Jean-Pierre Jarier


Record updated 10-Mar-08

Jean-Pierre raced in 134 GPs between 1973 to 1983 without a win. He was at the top of his game in with Shadows in the mid 70s and almost won the Brazilian Grand prix in 1975 but a faulty fuel gauge caused his retirement.

Jean-Pierre Jarier

Jarier had his few fleeting moments in Grand Prix racing when nobody could live with him, but this inconsistent Frenchman ultimately flattered to deceive and the once bright promise soon faded.

After impressing in saloons and Formula France, Jean-Pierre graduated to the highly competitive French F3 series, finishing third in the championship in 1970 with a Tecno before making an assault on the European Formula 2 championship in 1971. He took the Shell Arnold team's March to a couple of third-place finishes at Albi and Vallelunga, and had his first taste of Grand Prix racing when the team hired the ex-Hubert Hahne March 701 for the Italian GP, bringing the car home in a steady 12th place.

Unfortunately his career took a step backwards the following year when the Shell Arnold team ran out of funds just after Jarier had taken third place at Monza in the Lottery GP. The wealthy Jose Dolhem took over the ride, so it was back to the harum-scarum world of Formula 5, but then came his big break. Signed to lead the March Formula 2 team, Jean-Pierre also found himself promoted to Formula 1 after Chris Amon was sensationally dismissed before the start of the 1973 season. In Grands Prix he was not surprisingly a little overwhelmed but was nevertheless unlucky not to score the occasional point here and there, but in Formula 2 it was a different story as he stormed to the European championship with eight victories in 13 rounds.

Now in demand, Jarier signed for Shadow in 1974 as number two to Peter Revson, but the American was soon tragically killed at Kyalami, leaving the burden of leading the team on the young Frenchman's shoulders. He responded with much courage, taking third place in the International Trophy and then the Monaco GP. He was also a key member of the Matra sports car team that year, sharing the winning car at Spa (with Ickx), the Nurburgring, Watkins Glen, Paul Ricard and Brands Hatch (all with Beltoise).

The following season started sensationally for Jarier. On pole in Argentina, he was unlucky to strip his clutch, and was then leading in Brazil by the proverbial country mile until a metering unit failed. This dominance was not to last, however, and his season disintegrated in a series of spins and crashes while team-mate Tom Pryce was busy asserting himself. Jarier gathered his resources for 1976. In the Brazilian GP, he lay a splendid second and was closing on the leader, Lauda, when he unluckily crashed out on James Hunt's oil. Things were never the same after that as the moody Frenchman became increasingly disenchanted with life at Shadow, who dropped him at the end of the season.

He hoped for a drive at Ligier in 1977, but in the event found himself in the ATS team running the Penske. A sixth place on his debut boded well, but the car was never really more than a midfield runner and Jarier failed to score any further points. By the end of the season he was briefly back at Shadow, and then had a one-off outing with Ligier. Meanwhile Alfa Romeo, remembering his superb sports car displays with Matra, had invited Jean-Pierre to drive their T33 cars at Dijon and Paul Ricard, and he won both races with Merzario, while he also raced a Mirage-Renault at Le Mans that year, taking second place with Vern Schuppan.

Jarier was back with ATS in 1978, but achieved little, quitting the team in mid-season. However, his whole career was suddenly revived at the end of the year when he took over the Lotus seat left vacant by the death of Ronnie Peterson. At Watkins Glen he set fastest lap and was in third place until he ran out of fuel near the end, and then in Montreal 'Jumper' put the Lotus on pole and fairly streaked away from the field until a small oil leak in a brake pipe ended his dominance. Ken Tyrrell, looking for a replacement for the Ligier-bound Depailler, gave Jarier the chance to build on his swiftly restored credibility. His two seasons with the team yielded ten points-scoring finishes, but the cars were not world beaters nor did Jarier seem totally involved once he realised there was nothing to aim for.

Early in 1981 he deputised for the still injury-troubled Jabouille at Ligier, before taking the only drive available at Osella. He stayed on for 1982, but apart from a splendid fourth place for the little team at Imola he lost interest badly as the year wore on. He was in the last-chance saloon the following season; he had finally secured a place in the Ligier line-up, but unfortunately the car was not quite the competitive proposition he had dreamed of racing in previous years. On the one occasion a victory was possible, Jarier made a hash of things, running into the back of Rosberg at Long Beach when well placed.

After a decade as a Grand Prix driver, he faced the fact that he was no longer in demand and quietly slipped out of single-seater racing, contenting himself in the French Supertourisme series for many years. In the early nineties 'Jumper' - now somewhat plumper - acquitted himself nobly in the Global GT series: driving a Porsche 911SR, he won rounds at Paul Ricard and Suzuka (with Wollek and Pareja) in 1994, and in 1995 he took second place in a Porsche GTZ at both Jerez and Paul Ricard.

Despite his 'advancing' years, Jarier still has few peers in his class of GT racing. He was French GT champion for the first time in 1998 and, again driving one of his beloved Porsche 911s, repeated the feat in 1999.

(c) 'Who is Who' by Steve Small, 2000