French Formula 3 Champion in 1981, he drove for AGS in F2 before graduating to F1 with Ligier and then Tyrrell. He rejoined AGS, now in F1, in 1988 but he was left paralysed after a pre-season testing accident at Rio de Janeiro in 1989.
Philippe Streiff, born in La Tronche, France, came into motor racing quite late. He won the Volant Motul competition at the Nogaro racing school at the end of 1977, when he was already 22 years old.
He started racing in Formula Renault in 1978 and won first time out in the support race for the French GP at Paul Ricard in July. Needing to move quickly if he was to achieve his goal of Formula 1 he entered the European Formula 3 Championship in 1979 with a privately entered Martini-Renault. Switching to Toyota power in 1980 gave him the boost he needed, beating the Martini factory team at Zolder. Streiff stayed in Formula 3 for 1981 but in the French Championship winning the title in an Ecurie Motul Nogaro Martini-Alfa Romeo.
In 1982 he stepped up to Formula 2 with his Motul sponsorship, joining AGS. Over the next three seasons he was a consistent frontrunner though he only took one win in his very last Formula 2 race in the wet at Brands Hatch in 1984.
In 1984 he also made his F1 debut with a third works Renault at Estoril. For 1985 he drove for AGS in Formula 3000 got the call from Ligier to replace Andrea de Cesaris.
In 1986 he joined Tyrrell thanks in part to support from Renault. However Tyrrell switched to Ford engines in 1987 but Streiff stayed on. Overshadowed by Jonathan Palmer and with little hope of a top drive, he returned to AGS, now in F1, and helped them build the team into a reasonable operation.
In pre-season testing for the 1989 season he crashed heavily in Rio de Janeiro and suffered neck injuries, which left him a quadriplegic, with the quality of the care he received in the aftermath having been called into question.
During his F1 career he scored a total of 11 championship points.
Although constant re-education work has reduced the effects of the handicap, Streiff remains paralysed from the waist down although this has not stopped him developing a successful business empire. He was the organiser of the annual Elf Kart Masters at Bercy and recently opened Streiff Kart, a new permanent karting centre in the north of Paris. He runs a company, which is converting vehicles for handicapped users and recently became the French importer for Gillet sports cars, which are built in a factory in Namur, Belgium.