DRIVERS: RENE ARNOUX
Name: Rene Arnoux
Date of birth: July 4, 1948 - Pontcharra, nr Grenoble
Rene Arnoux was born in Grenoble in 1948 and started racing in karts in Italy. He was then picked as one of the outstanding drivers in the Volant Shell competition but with the demise of that contest he was fortunate to be picked up by Elf. As a result he won the French Formule Renault title of 1973. Two years later he added the European Super Renault title and moved into Formula 2 in 1976 with the Martini-Renault team. It was a great debut year and Arnoux won at Pau, Enna and Estoril to finish runner-up to the experienced Jean-Pierre Jabouille. He stayed in F2 with Martini in 1977 and duly won the title with three victories which put him ahead of Eddie Cheever and Didier Pironi.
Tico Martini then decided to build his own F1 car but the resulting MK23 was a big disappointment because it did not feature the all-important ground-effect technology. The team failed to qualify in South Africa and Monaco but Arnoux made the field and finished ninth in Belgium. He raced on three other occasions but lack of sponsorship caused the team to pull out of F1. At the end of the year he twice tried out the uncompetitive Surtees but failed to qualify on both occasions. He was however hired by Renault Sport for 1979 as partner to Jabouille. As soon as he had learned the ropes and Jabouille had set up the cars for him, Arnoux became a strong force winning his first GPs in Brazil and South Africa and finishing sixth in the World Championship.
The arrival in the Renault team in 1981 of Alain Prost changed things and Arnoux won nothing that year. In 1982 he upset the team when he disobeyed orders and beat Prost at the French GP. It was clear he would leave the team in 1983 and the day before a deal with Ferrari was announced Arnoux won again at the Italian GP.
In 1983 Arnoux was soon the frontrunning Ferrari driver and that year won the Canadian, German and Dutch GPs to finish third in the World Championship. In 1984 however Michele Alboreto joined the Italian team and Arnoux was under pressure again. His performances became increasingly inconsistent and then, unexpectedly, he was ditched by the team just after the 1985 Brazilian GP. Arnoux sat out the rest of the year, getting his head back together again, and then returned to F1 with Ligier in 1986.
It was a bad time and for the next four seasons he struggled with uncompetitive cars and earned himself a bad reputation of being a backmarker who was very difficult to overtake. He was dropped by Ligier after 1988 and retired from the sport and with Jean-Paul Driot established the DAMS (Driot Arnoux Motor Sport) Formula 3000 team. He has raced occasionally since his retirement, most recently in the GP Masters series in 2006. He owns and operates four indoor kart tracks in France under the Kart'In banner: two in Paris, one in Lyon and the fourth in Aix-en-Provence. He has recently produced a video game called Rene Arnoux Karting in partnership with Midas Interactive.