Jérémy-Étienne Voeckler

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Jérémy-Étienne Voeckler, driving for McLaren in 1988

Jérémy-Étienne Voeckler (born February 17, 1960 in 16ème Arrondissement, Paris, France) is a French professional racing driver and team principal. He is part of the Voeckler family of racing drivers; the elder brother of fellow Formula One driver Frédéric-Maxime Voeckler. He was the Formula One World Drivers Champion in 1988, driving for Honda Marlboro McLaren.

Formula One

1987-1988: McLaren

By 1987, Voeckler was driving for Marlboro McLaren International alongside Austrian veteran and team leader Gerhard Berger. Unlike his teammate, Voeckler was a lot more lucky in the early stages of the season in regards to reliability and would take his first win of the season in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. Voeckler would take several podiums throughout the season as well as a second win in the European Grand Prix in Dijon-Prenois. Ultimately, Voeckler would retire in the final race of 1987 and finished the season in third - two points adrift of Berger.

The following year, Berger and Voeckler remained at McLaren and had the opportunity to pilot the innovative MP4-4. Barring a slight challenge from the Ferrari pair of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, the McLaren duo were the main protagonists in the title battle. The pair swapped the title lead over the course of the season, with Berger having the initial edge over Voeckler for most of the year. Berger finished the season on top with 84 points but with only the 11 best points finishes counted towards the world championship, Voeckler would be the 1988 champion despite scoring less.

1989-1991: Williams

Voeckler would make a shock switch to McLaren rivals Williams ahead of the 1989 season, teaming up with Nigel Mansell. However, his title defence was a complete failure and he finished the season in seventh place - his best results being a pair of second place finishes. Voeckler's relationship with Williams briefly hung in the balance when he took part in a number of World Touring Car Masters races for his family-run team. A unknown member of Williams management had spoken to a journalist from The Generic Times in a hotel bar and alleged that Voeckler could be sacked for these offences. Once the media storm began, Voeckler was courted by a number of outfits for the 1990 season (most notable was an audacious offer from AGS owner Henri Julien) before Williams and Voeckler denounced the rumours in a joint conference.

1990 saw Voeckler team up with another French superstar in the form of Ferrari refugee Alain Prost, with Mansell moving in the other direction. Voeckler and Williams had a relatively average season - taking a solitary win at Imola and finishing the year 6th in the championship, earning himself 30 points.

In 1991, the lineup remained the same, but with Williams taking a gamble by taking on Pirelli tyres - more renowned for their qualifying pace than their race performance. This mostly came true - Voeckler took 7 straight pole positions in the middle of the season, but in the races the tyres just could not keep up with the Goodyear rubber McLaren and Arrows brandished. Nevertheless, Voeckler was clearly bested by teammate Prost - who was simply much better at managing his tyres. Voeckler also made several errors in the season - he was beaten by Michele Alboreto in the notably inferior Minardi at the circuit he had won at only a year previously, and spun out early at Hockenheim and barely made it into the points. However, after retiring from the Hungarian Grand Prix with an arguably self-inflicted puncture, it was over. Williams terminated Voeckler’s contract with immediate effect, and he was replaced by young Brit Jack Christopherson. He ended the year 8th in the championship with a comparatively measly 18 points - a shadow of a man who had won his first world championship just three years previously.

Personal Life

Jérémy-Étienne, along with his brother Frédéric-Maxime, has worked as a team principal of Voeckler Grand Prix Engineering since his father Jean-François handed the reins of the team to the pair in the early 2000s. A series of acquisitions in the following years has seen Voeckler become one of the largest motorsport companies in the world.

Jérémy-Étienne has two sons - Alexandre-Laurent and Timothée with his wife. Alexandre-Laurent raced in Formula One with Renault, Ferrari, Villeneuve and Sauber - winning two races throughout his career at the top level. His other son, Timothée also raced cars but is more notable as a professional cyclist.