An unmatchable optimist, the missed layer
Laffite should have followed in his father’s footsteps, but he chose to follow those of his childhood friend, Jeanne-Pierre Jabouille, instead. In 1968, he attended the Magny Cours racing driving school. Tico Martini noticed him behind the Shell wheel and offered him the opportunity to race in F3. In ’73, he established himself as the fastest French driver and as one of the best European drivers overall, after several victories he became the F3 French Champion.
He made his debut in 1974 in F1 with Frank Williams’ Iso Marlboro. In ’72 he triumphed in F2, driving the single-seater car with the Elf and Martini colours, he dominated the championship from the start to the end and was confirmed as the European champion.
He raced and won three races in the sports prototype category, with Merzario, driving the 3 litres Alfa Romeo, including the 1000km at the Nürburgring. In 1976, he was nominated as the Ligier-Matra first F1 driver. On 19th July 1977, the joy for his victory in Anderstorp, with drapeau français car. Laffite moved to the UK to race with Williams in ’83 and ’84, but his results weren’t thrilling. He went back to the Ligier in 1958, and, at forty-two years old, he graced three podiums. 1986 also started well, with two podiums, when he was involved in an accident at Brands Hatch, where he was severely injured. He ended his F1 driver career and then went on as a commentator, with his helmet always handy to get on track!