Olivier Grouillard

Born:
2nd September 1958 (Age 61)
Fenouillet, Midi-Pyrenees
Nationality:
French
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Olivier Grouillard was a Formula 1 driver for four seasons during which time he scored just one point. A tough and at times overly aggressive competitor, his on track manners at times left a lot to be desired.

Early racing career

There was natural speed – he won the 1981 Volant Elf and was fourth in the 1982 French Formula Renault Championship. Grouillard then graduated to French Formula 3 with Marlboro backing and the crack ORECA team. Fourth once more that season as team-mate Michel Ferté won the title, he led the team to the F3 title again in 1984 by narrowly beating Frédéric Delavallade with a Martini MK42-Alfa Romeo.

Team and driver graduated to Formula 3000 for its inaugural season in 1985 and Grouillard remained in the category for four seasons. The first three of which (two with ORECA March-Cosworths and a limited 1986 campaign with Markus Hotz’s Lola T86/50-Cosworth) yielded a best result of four fourth place finishes.

Grouillard’s subsequent 1988 move to the new GDBA team transformed him into a championship contender. His Lola T88/50-Cosworth qualified on pole position three times and won twice as Grouillard finished as runner-up behind Roberto Moreno.

Formula 1 with Ligier and Osella

Buoyed by success at last, he joined Ligier for the 1989 F1 World Championship as team-mate to René Arnoux. He generally out-qualified the veteran and finished sixth in his home race. However, his relationship with the autocratic Guy Ligier grew increasingly strained.

He moved to Osella for 1990 and qualified an outstanding eighth for the opening race in Phoenix – the best grid position for the team. It proved to be false promise and two seasons with the team (it was sold and renamed Fondmetal for 1991) were littered with failures to qualify and friction between driver and new owner Gabriele Rumi.

Formula 1 finale with Tyrrell

Grouillard was fired before the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix and again failed to pre-qualify for that race in a one-off with the impoverished AGS concern. He joined Tyrrell for 1992 and at least qualified for every race. But it was a season of accidents and impeding others with eighth at Imola one of only four finishes. Grouillard’s F1 career was over.

Subsequent career in Champ Cars and endurance racing

He drove Indy Regency Racing’s year-old Lola-Chevrolet without success in Champ Cars during 1993 in what was his last single-seater campaign. He turned to endurance racing and the FIA GT Championship. He joined Dave Price Racing as Andy Wallace’s co-driver for 18 months in 1995 and 1996 and their Harrod’s McLaren F1-GTR-BMW won four races during that time.

Fifth in the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours for Giroix Racing and sixth a year later with DPR, his co-drivers for the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hours ensured press coverage. He shared a Courage C36-Porsche with Mario and Michael Andretti but the 1978 World Champion crashed at Tertre Rouge.

The 2000 Le Mans 24 Hours was Grouillard’s last major race and he ended on a relative high. The Pescarolo Sport Courage C52-Peugeot he shared with Sébastien Bourdais and Emmanuel Clérico finished in fourth position.