Riccardo Patrese

Full Name:
Riccardo Gabriele Patrese
Born:
17th April 1954 (Age 65)
Padua, Veneto
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

From an impetuous youth regarded as dangerous by fellow drivers to a much respected and popular senior professional. The extremes of Riccardo Patrese’s reputation at each end of his Formula 1 career illustrate how much the Italian matured during his long stay at the sport’s pinnacle.

Early racing career

Patrese made his motor racing debut in 1975 amid the hype reserved for the reigning karting world champion. Fast and forceful on the track, he was overly brash off it although results backed up his confidence.

Second behind Bruno Giacomelli in that year’s Formula Italia Championship, he graduated to Formula 3 in 1976 with Pino Trivellato’s Chevron B34-Toyota. He won both the European and Italian titles although the former was decided in controversial circumstances. Rival Conny Andersson was harshly adjudged to have jumped the start of the final round at Vallelunga and the resulting penalty handed Patrese the championship.

Formula 1 with Shadow and Arrows

Patrese entered Formula 2 with Trivellato’s Chevron-BMW in 1977. Third at Hockenheim and on pole position at the Nürburgring, he made his Grand Prix debut for Shadow at Monaco and continued racing in both series. Second at Mugello, Rouen and Nogaro in F2, his Shadow DN8-Ford finished sixth in the Japanese GP to cap a promising season.

Now a man in demand, he signed as Gunnar Nilsson’s Arrows team-mate for 1978 – the team formed by a disaffected group of Shadow directors. However the Swede never raced due to cancer and Patrese responded to the extra responsibility of being the new team’s senior driver by leading its second GP in South Africa.

But impressive results such as second in Sweden contrasted with the controversy that enveloped the team. A London court decreed the original Arrows FA1-Ford was designed using Shadow intellectual property. In addition, there was growing criticism of Patrese’s uncompromising, and to some, dangerous driving.

He was made the scapegoat by some of his peers when Ronnie Peterson was killed at Monza and was banned from the United States GP as a consequence. Continuing with Arrows, second in the 1980 Long Beach GP was a rare F1 highlight as the newcomers struggled to build on initial promise. In contrast, Patrese enjoyed increasing success in sports cars and he won three times that year with a works Lancia Beta Monte Carlo.

New rules banning sliding "skirts" for the 1981 F1 season had an unexpected beneficiary – Patrese’s Arrows A3-Ford qualifying on pole position for the opening round at Long Beach. Third in Brazil and second at Imola, the Italian’s promising form came to a halt at Zolder. He stalled on the grid and the race started with mechanic Dave Luckett still trying to restart the car. Unsighted team-mate Siegfried Stohr crashed into the back of the stationary machine – injuring their colleague and eliminating both cars.

Success in Formula 1 and sports cars

Patrese continued with Lancia in endurance racing and moved to Brabham for the 1982 season in what was his first season with a top GP team. He challenged Jacky Ickx for the World Sportscar Championship – just falling short at the final round – and scored a bizarre maiden GP victory at Monaco. All appeared lost when he spun out of the lead on the greasy track with two laps remaining. However, chaos then ensued. Didier Pironi stopped with electrical failure, Derek Daly crashed and Andrea de Cesaris ran out of fuel so a slightly embarrassed Patrese took victory on the last lap.

However, Patrese made too many mistakes and lacked consistency during his two seasons with Brabham. The most costly error was in the 1983 San Marino GP where he lost a certain victory by crashing moments after taking the lead. However, he completed a largely disappointing campaign by winning the South African GP after team-mate Nelson Piquet slowed as he cautiously clinched the title.

Alfa Romeo and return to Brabham

The next two seasons with Alfa Romeo only confirmed the Italian team’s organisational shortcomings and his return to Brabham in 1986 was marred by the death of team-mate Elio de Angelis while trying to sort the difficult low-line Brabham BT55-BMW.

