OCTOBER 8, 2009

Jean Sage

Jean Sage, the former sporting director of the Renault F1 team for many years, has died at the age of 68 in Annecy, France.

Sage came from a wealthy background and was a passionate Ferrari fan and collector. He began his competition career at the age of 20 when he co-drove a Ferrari 250GT with veteran Andre Simon on the Mont Blanc Rally. He went on to co-drive with Jean-Pierre Hanrioud and Gerard Larrousse while also pursuing his own career in Formula 3 in the course of the 1960s.

In 1973 he, Larrousse and Swiss Mercedes dealer Paul Archambeaud established a team which became known as Ecurie Elf-Switzerland. This started out in sports cars but then switched to Formula 2 and ran Jean-Pierre Jabouille to the European title in 1976 in the Jabouille 2J-Renault, a car derived from the Elf 2, which in turn started out life as the Alpine A367 in 1972.

That year Larrousse was appointed as head of the Renault competition department and at the start of 1977 he hired Sage to be the sporting director of the planned Renault F1 team, with Jabouille as the driver. The team made its F1 debut at the British GP that year and Sage oversaw the expansion of the team, its first victory in 1979 and its challenge for the World Championship in the years that followed with Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux. He stayed with Renault after the F1 team was closed down in 1985 and remained until Renault quit F1 completely at the end of 1987. He remained close to racing, moving to Charles Pozzi's Ferrari France and running a team of Ferrari F40s in the IMSA GT Series in 1989 and 1990 for a variety of drivers including Jabouille, Jean Alesi and Jean-Louis Schlesser. A passionate Ferrari collector and fan he remained active in historic events.