Died, F1 Legend

Alan Jones

Australian

  • Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Place of Birth
  • 2 November 1946 Date of Birth
  • 1975 Spanish Grand Prix F1 Debut
  • Arrows Current/Last Team

Alan Jones was a straight-talking, iron-willed, and hard-driving tough guy who fought to the forefront of Formula One racing. Initially considered a journeyman driver, his career took off when he teamed up with the then equally undistinguished Williams team. Together, they conquered the racing world, with Jones becoming the prototypical Williams driver.

NationalityAustralian
BornAlan Stanley Jones
2 November 1946
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Alan’s father, Stan Jones, an affluent car dealer, was one of Australia’s top racers in the mid-1950s, good enough to be offered tryouts in Europe but chose to stay home to look after his business and family. Alan Stanley Jones, born in Melbourne on November 2, 1946, was inspired by his father’s successes and encouraged to pursue racing himself. By 15, Alan was a kart racing champion and soon excelled in a Mini and his father’s single-seater Coopers. However, progress stalled when Stan went bankrupt during an Australian economic recession. In 1967, Alan scraped together enough cash to finance a traditional Australian tour of England and Europe, deciding that his motorsport future lay abroad.

In 1970, with £50 in his pocket, Alan arrived in London and started a business serving fellow Antipodean travellers by selling well-used minivans. When his girlfriend Bev (later his wife) joined him, they rented a boarding house and hired out rooms. With meager profits, Alan raced on a shoestring budget. Stan, now divorced, came to England to provide moral support during Alan’s painfully slow progress. Alan struggled with a battered old Formula Ford and a crashed Formula Three Lotus that broke his leg. His break came with a sponsored F3 ride in a GRD, leading to his first victory at Silverstone in 1973. Sadly, just before this race, Stan died of a heart attack. Alan placed a laurel wreath in his father’s coffin and went on to finish second in the 1973 British F3 championship.

In 1974, Alan performed well enough in Formula Atlantic to be upgraded to Formula One in a Hesketh for 1975. He finished that season with Hill, Graham Hill‘s team, scoring a solid fifth at the Nurburgring, which led John Surtees to employ him for 1976. However, they did not get along, and the Surtees cars did not perform well, stalling Alan’s career until tragedy provided another opportunity.

In the 1977 South African Grand Prix, Tom Pryce was killed, and Shadow hired Alan to replace him. A plucky drive in wet/dry conditions in Austria resulted in Alan’s maiden win for both himself and Shadow. Though the team never won again, this victory led to an offer from Ferrari for 1978, which was later rescinded in favour of Gilles Villeneuve. Alan then joined Williams Grand Prix Engineering, impressed by Frank Williams’ ambition and Patrick Head’s Williams FW06 car. The team appreciated Alan’s qualities, leading to steady progress. AJ won four races and finished third in the 1979 championship.

In 1980, the Williams FW07B and AJ became the combination to beat, winning races in Argentina, France, Britain, Canada, and the USA, making Alan Jones the World Champion. Frank Williams praised AJ as a “man’s man,” admired for his determination and independence. Patrick Head lauded him as a “hard, competitive animal in a racing car,” even driving with a broken hand to finish second in a race. Alain Prost described AJ as “the most fiery, powerful, even violent driver.”

Despite his success, his reign as champion was marred by mechanical problems, leading to two wins and a third-place finish in the standings. AJ retired to Australia, bored with farming and returning to racing intermittently, including a one-off ride with Arrows in 1983 and a comeback with Beatrice Formula One in 1985, which eventually failed.

Back in Australia, AJ raced saloon cars, helped his son Christian’s driving career, and worked as a TV commentator. In 2010, he returned to the F1 paddock as an FIA steward’s advisor at select Grand Prix.

Alan Jones Formula One World Championship career

F1 Career1975–1981, 1983, 1985–1986
TeamsHesketh (privateer)
Hill, Surtees, Shadow, Williams, Arrows, Haas Lola
Entries117 (116 starts)
Championships1 (1980)
Wins12
Podiums24
Career points199 (206)
Pole positions6
Fastest laps13
First entry1975 Spanish Grand Prix
First win1977 Austrian Grand Prix
Last win1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix
Last entry1986 Australian Grand Prix

Source: Formula1.com and Wikipedia.com

Teammates

Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
Italian Benetton 1977 Monaco Grand Prix Retired
French Ligier 1971 Italian Grand Prix Retired
Argentine Williams 1972 Argentine Grand Prix Died
Swiss Ensign 1970 Dutch Grand Prix Died
American Arrows 1978 Argentine Grand Prix Retired

Teams

Team Nationality Debut Season Status
Hesketh British 1973 Historic
Hill British 1973 Historic
Surtees British 1970 Historic
Shadow British 1973 Historic
Williams British 1978 Current
Arrows British 1978 Historic