RetroGP Gone but not Forgotten
Dedicated to Ligier's assault on the 1980 Formula 1 World Championship.
For 1980 Gerard Ducarouge updated the 1979 JS11 with improved aerodynamics and better ground effects. The team took on Didier Pironi in place of Patrick Depailler to partner Jacques Laffite. Again the car was fast and competitive, but the Brabham BT49 and the Williams FW07 proved to be the cars to beat, with Alan Jones eventually taking the world championship.
Even so, Laffite and Pironi both scored wins, and would surely have taken more but for several suspension and tyre failures in the mid season. Although the chassis flexing issues had been solved, the car was still producing so much downforce that the suspension and wheelhubs were coming under direct loading and therefore stress fractures developed. This was due to the immense pressure exerted on the suspension arms and the wheels by the ground effect, causing them to fail under hard braking. This effectively cost Ligier the chance to fight with Williams and Brabham for both titles.
The team finished second in the constructors' championship in 1980 behind Williams but ahead of Brabham. In the drivers' championship Laffite finished 4th with Pironi just 2 points behind in 5th.
In all the JS11 took five wins, seven pole positions and scored 127 points in its career.
DID YOU KNOW?
The JS before each of Ligier's 27 model numbers is a tribute Guy Ligier's long time friend Jo Schlesser who was killed at the 1968 French Grand Prix.
Team boss Guy Ligier was a tough, uncompromising character, but he was also a racer, through and through.
Ligier started his working life in a butcher's shop in his home town, with his first sporting foray in the world of rowing, becoming champion of France in 1947. He also represented the France B team in rugby in the late 1940s before a number of injuries brought that career to a premature end.
Significantly, Ligier moved into the construction business from which he made his early fortune as he played a significant role in helping to develop France's motorway system.
Paying tribute to Ligier, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said: "As a child growing up in Le Mans, I was inspired and entranced by his iconic and beautiful pale-blue-and-white Ligier Formula 1 cars, driven with panache and aplomb by such French racing heroes as Jacques Laffite, Patrick Depailler and Didier Pironi.
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