Thierry Boutsen

Full Name:
Thierry Marc Boutsen
Born:
13th July 1957 (Age 61)
Brussels
Nationality:
Belgian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Thierry Boutsen enjoyed a 163-race Formula 1 career during which he won three times. Promising in the junior categories, this unassuming Belgian perhaps lacked the assertiveness or self-belief required to be more than the occasional star.

Championship challenger during his formative years

He abandoned University studies in engineering to race in 1977 and Boutsen soon attracted the attention of Jacky Ickx. Winner of the 1978 Benelux Formula Ford 1600 Championship with a Crosslé, it was his form in European Formula 3 that suggested Belgium had a new star. He impressed in the final race of 1979 and his works Martini MK31-Toyota dominated the early stages of the 1980 championship. But Boutsen suffered as a tyre war engulfed the series and he lost the title to Michele Alboreto at the final round.

Boutsen graduated to Formula 2 in 1981 and immediately challenged for the title. His works March 812-BMW won twice but he was ultimately beaten by Geoff Lees and Ralt-Honda at the penultimate round. Also part of the WM-Peugeot line-up for that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, he crashed on the Mulsanne Straight at about 220mph. Boutsen emerged unscathed but two marshals were seriously injured.

With continued backing from Marlboro, Boutsen switched to the ambitious new Spirit-Honda team for the 1982 F2 season. He won three times (including an impressive repeat victory on the Nürburgring Nordschleife) but he was only third in the standings as March team-mates Corrado Fabi and Johnny Cecotto disputed the title.

Formula 1 with Arrows and Benetton

Boutsen began 1983 in sports cars – winning at Monza in a Joest Racing Porsche 956 – but he replaced Chico Serra at Arrows from the Belgian Grand Prix. Three times a points scorer in 1984, he finished second in the 1985 San Marino GP at Imola.

After four seasons with the Milton Keynes-based outfit, Boutsen joined Benetton for 1987. It was an impressive campaign that culminated in third position in the Australian GP. His five podium finishes gave Boutsen fourth place in the 1988 World Championship – the leading normally aspirated runner in the final season of the turbocharged era.

Grand Prix winner for Williams

The Belgian joined Williams for 1989 as the team entered into a new partnership with Renault. He starred in the wet to score breakthrough victories in Canada and Australia. He qualified on pole position for the 1990 Hungarian GP and drove a defensive race to hold off a train of quicker cars and register his third GP victory. But, he was released when Nigel Mansell became available for 1991.

Two seasons with Ligier yielded just one top-six finish when fifth in the 1992 Australian GP. Without a drive at the start of 1993, Boutsen replaced Jordan’s Ivan Capelli after two races. It proved a disappointing final campaign and he too was eased out of the team after the Belgian GP.

Life after Formula 1

He later raced in both sports cars and GTs and he came close at Le Mans. Second in the 1993 and 1996 races for Peugeot and Porsche respectively, his Toyota GT-One led with 80 minutes to go in 1998 only to suffer gearbox failure.

Boutsen retired from racing after breaking his vertebrae during the following year’s race. He now runs Boutsen Aviation – the Monte Carlo-based company he founded in 1996 to buy and sell private corporate aircraft – and teams in both sports cars and the junior formulae.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1997 FIA GT Championship 15th 18
1996 Global Endurance GT Championship
Porsche
2 2 2 2 0
1993 F1 World Championship
Sasol Jordan
10 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1992 F1 World Championship
Ligier Gitanes Blondes
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
14th 2
1991 F1 World Championship
Equipe Ligier Gitanes
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1990 F1 World Championship
Canon Williams Team
16 1 3 1
7% win rate
6th 34
1989 F1 World Championship
Canon Williams Team
16 0 5 2
13% win rate
5th 37
1988 F1 World Championship
Benetton Formula
16 0 5 0
0% win rate
4th 27
1987 F1 World Championship
Benetton Formula
16 0 1 0
0% win rate
8th 16
1987 World Touring Car Championship
Eggenberger Motorsport
1 1 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 F1 World Championship
Barclay Arrows BMW
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Brun Motorsport
7 2 2 1 9th 41
1985 IMSA Camel GT Championship
Preston Henn
1 0 1 1 0
1985 F1 World Championship
Barclay Arrows BMW
16 0 1 0
0% win rate
11th 11
1985 World Endurance Championship
Brun Motorsport
5 0 1 0 31st 13
1984 F1 World Championship
Barclay Nordica Arrows BMW
15 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
14th 5
1984 World Endurance Championship
John Fitzpatrick Racing
7 1 2 0 30th 18
1983 F1 World Championship
Arrows Racing Team
10 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1983 World Endurance Championship
Jean Rondeau
Yoshiho Matsuda
Joest Racing
GTi Engineering
6 0 2 1 6th 44
1982 European F2 Championship
Marlboro Team Spirit
13 3 6 3
24% win rate
3rd 50 (51)
1982 World Endurance Championship
Jean Rondeau
2 0 0 0 0
1981 European F2 Championship
Marlboro Racing for Zolder
12 5 5 2
17% win rate
2nd 37
1981 World Endurance Championship
WM AEREM
1 0 0 0 0
1980 European F3 Championship
Marlboro Racing For Zolder and Marantz
14 3 6 3
22% win rate
2nd 54
1979 European F3 Championship
Roger Heavens Racing
10 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
13th 6