Retired

Riccardo Patrese

Italian

  • Padua, Italy Place of Birth
  • 17 April 1954 Date of Birth
  • 1977 Monaco Grand Prix F1 Debut
  • Benetton Current/Last Team

Riccardo Patrese was born in Padua, Italy. A former karting prodigy, he won the world title in 1974 before transitioning to cars in the Formula Italia series the following year. Finishing as runner-up to Bruno Giacomelli, Patrese then embarked on a full season of Formula 3 in 1976, engaging in a fierce battle with Conny Andersson for the European championship that culminated in a dramatic final round victory for Patrese.

NationalityItalian
BornRiccardo Gabriele Patrese
17 April 1954
Padua, Italy

In 1977, Patrese had a successful stint in Formula 2 with a Chevron, but was soon called up to the Shadow team to replace Zorzi mid-season. Later that year, Jackie Oliver left Shadow to form the Arrows team and took Patrese with him. This led to a legal battle where Shadow accused Arrows of stealing their car design, which the court upheld, forcing Arrows to redesign their car in just six weeks. Despite his off-track controversies, Patrese’s driving skills were undeniable.

In 1978, Patrese started strong, leading comfortably in South Africa until an engine failure cost him the win. However, his rough edges showed, particularly after the accident involving Ronnie Peterson at Monza, where Patrese was targeted for blame despite TV replays suggesting otherwise. James Hunt’s campaign against Patrese led to his suspension from the next race, but Patrese persevered.

From 1979 to 1981, Patrese remained with Arrows, experiencing occasional promise but little sustained success. In 1982, he moved to Brabham, where he won the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix in a dramatic race and another victory at the South African Grand Prix in 1983. However, his team-mate Nelson Piquet won the Drivers’ Championship, leaving Patrese in a distant ninth place. His next victory would come seven years later.

A move to Alfa Romeo in 1984 yielded two lackluster seasons with only eight championship points and a single podium finish. Returning to Brabham in 1986, Patrese faced an uncompetitive team despite having the most powerful engine on the grid. His professionalism earned him respect despite the team’s struggles.

In late 1987, Patrese replaced the injured Nigel Mansell at Williams for the 1987 Australian Grand Prix. Impressed by his performance, Williams signed him for the 1988 season as Nelson Piquet’s replacement. The team’s non-turbocharged Judd engines made for a challenging year, but the arrival of Renault engines in 1989 allowed Patrese and team-mate Thierry Boutsen to compete more often. Patrese won his second Grand Prix at San Marino in 1990, finishing seventh in the Drivers’ Championship.

In 1991, Nigel Mansell returned to Williams, and alongside Patrese, they became serious contenders for both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships. Patrese’s two wins at Mexico and Portugal marked his most competitive F1 season to date, finishing third behind Mansell and Ayrton Senna.

Williams dominated F1 in 1992, with Patrese playing a supportive role to Mansell, securing his only win of the season at the 1992 Japanese Grand Prix and achieving eight podium finishes. With his position under threat due to Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, and Nigel Mansell all vying for Williams seats, Patrese preemptively signed with Benetton for 1993. Ironically, only Prost secured a seat at Williams.

In 1993, Patrese struggled to compete with his new team-mate Michael Schumacher at Benetton. Mid-season, Benetton informed him that he could seek another drive. With most teams already having drivers signed for 1994, Patrese chose to retire, concluding one of the longest careers in F1 history.

Riccardo Patrese Formula One World Championship career

F1 Career1977–1993
TeamsShadow, Arrows, Brabham, Alfa Romeo, Williams, Benetton
Entries257 (256 starts)
Championships0
Wins6
Podiums37
Career points281
Pole positions8
Fastest laps13
First entry1977 Monaco Grand Prix
First win1982 Monaco Grand Prix
Last win1992 Japanese Grand Prix
Last entry1993 Australian Grand Prix

Sources: Historicracing.com and Wikipedia.com

Teammates

Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
Australian Arrows 1975 Spanish Grand Prix Died, F1 Legend
Brazilian Benetton 1978 German Grand Prix F1 Legend
American Arrows 1978 Argentine Grand Prix Retired
British Team Lotus 1981 San Marino Grand Prix Retired
Italian Sauber 1980 Canadian Grand Prix Died
British McLaren 1980 Austrian Grand Prix F1 Legend
British Jordan Grand Prix 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix Retired
Belgian Jordan Grand Prix 1983 Belgian Grand Prix Retired
German Mercedes 1991 Belgian Grand Prix F1 Legend

Teams

Team Nationality Debut Season Status
Shadow British 1973 Historic
Arrows British 1978 Historic
Brabham British 1962 Historic
Alfa Romeo Italian 1950 Historic
Williams British 1978 Current
Benetton British, Italian 1986 Historic