French F1 driver Patrick Tambay took over the Scuderia Ferrari race seat of his great friend, Gilles Villeneuve, following his tragic death in 1982 during the Belgian Grand Prix. He thrilled Ferrari fans world-wide when he brought Gilles’ #27 to victory that same year at the Germany Grand Prix at Hochenheim. It was also his first Grand Prix victory.
But the 1982 German GP had a tragic epilogue for the then leading man of the championship Didier Pironi (Patrick Tambay’s Ferrari teammate) who crashed in qualifying and sustained heavy injuries. Hockenheim had been modified for 1982 with slower first chicane and cars were extremely fast in the last year of ground effect aerodynamics, which enabled the generation of unseen levels of downforce, and in 1983 there was a big change in rules which banned designing the car around this aerodynamic concept.
A wet qualifying session saw championship leader Didier Pironi put in a lap good enough for pole, yet he continued to try and better his time. Disaster struck and, unsighted in the spray, he crashed into the back of the slow-moving Renault of Alain Prost. The Ferrari was catapulted into the air and Pironi’s legs were destroyed in the crash. He would never race again.
The incident had psychological ramifications for Prost too, who claimed he was haunted by the crash and never felt comfortable again driving an F1 car in conditions of limited visibility.
1982 German Grand Prix – full race