F1-Fansite.com

F1 News

Didier Pironi 'The Champion that never was'

New biography tells the story of F1’s ‘Greatest enigma’

The remarkable life of ex-Ferrari F1 driver and powerboat racer Didier Pironi is the subject of a major new biography to be released this month. ‘Pironi: The Champion That Never Was’ marks the 30th anniversary of the driver’s death in a tragic powerboat accident in August 1987.

Pironi came within an ace of claiming the 1982 Formula One World Championship until a horrific accident at Germany’s Hockenheim circuit ended his career. Thereafter he spent five years trying to make an F1 comeback that would ultimately never happen. Thwarted in his ambition, the French ace turned to offshore powerboat racing.

Dieder Pironi driving the Ferrari 126

Dieder Pironi driving the Ferrari 126 in 1981

‘Undoubtedly, Didier was F1’s greatest enigma. His life was an extraordinary journey, a rollercoaster ride of triumph and tragedy,’ says author David Sedgwick. ‘When I first started this project three years ago I had no idea just how dramatic his life had been. And I certainly had no idea how much the role of fate and coincidence had played in his life.’

As well as containing interviews with colleagues and friends who knew the mysterious Frenchman, the book also contains excerpts of the never-before-published memoirs of Didier’s mother. ‘Tragically, Didier died just months before the birth of his twin boys,” explains Sedgwick, “This was his mother’s way of introducing the twins to the father they would never know. It’s an incredible document, poignant and very moving.”

Nowadays Pironi is remembered chiefly for his role in the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix in which he was accused of cheating his teammate Gilles Villeneuve out of victory. When the French-Canadian was killed just two weeks late while practising for the Belgian Grand Prix the media instantly blamed Pironi for his team-mate’s death. The Frenchman’s reputation never recovered.

“What happened following San Marino was a gross injustice,’ says Sedgwick. ‘The international motor racing press jumped on the story, portraying Didier as a sinner and Gilles as a saint, which was simply untrue. This book tells the true story of what happened that day and I hope will go some way to restoring his reputation.”

Accompanied by rare images from the Pironi family archive, the book relates the story of a young man’s quest to find and surpass his limits. Prior to Formula one Pironi had been a double Formula Renault champion, managing his own team at Magny-Cours. In 1978 along with Jean-Pierre Jassaud, he took a dramatic victory for Renault at Le Mans. Suffering from dehydration and severe muscle cramps, Didier fended off the mighty Porsche team for hour after hour. As a result of his exertions, the Frenchman became a national hero.

Didier Peroni driving the 126C2 in 1982

Didier Peroni driving the 126C2 in 1982

After his Hockenheim crash Pironi underwent a gruelling struggle to retain the use of his legs, and ultimately to drive in F1 again. “Didier went through absolute hell during those years,” says Sedgwick, “the only thing that kept him going was the desire to return to the F1 cockpit to claim the title that had been so brutally denied him all those years ago. It was not to be.”

The Frenchman lost his life during the 1987 Needles Powerboat Race when his boat hit the wash of an oil tanker, corkscrewing into the air before slamming into the water. Pironi and two colleagues were killed instantly. He was just 35 years old.

‘This is not just a motor racing biography,’ says Sedgwick, ‘As well as tragedy and suffering, Didier’s story is also one of endeavour and hope, a story of how one man attempted to conquer his demons. The story of Didier Pironi is a story of the human spirit.”

 

 

Pironi: The Champion That Never Was
(Pitch Publishing)
Available from Amazon:
e-book: 23 August
Paperback: 4 January 2018
David Sedgwick is a university lecturer and freelance writer whose next title ‘The Power and The Glory’ charts the bitter F1 rivalry between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

 

Book discounted tickets and reservate your hotel room in our F1 Tickets Shop.

Please share this article & subscribe to our FREE weekly F1 Newsletter!

PinIt
 submit to reddit  

3 thoughts on “Didier Pironi 'The Champion that never was'

  1. David de Angelis

    I look forward to this book. Pironi was a great driver and very unlucky man. He would be world champion in 1982 and maybe too 1983.

    Reply
    • Robert McClean

      He was a great driver and certainly would have been champion in 1982 and perhaps a further championship or two his dual with Gilles Villeneuve will be long remembered at Imola it was a great race to the finish, he did win it fairly and Villeneuve was a great driver too sadly both didn't see the end of the season but Ferrari still won the constructors championship as a consolation FORZA FERRARI !

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest posts in this F1 category:

See older posts in our F1 Archive »

Stay Updated by F1-Fansite!

2017 F1 Merchandise

2017 F1 MerchandiseGet your 2017 F1 Merchandise here.

Early Booking Discounts on F1 Tickets

Book F1 Tickets cheaper at F1-Fansite.com 2017 Formula 1 Season Early Booking Discounts are:
F1 Race Discount
Malaysia '17 Available Book Now
Japan '17 Available Book Now
USA '17 Available Book Now
Mexico '17 Available Book Now
Brazil '17 Available Book Now
Abu Dhabi '17 Available Book Now
Australia '18 Available Book Now
Spain '18 20% Discount Book Now
Monaco '18 Available Book Now
Canada '18 Available Book Now
Austria '18 20% Discount Book Now
UK '18 Available Book Now
Germany '18 29% Discount Book Now
Hungary '18 20% Discount Book Now
Belgium '18 15% Discount Book Now


We make use of cookies to personalise ads, to make use of social media & to analyse our website traffic. We also share this information with our partners for use of social media, ads & analyses. These partners can combine our info with other info that you already shared with them or that they have gathered of you by using their services. By continuing to use this website, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close