Dijon 1979. – First win for Renault, exciting battle Villeneuve – Arnoux

Jean-Pierre Jabouille celebrated his first F1 victory at Dijon, which was also the first F1 victory for Renault and turbo engines, but the race was remembered for the legendary battle between Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux for the second place.

Renault started its F1 adventure in 1977 as a constructor and engine manufacturer, and in their first F1 car was RS01 in 1977 when they first used a turbo engine. This was the 1,5-litre V6 engine tested for the first time in 1976, and the first race they used it was the British GP in 1977 .

Renault has prepared its version of its turbocharged twin turbo V6 engine for Monaco GP in 1979 making a big step forward in solving turbo lag, and in the next race at French Dijon Jabouille won from pole position and gave French manufacturer their first victory in Formula 1, which is also the first victory for a turbo engine.

Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari Rene Arnoux Renault French GP F1 1979 Dijon Photo Renault
Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari) and Rene Arnoux (Renault) during the French GP 1979

Frenchman Jabouille won the French GP on the French track Dijon with a French engine using French tyres (Michelin) and French fuel and oil (Elf).

Gilles Villeneuve in Ferrari and Rene Arnoux in Renault had one of the biggest battles in Formula 1 history for the runner-up spot in the final laps of the race when they touched with wheels several times, Villeneuve eventually finishing 0.24 seconds ahead of Arnoux.

Villeneuve later described this fight as ‘one of the greatest memories in his Grand Prix racing memory’.

In addition to being the first win for Renault, Rene Arnoux brought them the first fastest lap in Formula 1, as he secured his first points and first podium after starting from the front row for the first time, behind pole sitter Jabouille.


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