The 1987 season was not much better so it was a great surprise when Patrese was announced as Nigel Mansell’s Williams team-mate for 1988. He actually made his debut in the final race of 1987 – replacing the injured Englishman in Australia – and it was a move that made Patrese’s career.

Championship runner-up for Williams

Williams lost its Honda engine deal but it had Renault power from 1989. Patrese scored a run of podium finishes that included second in Mexico, United States, Canada and Japan as he finished third in the world championship. Victory in the 1990 San Marino GP confirmed a new maturity. He remained for 1991 as Mansell returned to lead the team and exploit the new class-of-the-field Williams FW14-Renault.

The car was obviously fast but suffered teething problems that year although Patrese still scored a fine victory in Mexico. There were no such troubles in 1992 and Williams dominated. Mansell was champion at last after a record-breaking season while Patrese scored nine podiums, won in Japan and finished as runner-up in the world championship.

Formula 1 finale with Benetton

Intent on leading a team and well rewarded by the move, Patrese joined Benetton in 1993 for what proved to be his last year in F1. Outpaced and outscored by the sensational Michael Schumacher, he retired from racing at the end of the season having started a then record 256 GPs.

His 1991 form for Williams, when he briefly eclipsed Mansell, and finishing as runner-up a year later remain fresher memories of a likable character than the controversy that surrounded his early career.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2006 Grand Prix Masters
Grand Prix Masters
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
2005 Grand Prix Masters
Grand Prix Masters
1 0 1 0
0% win rate
0
1993 F1 World Championship
Camel Benetton Ford
16 0 2 0
0% win rate
5th 20
1992 F1 World Championship
Canon Williams Team
16 1 9 1
7% win rate
2nd 56
1991 F1 World Championship
Canon Williams Team
16 4 8 2
13% win rate
3rd 53
1990 F1 World Championship
Canon Williams Team
16 0 1 1
7% win rate
7th 23
1989 F1 World Championship
Canon Williams Team
16 1 6 0
0% win rate
3rd 40
1988 F1 World Championship
Canon Williams Team
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
11th 8
1987 F1 World Championship
Motor Racing Developments
Canon Williams Honda Team
16 0 1 0
0% win rate
13th 6
1987 World Touring Car Championship
CiBiEmme
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 F1 World Championship
Motor Racing Developments
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
15th 2
1985 F1 World Championship
Benetton Team Alfa Romeo
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1985 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
6 5 3 1 14th 34
1984 F1 World Championship
Benetton Team Alfa Romeo
16 0 1 0
0% win rate
13th 8
1984 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
5 2 1 1 28th 20
1983 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
5 0 1 0 18th 21
1983 F1 World Championship
Fila Sport
15 1 2 1
7% win rate
9th 13
1982 F1 World Championship
Parmalat Racing Team
15 0 3 1
7% win rate
10th 21
1982 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
8 2 5 2 2nd 87
1981 F1 World Championship
Arrows Racing Team
15 1 2 0
0% win rate
11th 10
1981 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
6 0 1 1 72nd 32.5
1980 F1 World Championship
Warsteiner Arrows Racing Team
14 0 1 0
0% win rate
9th 7
1980 World Championship of Makes
Lancia Corse
7 0 5 3 94
1980 BMW M1 Procar
BMW Motorsport
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
27th 2
1979 F1 World Championship
Warsteiner Arrows Racing Team
14 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 2
1979 World Championship of Makes
Lancia Corse
4 1 1 0 23
1978 F1 World Championship
Arrows Racing Team
14 0 1 0
0% win rate
11th 11
1978 European F2 Championship
Chevron Cars
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1977 F1 World Championship
Shadow Racing Team
9 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 1
1977 European F2 Championship
Trivellato Racing Team
13 2 5 0
0% win rate
4th 32
1976 European F3 Championship
Trivellato Racing Team
9 (1) 0 8 4
45% win rate
1st 52 (56)
1976 Italian F3 Championship 1st -