Trying to come back

After his accident during qualifying for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in 1982 Didier Pironi had declared more than once that he wanted to return to F1 one day. Four and a half years and 34 surgeries later he was convinced to be "completely healthy and absolutely fit again" and that therefore he wanted to drive an F1 in the 1987 season.

Guy Ligier was thinking about taking his ex-driver under contract again, especially after Jacques Laffite still suffered from the severe injuries resulting from a carambolage at Brands Hatch that year; a kind of fight for the Ligier cockpit developed.

McLaren, Brabham and Ferrari offered Didier a job as a testdriver for the non-turbo cars that were to come for the 1988 season. But Didier wanted to race, he wanted to " sit in an F1 car that I can win races with in 1987". Thus it was not very likely to go to Ligier as they were planning to use Alfa Romeo engines for 1987.

Francois Guerre-Bethelot, a friend of both Didier Pironi and the AGS-team around Henri Julien from Gonfaron finally asked Didier if he would like to help to develop the new AGS JH21 C while their driver Ivan Capelli had to race in Formula 3000 elsewhere.

The JH21 C, basically a modified old Renault RE40 monocoque equipped with a Motori Moderni V6 turbo from Alfa legend Carlo Chiti's company was a simply and robustly constructed car.

Didier accepted enthusiatically and the French press immediately started speculating about a comeback of Didier Pironi with AGS.

On August 12th, 1986 at 14:30 Pironi's helicopter landed at the Paul Ricard circuit of Le Castellet. AGS published a communiqué, that made clear that Didier's driving was just an act of friendship.

The test itself started around 18:30, Didier drove 70 laps on the 2.2 km long circuit, reaching a lap time of 47''6.
Unfortunately the AGS F1 team disappeared again rather soon, nowadays they offer the experience of driving an F1 car to everybody willing to pay some 3000 Euros at Le Luc circuit in Southern France.

While this test was more or less for fun it got far more serious very soon. At the end of August Didier did a whole day of testing in René Arnoux's Ligier-Renault at Dijon - Prenois. 60 laps without problems and laptimes within less than a second of Arnoux. Anyway, it was most probably a question of financial details that kept Ligier and Didier from signing a contract.

As any other serious offers never arrived Didier had to accept this as the end of his Formula 1 career.
Mail : info@didierpironi.net