Career Summary:

Thierry Boutsen

  • July 13, 1957
  • 60
  • Belgium
  • Not Active
  • 315
  • Arrows,Benetton,Jorda,Ligier,Williams
  • 19
  • 57
  • 19
  • 12
  • 6.03%
  • 18.10%

Thierry Boutsen is a Belgian businessman and a co-owner of the racing team. During his career of racing driver Boutsen started in 163 Formula 1 Grand Prix races between 1983 and 1993, with five teams. He scored three F1 victories and fifteen podiums.

Boutsen also participated ten times at 24 hours of Le Mans, reaching three podiums in the overall classification and one class victory. He won at 24 hours of Daytona in his only participation in 1985.

Thierry Boutsen, Williams F1 car 1989 1990,, Boutsen Aviation

Thierry Boutsen - aviation businessman and former F1 driver

Thierry started racing at the age of 20

Thierry Marc Boutsen was born on July 13th, 1957, in Brussels, Belgium. He started a racing career in 1977, by winning the Volant V competition in the Andre Pilette Racing School at Circuit Zolder. Next year he entered  the Belgian Formula Ford 1600 championship and won the title with 15 victories in 18 races.

He also participated in the 1978 Spa 24-hour race, the last which was organized on the old 14-km circuit. His co-drivers in the Toyota Sprinter Trueno were Lella Lombardi and Marc Duez, but they didn't reach the finish.

Thierry Boutsen, 1979, Spa

Boutsen drive BMW 530i at 1979 24 hours of Spa

Formula 3 runner-up behind Alboreto

In 1979, Thierry moved to Formula 3 and competed mostly in the European championship, but also in Germany and Great Britain. In the first season he scored just one podium in one non-championship race, but in 1980 Boutsen finished second in the European championship, behind Michele Alboreto. Boutsen was driving for Oreca and he won three of 14 races.

Vice-champion of the Formula Two championship

Next step was 1981 European Formula Two championship in the BMW-powered car of March Racing team. Boutsen was again the runner-up, behind Geoff Lees. Boutsen won two of twelve races, including a race at Nürburgring Nordschleife.

1981 24 hours of Le Mans, Thierry Boutsen, WM P81

Boutsen at Le Mans in 1981 with WM P81

Le Mans debut ended with a fatal crash

In 1981, Boutsen entered 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time, pairing with Serge Saulnier and Michel Pignard for the team WM A.E.R.E.M. Unfortunately the race ended early for Boutsen, who crashed with Peugeot-powered WM P81 prototype after just 15 laps. Boutsen survived the heavy crash, which happened at the speed of about 350 km/h, but the debris killed one marshal and injured two his colleagues.

Boutsen spent one more season in the Formula Two, driving Spirit-Honda for the Marlboro Team Spirit. He won three of 13 races and finished third in the final standings of 1982 F2 championship, behind Corrado Fabi and Johnny Cecotto. He also joined Jean Rondeau in two endurance races (1000 km of Spa and 6 hours of Fuji).

Thierry Boutsen, Arrows, 1983, 1984, 1985

Thierry Boutsen in Arrows Formula One car

Formula 1 debut in 1983 with Arrows

After two successful seasons in Formula Two, Boutsen was just a step from Formula One. He tested F1 cars of McLaren and Brabham and hoped that could enter Formula One with his Spirit Racing team, which prepared F1 debut for 1983. After Spirit's only car was occupied by Stefan Johansson, Boutsen found a seat in the Arrows Racing Team.

Boutsen debuted in Formula One on May 22nd, at Belgian circuit Spa-Francorchamps. This was the first F1 race to be held on the modern and shortened Spa circuit. Boutsen qualified 18th but retired after just four laps. He was successful at North American tour, winning 7th place in two races, at United States Grand Prix and Canadian Grand Prix.

After return to Europe, Boutsen raced for the second time at 24h Le Mans race, with Ford France team and Henri Pescarolo as a co-driver in the Rondeau M482 prototype. They retired after 174 laps.

1983 Le Mans, Rondeau M482, Boutsen, Pescarolo

Rondeau M482 of Boutsen and Pescarolo at 1983 24 hours of Le Mans

Three more F1 seasons with Arrows

In the rest of the season, Boutsen competed in seven more Formula One races, scoring no points. He was more successful  in the World Endurance Championship. He won at 1000 km of Monza, sharing the Joest Racing Porsche 956 with Bob Wollek, and finished third at Silverstone in the Canon Racing Porsche 956 with Jan Lammers. Of course, Boutsen didn't miss 24 hours of Spa, driving BMW 635 CSi with Claude Ballot-Lena and Thierry Sabine.

