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Famous Like Me > Racing driver > P > Riccardo Patrese

Profile of Riccardo Patrese on Famous Like Me

Name: Riccardo Patrese  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 17th April 1954
Place of Birth: Padua, Italy
Profession: Racing driver
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Riccardo Patrese (born April 17, 1954) in Padua, Italy was a Formula One racing driver from 1977 until 1993.

Shadow and Arrows

Riccardo Patrese
Nationality Italian
Active years 1977 - 1993
Team(s) Shadow, Arrows, Brabham, Alfa Romeo, Williams, Benetton
Race starts 257
Championships 0
Wins 6
Podium finishes 37
Pole positions 8
Fastest laps 13
First Grand Prix Monaco 1977
First win Monaco 1982
Last win Japan 1992
Last Grand Prix Australia 1993

Patrese made his debut in 1977 with Shadow at the Monaco Grand Prix when the team were forced to change drivers mid-season. The following year Jackie Oliver split with Shadow founder Don Nicholls and formed the Arrows team, taking Patrese with him. Patrese very nearly won the team's second race, the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami, until engine failure forced him out 15 laps from the end. It would prove to be the closest Arrows would come to a Grand Prix win until Damon Hill's near-miss in 1997 in Hungary. Meanwhile, Shadow took Arrows to court, arguing that the design of the Arrows was too similar to their own and that the team had, in fact, stolen it. The court agreed, and Arrows had to massively rework their car - which they did in just six weeks.

Later in 1977, Patrese was involved in a huge accident when he came together with James Hunt at the start of the Italian Grand Prix - an accident which ultimately resulted in the death of Ronnie Peterson (although Peterson's injuries from the crash were not life-threatening, he died of a blood embolism the next day). Although Patrese was never officially blamed for the accident, Hunt, the reigning World Champion, certainly did blame him, subsequently leading a fierce campaign against Patrese, and succeededing in getting him banned from the next race. Since Hunt was a well-established F1 face and Patrese a rookie, many of other drivers also held Patrese accountable for the death of the popular Peterson. Only later would TV replays suggest that, in fact, it was Hunt himself who had caused the accident. However, Hunt never accepted this and would go on to continually and severley criticise Patrese in his TV commentaries for BBC television. The event cast a shadow over much of Patrese's early career, earning him the reputation as Formula One's 'enfant terrible.'


A switch to Brabham in 1982 was rewarded by a lucky win at the Monaco Grand Prix where both Didier Pironi and Andrea de Cesaris ran out of fuel on the final lap while leading. A second win followed in 1983 at the South African Grand Prix, but in a season which saw his team mate Nelson Piquet claim his second drivers title, Patrese finished a distant ninth in the championship. It would be seven years before he made another visit to the top step of the podium.

Alfa Romeo

A move to Alfa Romeo in 1984 delivered two lackluster seasons resulting in eight world championship points and a single visit to the podium at his home grand prix.

Return to Brabham

In 1986 Patrese returned to Brabham, but by now the team was a spent force and would never again take a driver to victory in a grand prix. Two more winless seasons followed despite the team's BMW engine being considered at the time to be the most powerful on the grid. Despite the trials of uncompetitive machinery Patrese never publicly criticised the team and earned respect throughout the sport for his professionalism. The 1987 Japanese Grand Prix brought an unexpected chance for Patrese to restart a career which for some time had appeared to be in decline, when Nigel Mansell was injured in a practice accident.


With the help of Brabham owner Bernie Ecclestone, Patrese was drafted in at Williams for the season finale in Australia.

Patrese impressed the Williams management enough that he was signed for the 1988 season to replace Nelson Piquet. Five seasons at Williams brought Patrese his most successful time in the sport. But in 1988, the team were struggling with Judd engines and an uncompetitive car. (Honda, the team's previous engine supplier, had switched to McLaren, at least partially owing to fears that, following the car accident that made him a quadraplegic, Frank Williams would not ever again be able to develop a competitive car). Sixteen races delivered only eight points and at the end of the season the team switched to Renault engines. But 1989 saw the arrival of Thierry Boutsen to Williams and for the first time in six years Patrese was once more driving for a team capable of winning races. His first visit to the top step of the podium in seven years came at the 1990 San Marino Grand Prix and a competitive season saw Patrese finish seventh in the drivers championship.

In 1991 Nigel Mansell returned to Williams and the team moved up from occasional winners to genuine contenders. Two race wins for Riccardo Patrese in Mexico and Portugal gave him his most competitive season in Formula One and a respectable third place behind title protagonists Ayrton Senna and teammate Nigel Mansell.


In 1992 Williams moved into a position of complete dominance and Patrese continued to deliver in his role of second driver taking one win and visiting the podium nine times in sixteen races. With Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell all desperately trying to sign for Williams Patrese's position looked to be under threat and he signed for Benetton before the end of the year. Ironically this move to secure his future in the sport may have cost him his best chance of the title. Unable to agree terms with Senna or Mansell, Williams signed Alain Prost and would almost certainly have retained Patrese had he not already agreed to leave the team.


While Williams continued to dominate in 1993 Patrese found it difficult to live with his prodigiously talented teammate Michael Schumacher. Even before the season was over Patrese was informed that he was "free to seek an alternate drive", and with most teams driver lineups already in place he opted for retirement, bringing to a conclusion the longest Formula One career in history.

At the time of writing Patrese's record 256 grand prix starts has stood for more than 10 years. However, with recent seasons including as many as 18 races both Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello seem well placed to surpass his total.

Riccardo Patrese's association with Williams was to continue after his driving career was over. In 2002 he was invited to test the teams modern car in thanks for his years of loyal service. Considering the substantial cost of a seat fitting, plus actually running the car at a track, this shows the very high regard in which Patrese continues to be held by Sir Frank Williams.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Riccardo Patrese