OBSCURE F1 A-Z: OLIVIER PANIS
In this 26 part series of posts I will be going through the alphabet and for each letter, a profile piece on an obscure driver - some you may have heard of before some you may never knew even sat in an F1 car let alone raced one. I have chosen a driver for each letter choosing them based on their surnames.
Panis raced in Formula One for ten years competing in two stints the first - from his debut in 1994 to 1999 he then returned the sport in 2001 and retired from F1 in 2004. During his tenure in F1, Panis raced for four teams including Ligier, Prost, BAR and Toyota. Entering 158 races, starting 157.
His first F1 race was the 1994 Brazilian Grand Prix a race which he finished a respectable 11th place in a Ligier three laps down to race leader and eventual winner Micheal Schumacher.
The 1996 Monaco Grand Prix has gone down in history as the race no one wanted to win. Which is strange for Monaco being the toughest track on the Formula One calendar a race every driver dreams of winning. But in 1996 the 'favourites' for the victory that year failed to finish the race including, J. Villeneuve, D. Hill, M. Schumacher, J. Alesi and E. Irvine.
Only three drivers (the top 3) actually finished the race but the top seven are classified as they reacher a certain race distance. The race was dominated by Damon Hill and Jean Alesi for 60 laps until both drivers failed to finish which left Panis to lead the race for 15 laps (laps 60 - 75) which allowed him to build up a gap of 4.8 seconds to second placed finisher David Coulthard in the McLaren and 37.5 seconds clear of third place Johnny Herbert in his Sauber.
The French driver made his final F1 appearance at the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix - where he finished 14th in his Toyota two laps down on winner Micheal Schumacher.
During his career Panis achieved;
0 Fatest Laps
0 Pole Positions
76 Career Points
5 Podiums &
*As of May 2020 Panis is the last French driver to win a Formula One race.