In Formula One, Boutsen remained with the Arrows team for a further three seasons. In the opening race of the 1984 season, at Brazilian Grand Prix, he finished sixth and took his first point. During the season he was combining Cosworth-powered Arrows A6 and BMW-turbo-powered Arrows A7, finishing in points at Imola and Österreichring, to finish 15th in the final standings with five points.

During 1984 Boutsen competed with Fitzpatrick Racing in the German Racing Championship (DRM) and World Endurance Championship, driving Porsche 956 in 12 races. He finished third in the German championship.

1985 24 hours of Daytona

1985 Daytona 24 hours winners: Foyt, Wollek, Boutsen and Unser

Sensational victory at Daytona 24-hour race

The 1985 season started with a sensational victory at 24 hours of Daytona. Boutsen partnered Bob Wollek, AJ Foyt and Al Unser in the Henn's Swap Shop Racing Porsche 956. They won with 17 laps advantage over second placed Holbert Racing's Porsche.

Boutsen participated in five races of the World Endurance Championship, driving Brun Motorsport's Porsche 962C and Porsche 956. His best result was third place at 1000 km of Mugello. The race which marked not only his career, but also a motorsport history, was the 1000 km of Spa on September 1st. Boutsen was sharing the car with Stefan Bellof, who was killed in a crash after a collision with Jacky Ickx.

First Formula One podium at Imola

In Formula One, Boutsen scored his first Formula One podium at the 1985 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Boutsen crossed the finish line third, behind Alain Prost and Elio de Angelis. Prost was disqualified after the race and Boutsen was promoted to second place. He collected points in three more races and finished 11th in the championship classification.

In 1986, the final F1 season with Arrows, Boutsen had an uncompetitive car but also retired in eight of sixteen races, to finish without points. The consolation for bad F1 season was the World Sports-Prototype championship title in the teams' category with Brun Motorsport.

In the drivers' classification, Boutsen finished 8th. His best result was a victory at 1000 km of Spa. At Le Mans 24-hour race, in his third participation, Boutsen was sharing the Brun Motorsport's Porsche 956 with Alain Ferte and Didier Theys, but they failed to finish.

Boutsen, Benetton, 1987, 1988, Grand Prix

Boutsen spent two seasons (1987 and 1988) driving for Benetton

Successful years with Benetton

In 1987, Boutsen moved to Benetton Formula team, which was in a fact the works team of Ford. Benetton B187 with Cosworth's turbo V6 engine was a competitive car and Boutsen finished five times in the top 5, including third place in the 1987 Australian Grand Prix, to take 8th place in the final standings, one place ahead of his teammate Teo Fabi.

For 1988, Benetton switched to normally aspirated Cosworth V8 engines. Boutsen took five podiums and scored points in 10 of 16 races to take 4th place at the end of the season. It remained his best career result in Formula One.

While driving for Ford in Formula One, Boutsen also took part in some touring car races with Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth. His best result was 2nd place at 24 hours of Spa in 1988, in the Eggenberger's car which he shared with Klaus Ludwig and Pierre Dieudonne.

Thierry Boutsen, Riccardo Patrese, 1989 Canadian Grand Prix, Williams Formula One seasons 1989 1990

Boutsen and Patrese at 1989 Canadian Grand Prix

Maiden F1 victory with Williams in Canada

After two successful F1 seasons, Boutsen was hired by Frank Williams and they signed a two-year contract. Boutsen gets a new Renault-powered Williams FW12C and in the sixth round of the championship, at Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, he scored his first ever Formula One victory. Boutsen won ahead of teammate Riccardo Patrese. Boutsen scored three more podiums before victorious closure of the season at the Australian Grand Prix. He finished the season at 5th place.

In 1990, Boutsen earned podiums at US Grand Prix at Phoenix street circuit and British Grand Prix at Silverstone before he took his third and final F1 victory at Hungaroring in August. He started from pole position and led the entire race to finish ahead of Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet.  At the end of the season, Boutsen was sixth in the points.

