- August 27, 1954
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
The former British racing driver Derek Warwick is among drivers who collected the most starts in the Formula One without winning any race. Warwick recorded 147 Formula 1 starts between 1981 and 1993, scoring four podiums while driving for Renault in 1984.
However, he had an impressive career outside F1, winning both 24 hours of Le Mans and World Sportscar Championship title in 1992, while he was driving for Peugeot Talbot Sport.
As a teenager, Derek was Superstox champion
Derek Stanley Arthur Warwick was born on August 27, 1954, in New Alresford, UK. As a teenager, he began his career in British stock car racing under the Spedeworth organization. He won the 1971 Superstox English Championship and the 1973 World Championship at Wimbledon Stadium.
In 1975, Derek switched to open-wheel race cars, competing in the Formula Ford. During 1977, he competed both in the BRDC (British Racing Drivers' Club) and BARC (British Automobile Racing Club) Formula 3 Championships, finishing third in the BRDC competition.
Warwick was BRDC Formula 3 champion in 1978
The first major success followed in 1978 when Warwick won the BRDC F3 championship and finished second in the BARC F3 championship. In both competitions, his main rival was Nelson Piquet, who won the BARC title and finished second in the BRDC championship. Warwick also participated in two rounds of the European F3 championship, taking the victory at Donington Park.
In 1979, Warwick joined Theodore Racing to compete in the European Formula 2 Championship, but without notable results. In 1980, he stayed in Formula 2 but joined BP Toleman Group Motorsport. After eleven races, Warwick had one win and seven podiums and finished second in the points.
1981 - Formula One debut with Toleman
In 1981, Toleman entered Formula One Championship and Derek Warwick was one of two drivers. The other one was his rival from the previous season and F2 champion Brian Henton. The team skipped first three rounds outside Europe and debuted at San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in May 1981.
The Toleman TG181 car, powered by Hart 1.5 turbo engine, was unreliable and slow, so both Warwick and Henton failed to qualify for eleven races, participating in only one race each. Warwick had his F1 debut at Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas, where he started 22nd but retired due to gearbox failure after 43 laps.
First F1 points in 1983 season
After a catastrophic debut season, Warwick's and Tolemans's results slightly improved in 1982. He recorded only three failures in the qualifying. He started eleven races and finished 10th at German Grand Prix and 15th at French Grand Prix.
The real improvement followed in 1983. After nine retirements, Warwick scored points in the last four races of the season. He was close to the podium in two races, finishing fourth at Zandvoort and Kyalami.
Le Mans debut with Kremer Racing in 1983
During 1983, Warwick recorded his first participations in the sports car racing, including a debut at 24 hours of Le Mans. Together with Frank Jelinski and Patrick Gaillard, Warwick was driving the #22 Porsche CK-83 for Kremer Racing, but they retired after 76 laps. One more retirement with Kremer's Porsche followed at 1000 km of Spa.
The highlight of the season was the victory in the Brands Hatch 1000-km race, which was the part of the European Endurance Championship. Warwick was partnering John Fitzpatrick in Fitzpatrick's #11 Porsche 956.
1984 - four F1 podiums in the best season of the career
In 1984 Formula One season, Warwick joined Renault as a replacement for Alain Prost, who moved to McLaren. Warwick finally had a car capable of winning and it became his career-best F1 season. He scored four podiums but unfortunately didn't reach the highest step of the podium.
At the start of the season of Brazilian Grand Prix, Warwick was in the lead with ten laps to go, but he retired because of suspension failure. In the next two races, Warwick took podiums, finishing third at South African Grand Prix and second at Belgian Grand Prix. At Circuit Zolder, he crossed the finish line 42 seconds behind Ferrari's Michele Alboreto.
Second place at 1984 British Grand Prix
Later in the season, Warwick took two more podiums at British Grand Prix (2nd) and German Grand Prix (3rd). At his home race at Brands Hatch, he was again 42 seconds behind the winner, McLaren's Niki Lauda. After four podiums and ten retirements, Warwick finished 7th in the points of the 1984 championship, four places ahead of his teammate Patrick Tambay.
