, because of various mechanical issues.
Depailler was killed during an unofficial test session for the 1980 German Grand Prix. He suffered a suspension failure which sent his car into the barrier. The car was overturned and jumped over the barrier. Depailler received fatal head injuries as a result.
This tragedy occurred just 8 days prior to his 36th birthday.
Depailler's helmet was blue. It contained a white straight line that circled the helmet and a thinner, red line that was raised where the ears would be. This too circled around the helmet. Many described the pattern as a hairline.
Depailler is portrayed by actor Daniel Christodolou in the 2013 movie, Rush.
Formula One Statistical Overview
Formula One Record
|Year||Entrant||Team||WDC Points||WDC Pos.||Report|
|1972||Elf Team Tyrrell||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||NC||0||Report|
|1973||did not compete|
|1974||Elf Team Tyrrell||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||9th||14||Report|
|1975||Elf Team Tyrrell||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||9th||12||Report|
|1976||Elf Team Tyrrell||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||4th||39||Report|
|1977||Elf Team Tyrrell||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||9th||20||Report|
|1978||Elf Team Tyrrell||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||5th||34||Report|
|1979||Ligier Gitanes||Ligier-Ford Cosworth||6th||20||Report|
|1980||Marlboro Team Alfa Romeo||Alfa Romeo||NC||0||Report|
|Distance Raced||21297 km (13233 mi)|
|Distance Led||614 km (382 mi)|
|Win Number||Grand Prix|
|1||1978 Monaco Grand Prix|
|2||1979 Spanish Grand Prix|
|Complete Formula One Results|
|1973||did not compete|
|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|
|v·d·e||Nominate this page for Featured Article|
- Race stopped after 29/75 Laps. Half points awarded
- Race stopped after 29/54 Laps. Half points awarded