1990 Hungarian Grand Prix, Thierry Boutsen, Williams F1 team (1989, 1990)

1990 Hungarian Grand Prix - third and last F1 victory for Thierry Boutsen

Two seasons of bad results with Ligier

After Williams hired Nigel Mansell and decided to keep Patrese for 1991, Boutsen had to find another team. There were no free places among the top teams and he landed on to the Ligier team. The Lamborghini-powered car was uncompetitive and Boutsen finished the championship without points.  His best result was seventh place at San Marino and Monaco.

Thierry stayed with Ligier in 1992. The new Renault V10 engines improved Boutsen's performance and he succeed to gain points with fifth place at the season-closing race in Australia, so he was placed 14th in the final championship standings.

1993 Formula One, Jordan, Thierry Boutsen

Boutsen ended his F1 career driving for Jordan in 1993

Final F1 season with Jordan and first Le Mansd podium with Peugeot

At the age of 35, Boutsen was unable to find a seat for 1993, but Barclay sponsored him and secured him a place in the Jordan team from the third round of the season. Boutsen failed to score points in ten races and Eddie Jordan fired him after Belgian Grand Prix in August.

Earlier that year, in June, Boutsen finally made a notable result in his fourth attempt at Le Mans. He participated in the 1-2-3 victory for Peugeot Talbot Sport, driving the #1 Peugeot 905 Evo 1B to second place. His co-drivers were Yannick Dalmas and Teo Fabi.

1993 Le Mans podium

1993 24 hours of Le Mans, the first Le Mans podium for Boutsen (left on picture)

One more Le Mans podium with Porsche

Boutsen's F1 career was over and he switched to touring car races, competing with Eggenberger's Ford Mondeo Ghia in the 1994 ADAC Tourenwagen Cup. The highlight of the year was 24 hours of Le Mans race. Boutsen again reached the podium, finishing third overall and second in GT1 class. He was driving Dauer 962 LM of Le Mans Porsche Team. His co-drivers were Hans-Joachim Stuck and Danny Sullivan.

In 1995, Boutsen had a similar programme – touring car races during the year and Le Mans race in summer. At the 1995 edition of the famous endurance race, he was driving Kremer K8 Spyder for Porsche Kremer Racing, together with Hans-Joachim Stuck and Christophe Bouchut. They finished 6th overall and second in WSC class.

1996 Le Mans, Porsche 911 GT1

Stuck, Wollek and Boutsen took the class win at 1996 Le Mans with Porsche 911 GT1

With Porsche 911 GT1 to class win at Le Mans

Boutsen returned to Le Mans in 1996, with a fourth different car in four years. He was driving factory-entered Porsche 911 GT1, sharing the cockpit with Hans-Joachim Stuck and Bob Wollek. They finished second overall, behind Joest Racing's TWR Porsche WSC-95, but also took GT1 class victory.

It remained Boutsen's best result at Le Mans. He competed three more times in the following three years but failed to finish any of those three races. Boutsen, Stuck and Wollek raced with Porsche 911 GT1 again in 1997 but retired after 238 laps. In the same year, Boutsen competed with Porsche in the FIA GT1 Championship.

1999 Le Mans, Toyota GT-One

Toyota GT-One was Boutsen's last Le Mans car in 1999

Championship title for the end of a career

Porsche 911 GT1 was Boutsen's victorious car in the 1998 United States Road Racing Championship. He was driving for Champion Motors and after one win and four podiums in five races he won the championship title.

Last Le Mans race with Toyota

At Le Mans, Boutsen switched from Porsche to Toyota. In 1998, he shared Toyota GT-One with Ralf Kelleners and Geoff Lees, they retired after 330 laps. The 1999 race, again with Toyota GT-One, ended with a crash and after that Boutsen decided to completely retire from racing. He stayed in motorsport through his team, Boutsen Energy Racing, founded in 1988.

Thierry and Daniela Boutsen

Thierry and Daniela Boutsen

Boutsen Aviation - successful business since 1987

Instead of racing, Boutsen focused mostly to his new business. In 1997, Thierry founded Boutsen Aviation company, together with his wife Daniela. His racing team was also a family project, because he the co-founders were his brother-in-law Olivier Laine and partner Georges Kaczka.

Since then, Boutsen's racing team gained many titles in various competitions, from junior Formulas to national and international GT championships. The current team, named Boutsen Ginion Racing, is activein the Blancpain GT Series.

Photos: boutsen.com, f1fanatic.co.uk, Getty Images, motorsport.com,