In the 1985 F1 season, Warwick stayed at Renault, rejecting the offer from Williams. His teammate Tambay scored two podiums while Warwick's best result was fifth place at Monaco Grand Prix and British Grand Prix. He was 14th in the points at the end of the season.
Daytona 24h debut and season in the World Sportscar Championship
Renault withdrew from F1 at the end of 1985, so Warwick had no team to lead. He focused on the sports car racing, participating for the first time at 24 hours of Daytona in February. He was a part of the BF Goodrich team, that had two Porsche 962 cars. After one car retired, Warwick joined the teammates in another car, finishing third overall. His co-drivers were Jochen Mass, Jim Busby and Darin Brassfield.
Returning from America, Warwick joined Tom Walkinshaw Racing to drive #51 Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-6 in the World Sportscar Championship. He participated in nine races, scoring one win (Silverstone) and seven podiums so he finished third in the championship, behind two Porsche drivers Derek Bell and Hans-Joachim Stuck. Warwick's partners in most races were Eddie Cheever and Jean-Louis Schlesser. At Le Mans, the trio retired after 239 laps.
Ecclestone invited Warwick to join Brabham team
However, the unfortunate fate of Elio de Angelis, who was killed in a testing accident in May, opened the door for Warwick to join Brabham Formula One team. The Brabham owner Bernie Ecclestone called Warwick to join the team at the Canadian Grand Prix in June.
Since no Grand Prix races clashed with Warwick's WSC commitments, he accepted the invitation and drove for Brabham until the end of the season. He scored no points, with seventh place at German Grand Prix as his best result.
Warwick and Cheever together in Arrows Megatron team
In 1987, Warwick and Eddie Cheever became teammates in the Arrows Megatron F1 team. Warwick collected three points, finishing fifth at Silverstone and sixth at Hungaroring and took 16th place in the final classification. A massive improvement followed in 1988 when Warwick was seven times in the points with #17 Arrows A10B-Megatron. He was close to the podiums four times, finishing fourth in Brazil, Monaco, Italy and Portugal. At Monza, he was just a half of a second behind third-placed Cheever. With 17 points, Warwick finished 8th in the classification, which was his second-best season in the F1 career.
In 1989, Arrows switched to Cosworth V8 engines, that were less reliable than previous Megatron engines, so Warwick recorded seven retirements. One of those retirements happened at Canadian Grand Prix where Warwick really wanted to win. However, he again missed victories and podiums and finished 10th in the points.
A season with Lotus
For the 1990 season, Warwick joined Lotus to drive Lamborghini-powered #11 Lotus 102, alongside another British driver Martin Donnelly. The glory days of the famous British team were over and Warwick succeeded to score points in two races only, at Canadian Grand Prix and Hungarian Grand Prix.
From 1991, Warwick again switched his interest to sports car racing. In February, he returned to Daytona International Speedway to compete in the 24-hour race with #2 Bud Light Jaguar XJR-12. His co-drivers were Davy Jones, Scott Pruett and Raul Boesel, but they didn't finish the race.
Runner-up in the 1991 World Sportscar Championship
For the rest of the season, Warwick raced with Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-14 in the World Sportscar Championship, finishing second in the points, behind teammate Teo Fabi. In eight races, Warwick was the winner three times (Monza, Silverstone and Nurburgring).
At 1991 24 hours of Le Mans, Warwick partnered John Nielsen and Andy Wallace in the #33 Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-12 and they finished 4th overall.
Le Mans victory and championship title in the same year
For 1992 WSC season, Warwick joined Peugeot Talbot Sport to drive exceptional Peugeot 905 Evo. With that car, he scored his greatest achievements in a career – victory at 24 hours of Le Mans and the victory in the World Sportscar Championship.
