Q&A with F1 legend Riccardo Patrese as he enjoys a weekend at Goodwood driving the Brabham BT52 he raced in 1983
With 256 race starts to his name, Riccardo Patrese is one of the most experienced Formula One racing drivers in the history of the sport. At this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed he is reunited with the Brabham BT52 which he raced in the 1983 World Championship, presenting the ideal opportunity to reflect on that season, and an incredible career spanning a huge variety of rivals and cars:
Can you tell us a little about what the car was like when you last drove it?
“Well I last drove this car 33 years ago when I won the South African Grand Prix! We also won the championship with Nelson [Piquet] that year. It brings back a lot of great memories for me – the car had a combination of great power from the BMW engine with an unconventional arrow form in the aerodynamics which was a new concept for those years and a lot of downforce, which altogether made it very competitive.”
Are you enjoying being at Goodwood and back in the car this year?
“I’ve been coming to Goodwood for a very long time – I think the first time was back in 1997 or 1998 – and I love it here because the atmosphere is unbelievable and the fans are very enthusiastic.
“To have the possibility to meet old friends and a car like the BT52 which I won grands prix in, it’s something that doesn’t happen very often, so I’m very happy when I come here.”
You raced in F1 for a very long time – how much did the sport change while you were a part of it?
“The simple answer is a lot. I was close to the era in the 1970s where they had great champions like Niki Lauda and James Hunt, and I finished racing with Michael Schumacher! In the end I experienced an amazing range of drivers and also technology. I started with cars with not a lot of downforce or power, and you really had to work hard to keep the car on the road because they would slide around a lot. By the time I did my last season the cars like the 1992 Williams with the active suspension were some of the most advanced cars ever – even by modern standards. The cars today are incredibly complex, but there we just as many, if not more radical changes at that time with new inventions like the turbo, the different types of engines racing together and so on.”
Is there a particular time that stands out for you as a favourite?
“There were so many aspects that allowed me to explore lots of different changes from the beginning to the end of my career. The cars that I finished my career in were safer, and really enjoyable to drive, but the 1970s cars also had aspects that were unique and special. In the end I’m just really lucky to have been able to experience so much of an amazingly innovative environment with Formula 1.”