Jean-Pierre Jarier

Born in the Paris suburbs soon after World War II, Jean-Pierre Jarier came from a family which ran a small hotel. After school he was studying economics when he discovered the Montlhery racing circuit in the southern suburbs of Paris and he started racing motorcycles soon afterwards.

At 21, by promising to give up bike racing, he managed to convince his mother to sell her Peugeot road car in order to buy him a Renault 8 Gordini with which to race. The Renault 8 Gordini was the car which enabled many young Frenchmen to discover motor racing cheaply and realise their talent before moving on to the more expensive single seaters. Amongst those racing were Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Jean-Luc Therier and Michel Leclere. Jarier duly followed that route and by 1971 he has moved up to Formula 2 with the Shell Arnold team. At Crystal Palace he made his first major impact by finishing second in a heat of the London Trophy. Later in the year he had a couple of third places at Albi and Vallelunga and did a couple of F1 races in private Marches, including his F1 debut at Monza with the Shell Arnold team.

In 1972 money was short and he did only a handful of F2 races. When he did race he was quick and in 1973 he was hired by the March-BMW team and won the F2 title in dominant fashion. That year he raced in F1 with March when cars were available but then joined Shadow in 1974. He finished third in Monaco and fifth in Sweden and the following year was leading the Brazilian GP until the car broke down. Reliability was a disaster that year, the speed of the car was wasted and in 1976 Shadow was in decline following the withdrawal of UOP.

In 1977 he switched to the new ATS team but the cars were unreliable again and after another half season with the team he departed. Soon afterwards Ronnie Peterson was killed and Jarier landed the second JPS Lotus drive for the last two races of the season. He took pole position in Canada and led the race before being forced to retire with an oil leak. It was enough to earn him a two-year deal at Tyrrell during which he managed to collect a couple of third places.

In 1981 he started the season with Ligier, standing in for the injured Jean-Pierre Jabouille and then went to Osella where he stayed in 1982, finishing fourth in the famous non-FOCA race at Imola. His last chance came in 1983 at Ligier but the car was not up to the job and he faded from the F1 scene after 10 years and more than 136 races without a win.

He went on racing in the French Touring Car Championship until the end of the 1980s and then switched to Porsches for 10 years although in recently he has competed in the FIA GT series with a Chrysler Viper. Although perhaps unlucky in F1, Jarier made up for it in December 1994 when he walked unscathed from a helicopter accident in the south west of France.