- October 13, 1949
- March 12, 2017
- Not Active
Patrick Neve (1949 – 2017) was a Belgian racing driver who recorded fourteen participations and ten starts in the Formula One World Championship between 1976 and 1978, driving for three different teams. He was the first ever driver for newly-established Frank Williams' team in 1977.
Besides Formula One, Neve gained some success in the Formula 3 and Formula 2, but also in touring car racing.
Neve started a career in 1972
Patrick's full name is Patrick Marie Ghislain Pierre Simon Stanislas Neve de Mevergnies. Born in Liege, Belgium, he started a racing career in the Formula Ford in 1972. In 1973, he participated in two races of the European Touring Car Championship, driving an Opel Commodore GS for Opel Gulf Racing Team. One of those races was the Spa 24 Hours, where he finished seventh, together with Christine Beckers and Huub Vermeulen.
Formula Ford champion in 1974
In 1974, Neve has won the championship title in the BRDC Formula Ford 1600. He also participated in some British Formula 3 races, but without any success. At 1974 Spa 24 Hours, he was driving Opel Commodore again, finishing in the 8th place.
In 1975, Neve spent a full season in the BARC F3 Championship with Safir Engineering, scoring one victory and finishing fourth in the points.
Formula One debut in 1976
In 1976, Neve made a debut in Formula One. His first F1 event was the XI Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in March. He was driving the #33 Brabham BT44-Cosworth for RAM Racing, finishing in the seventh place. In April, he participated in the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone, finishing in the eleventh place.
Finally, he debuted in the F1 World Championship in May, driving a Brabham-Cosworth at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. He retired after 26 laps with broken halfshaft. In July, Neve had the second attempt in the F1 World Championship, driving the #22 Ensign N176-Cosworth for Team Ensign in the French Grand Prix. He finished 18th.
Victory in the ETCC race at Salzburgring
Besides F1 races, Neve scored one notable victory in the European Touring Car Championship. In April, at Salzburgring, he and Hughes de Fierlant won the 4-hour race in the #39 BMW 3.0 CSL of the Luigi Team.
In July, Neve participated at Spa 24 Hours with Norman Reeves Ltd., driving a Ford Capri II 3.0. His co-drivers were Brian Muir and Jeremy Nightingale. They were disqualified because receiving outside assistance.
First ever driver of Williams F1 Team
In 1977, Neve participated in the opening round of the Formula 2 European Championship, finishing in the third place and setting the fastest lap in a March-BMW. And then, he was invited by Frank Williams to join his newly-established team Williams Grand Prix Engineering.
Neve was the team's only driver, driving the #27 March 761-Cosworth. They made a debut in the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, the fifth round of the championship. Neve was 22nd on the starting grid, finishing 12th in the race. After that, he participated in ten more events, managing to qualify for the race seven times. His best result was the seventh place in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, missing to score a maiden point for Williams.
ETCC victory at Zolder, podium at Spa
While driving in the Formula One, Neve had some attempts in the touring car racing. He failed to qualify for the Spa 24 Hours and won the ETCC race at Zolder, where he was sharing the #4 BMW 3.0 CSL with Dieter Quester.
In 1978, after leaving F1, Neve continued to participate in touring car races, driving a BMW 320 for BMW Belgium in the German Racing Championship and World Championship for Makes, sharing a car mostly with Harald Grohs. At Spa 24 Hours, which was a non-championship race, Neve and Alain Peltier finished third in a BMW 530i.
One more last F1 attempt in a private car
In the 1978 Formula One season, Williams took Alan Jones as a replacement for Patrick Neve. However, Neve recorded one more last F1 attempt, entering the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder with his own March 781S-Cosworth. It was an unsuccessful attempt, as he was too slow to even qualify for official practice.
In 1978, Neve also had one start in the Formula 2 with March-BMW, in the season-opening race at Thruxton. He didn't finish the race. He recorded six more F2 starts later in a career, most of them (four) in 1979 with Onyx Racing, but without notable results.
1980 – debuting at Daytona and Le Mans
In July 1979, Patrick Neve was a member of the strong crew at Spa 24 Hours, sharing the #28 Kinley BMW 530i with Didier Theys and Hans-Joachim Stuck. They were fastest qualifiers but didn't finish the race.
In 1980, Neve made a debut at Daytona 24 Hours and Le Mans 24 Hours, driving a BMW March M1 for March Engineering. Both races were the part of the World Sportscar Championship and he retired in both, same as at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. His co-driver in all races was Michael Korten.
One more DNF at Le Mans, three DNFs at Spa
Neve rejoined March again in the 1982 FIA World Endurance Championship, driving a March 82G-Chevrolet at 24 hours of Le Mans. His co-drivers in the #14 car were Eje Elgh and Jeff Wood. They retired after 78 laps.
In the early 1980s, Neve was a regular participant at Spa 24 Hours but his results were disappointing. He retired three times in a row from 1980 to 1982, all three times in a Ford Capri III 3.0S.
1984 ETCC with Volvo, 1990 Belgian Procar with Porsche
In 1984, Neve entered the European Touring Car Championship with GTM Engineering's Volvo 240 Turbo. His co-driver for most of the season was Jean-Marie Pirnay. Their best result was 8th place at Zetlweg. At Spa 24 Hours, they were 24th.
After that, Neve retired from professional racing, reactivating himself in 1990 for the Belgian Procar Championship. He was driving a Porsche 911 Carrera 2 for RAS Sport, finishing second in the championship, together with Thierry van Dalen. They were sixth at Spa 24 Hours. In 1991, Neve returned for the last time at Spa, not finishing the race in a Porsche.
Patrick's younger brother lost a life in a racing accident
Patrick Neve had a younger brother Guy, born in 1955. He was also a racing driver, competing mostly in touring car races. He lost his life in June 1992, in an accident during a practice for a Procar endurance race on a temporary track in Chimay, Belgium, while driving a Porsche 911.