Warwick's partners at Le Mans were Yannick Dalmas and Mark Blundell. They scored the first ever Le Mans victory for Peugeot, ahead of Toyota TS010 and one more Peugeot 905 car. In the championship, Warwick and Dalmas scored two more wins at Silverstone and Suzuka.
The last Formula 1 season with Footwork
After two seasons in the endurance racing, Warwick made another significant switch and returned to Formula 1 in 1993, joining Footwork, to drive Honda-powered car alongside Aguri Suzuki. Warwick was in the points two times, finishing sixth at British Grand Prix and fourth at Hungarian Grand Prix.
His last F1 race was the Australian Grand Prix in November 1993. He ended F career with 147 starts (plus 15 DNQ attempts), four podiums and 71 points earned.
Crashing the BBC camera in the BTCC debut
After retiring from Formula One, he took a break from racing in 1994, but returned to the race tracks in 1995, joining Alfa Romeo factory team in the British Touring Car Championship. Alfa Romeo 155 TS wasn't a competitive car anymore, so Warwick struggled and reached Top 10 only six times in twenty-three races.
The most memorable moment happened in the season-opening race at Donington Park when Warwick crashed into BBC's TV camera. After finishing 19th in the points at the end of the season, he didn't return in 1996.
One more Le Mans attempt with experienced partners
He returned one more time to Circuit de la Sarthe, to compete in the 24-hour race with #4 Courage C36-Porsche, alongside Mario Andretti and Jan Lammers. The experienced crew finished 13th overall.
Competing with his own team in the British Touring Car Championship
In 1997, Warwick proved that he was the man of many returns, as he co-founded the Triple 8 Racing team and took over the BTCC operations of Vauxhall. Warwick returned to BTCC with #88 Vauxhall Vectra, alongside two-time BTCC champion John Cleland in the #8 Vectra.
Warwick finished 14th in the championship, two places behind Cleland. Triple Eight finished 8th in the teams' and manufacturers' standings.
Sixth place in the Bathurst 1000 debut
In October 1997, Warwick participated in the Bathurst 1000 race, which was the first one after a controversial split between two organizers, so there were two races that year, one for Australian V8 cars and the other one for other touring cars. Warwick and Peter Brock were driving factory-entered Vauxhall Vectra and they finished sixth.
1998 - one BTCC victory and fifth place at Bathurst
The 1998 BTCC season was much more competitive than a year before. Triple Eight changed the aerodynamic package and the Vectra scored three wins, two in the hands of Cleland and one victory with Warwick at the wheel. He was the winner at Knockhill. Warwick finished 9th in the points, the team was 5th in the classification.
In October, Warwick traveled again to Australia, together with Cleland, to participate again in the Bathurst 1000 race. They were driving Vauxhall Vectra to the fifth place finish. At the end of the season, Warwick retired one more time from racing and continued to be involved with the team for another three years.
Racing with other retirees in the Grand Prix Masters series
In 2005, the Grand Prix Masters series was founded, reserved for retired F1 drivers, so it was natural that Derek Warwick was one of the contestants. He competed in Kyalami race in 2005, finishing fifth, and took part in two races in 2006. At Qatar's Losail International Circuit he was fifth, at Silverstone, he was classified 15th. Warwick's final race in a career was his guest appearance in the Porsche Supercup race at Silverstone, in July 2007.
Post-racing life is also full of cars
In a post-race life, Warwick stayed involved into motorsport, serving as a steward in many Formula One races around the world and he took the presidency of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC).
He lives in Jersey, where he moved from the UK in 1985 with his wife and two daughters. Since 1989, he owns a Honda dealership in Jersey. Through the years, his business with cars expanded to five garages, but in 2003 he sold everything, keeping only a Jersey dealership.
Photos: wikipedia.org, carsencglobe.com, sniffermedia.com, poeticsofspeed.com, sportsracers.co.uk, lemans.org, jerseyeveningpost.com,