There are so many great racecars. I have always liked the Cobra, and I would be very pleased for someone to offer me a drive in one. My job gives me a very nice opportunity of driving historic racing cars for Renault. I get to drive many of their fantastic cars, like the F1 cars and the Alpine sportscars. I would say my greatest racecar has to be my championship-winning F3 Alpine A364B. The car was a works car entered by Societé des Automobiles Alpine, it was designed by André de Cortanze and the Renault engine was by Bernard Dudot. At the beginning of the 1973 season I drove the 1972-specification car, the same car as Patrick Depailler had won the prestigious Monaco F3 race with. However, the Martini cars became so competitive and it was hard to keep up with them until we had an upgrade to the suspension that gave better road handling. The car was so good it helped me win the French F3 Championship that year. Unfortunately, that year was the end of Alpine as an F3 constructor, but it is always good to leave when you’re winning.
After a successful F3 season, I progressed through F2 and eventually realized my dream of driving a Grand Prix car in Formula One. When you reach the top level of the sport you find you are either in the right place at the right time, or, as many others will tell you, in the right place at the wrong time. For me, unfortunately, it was the latter. My first race was with the Tyrrell team. I had won this drive by doing well in F2, winning at Rouen, Silverstone and Zolder and finishing 2nd in the championship. Elf Petroleum who sponsored my F2 car also sponsored Tyrrell and made my Formula One debut possible. The race was at Watkins Glen, the 1975 USGP, I qualified 20th out of 24, but had engine troubles on lap five and had to retire. My good F2 season led me to being signed by Frank Williams Racing Cars to drive his Williams FW05-Cosworth alongside Jacky Ickx. The cars were formerly the Hesketh 308C cars Frank had bought after Hesketh had finished with them. After the first two races Walter Wolf bought a major part of the team, and it was renamed Walter Wolf Racing. The car wasn’t the best, there wasn’t enough aerodynamic grip and I found myself qualifying toward the back of the grid. Indeed, it was a very difficult job trying to get the car on the grid in the first place. Jacky failed to qualify in three out of four races—Monaco, Zolder and Silverstone—and he wasn’t too happy. Although difficult to qualify, I found it raced better, finishing around 11th out of 25 or so starters. Jody Scheckter joined the Wolf team in 1977, Harvey Postlethwaite had been appointed the designer and Frank Williams had left to set up his own team again. The Wolf WR1 car was both competitive and successful, winning first time out at Buenos Aires, then in Monte Carlo and again in Canada. Scheckter finished 2nd in the 1977 championship. By that time I had left the team and was back racing F2. Just one year was the difference; I had been in the right place, but at the wrong time.
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