Alan Jones

Alan Jones

2/11/1946

Jones was a straight-talking, iron-willed, hard-driving Australian, who fought his way to the top of F1, where he defended his territory with ruthless determination and large doses of intimidation.

Alan Jones was born in Melbourne, Australia and attended Xavier College. His father Stan Jones was one of Australia's top racers who in the mid-1950s was good enough to be offered a test with both BRM and Ferrari. He declined them in order to stay home and look after his business and his family.

Alan raced karts as a teenager and, after leaving school, went to work at his father's Holden dealership. He began racing a Mini and an old Cooper that his father had owned.

Stan could not afford to fund his son's racing and so in 1967 he left for Europe to make a name for himself but it took the best part of 6 years before he made any impression.

That was in 1973 when he finally began to score some good results driving a GRD Formula 3 car. Harry Stiller deceided that the Australian had a future and funded a Formula Atlantic for Jones to drive in 1974.

In 1975 Stller bough an old Hesketh F1 and Jones made his F1 debut in the non-championship International Trophy, finishing seventh. Four World Championship races later the team closed down.

He then picked up a drive for Graham Hill's Embassy Hill team, as a replacement for the injured Rolf Stommelen, with a best finish of 5th at Hockenheim, earning him his first points.

When Stommelen returned to action Jones had to make do with Formula 5000 and the death of Graham Hill that winter and the closure of the Hill team left him high and dry. Then John Surtees offered himhis first full time drive. Jones showed well in the Durex sponsored car during 1976, collecting seven points in the World Championship. His best finish was a 4th in Japan, but he did not get on with Surtees and left the team at the end of the year and signed to drive for Teddy Yip in America where Yip was running a team in Formula 5000 team and USAC races.

It was while in America that the Shadow team named he as a replacement for Tom Pryce, who had been killed in a freak accident in South Africa. He made the most of the opportunity and won at Österreichring for his maiden victory, finishing 7th in the championship.

That was enough to convince Frank Williams that Jones was the man he needed for the newly-formed Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1978. It was a risk for Jones but Williams had big ambitions and money from Saudia Airlines. The FW06 was a useful car and Jones scored on several occasions including a  a second place finish at Watkins Glen. That year he also raced in CanAm, winning the title with a Jim Hall Lola.

In 1979 driving the Williams FW07, he won 4 out of 5 races near the end of the season to finish 3rd in the championship.

Jones won 5 races in 1980 (one of which was later declared non-championship) and had a car that consistently gave him podium finishes, withn 10 during the year. At the end of the season he had beat Nelson Piquet by 13 points and became Australia's first World Champion since Sir Jack Brabham.

He was in with a good chance of retaining his title in 1981, but a very competetive relationship with Reutemann led to intense rivalry that possibly cost both drivers a crack at the championship. Jones finished 4 points behind Piquet, the Champion, and 3 behind Reutemann. He ended the season with a win in Las Vegas and announced his retirement.

He came out of retirement in 1983 for a one-off drive with Arrows and two years later in 1985, joined Team Haas to drive the Beatrice F1 car with Patrick Tambay joining in a second car for 1986.

A works Ford-Cosworth turbocharged engine was promised, but did not materialise until 1986 and Hart 415T four cylinder turbo engines were used. In the era of special qualifying tyres that were only good for one quick lap, Jones was heard to remark that they were the only team whose qualifying tyres lasted longer than their qualifying engines! The whole team folded at the end of 1986 with the assets (including the factory) being sold to Bernie Ecclestone.

Jones left F1 for good, racing touring cars for a while before becoming a TV commentator.

Jones has since become involved in the Australian franchise of the A1 Grand Prix as Team Director. He attempted to race in the Grand Prix Masters World Series at Kyalami in November 2005 but had to pull out before qualifying due to neck pains.


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