Teams Albert François Cevert Goldenberg
Races: 47Francois Cevert: The Man Who Made a Name for HimselfBy Jeremy McMullenPage: 1
Career Points: 89
Francois Cevert was about to emerge from the shadow of a champion. He was about to make a name for himself. Unfortunately, on a beautiful fall day amidst the pastoral surroundings of New York State's Finger Lakes region, the name Albert Francois Cevert would be added to a lengthening list of grand prix drivers to have died while at the wheel of their cars.
At a time of intense of revolution, during the long dark days of Russia's early 20th century history, one's name would become very important. It had the potential to mean either life or death. Albert Francois Cevert wasn't even a passing thought to Charles Goldenberg, a young Russian-Jew. The Jewish people were facing increasing persecution and many families would brave the unknown and leave their native land to find hope somewhere else. Charles Goldenberg would accompany his parents to Paris, France.
But the persecution would follow them. Goldenberg and his family had enjoyed a couple of decades of relative peace. However, with the outbreak of World War II, the threat against the Jewish people would return. Nazi Germany was on the move through Europe and France had become occupied. Charles, now in his late thirties, had heard the stories of what life in Russian had been like, and he realized the same threat was coming his way from the Nazis. Charles had a decision to make. Avoiding deportation to Poland, Charles would join the French Resistance. But Charles had more than just himself to think about at the time.
By the 1930s, Goldenberg had become a successful Parisian jeweler and had married. He would marry Huguette Cevert. And while part of the French Resistance, the family would remain around Paris. This was dangerous for a Jew given the occupation of the Nazis. Therefore, to avoid trouble he, and the rest of the children he was to have, would be registered with Huguette's maiden-name. Therefore, the family would become known as Cevert.
In February of 1944, Huguette would give birth to Albert Francois Cevert. The libertation of Paris would be just a matter of months later. Still a little uneasy about the whole situation, Charles, and the family, would continue to go by Cevert for a period of time. After a while, the family had reason to feel secure once again. Therefore, Charles wanted to switch the registration of his children's names back to his own surname. However, by this time the children had grown up to a degree and become used to being known as Cevert. As a result, Cevert would remain.Never really caring much for his first name, Francois would drop Albert and just go by his middle name. At the time he was in his middle-teens his sister would marry the racing driver Jean-Pierre Beltoise. As a result of the marriage, Francois would accompany his sister Jacqueline to many races. It would be at this time that motor racing entered the veins of young Francois, and, after his two year mandatory service in the military, he would enter the Volant Shell competition in 1966.
At the same time Cevert had entered the Volant Shell competition he had taken part in a training course at the Le Mans school and the racing school at Magny-Cours. However, the Volant Shell competition would still be his best option for getting into racing full-time. The winner of the Volant Shell competition would receive a prize of a fully-sponsored season in French Formula 3. And although the extent of his racing experience included just scooters against Parisian friends and some karting, Cevert would beat Patrick Depailler in the competition and claimed the prize. This would be one of the first examples of the young Frenchman's ability to adapt and be competitive in spite of a lack of experience.
|1967 would see Cevert take advantage of his success in the Volant Shell competition. Driving an Alpine-Renault, Cevert would experience an uphill battle. Showing himself to be naturally talented, and yet, still lacking that little extra bit of guidance, Francois would struggle during that first year. He lacked experience setting up and tweaking cars to allow his true God-given talent to shine.|
|1973||005||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1973||Tyrrell 006||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1972||Tyrrell 002||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1972||003||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1972||Tyrrell 004||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1972||Tyrrell 006||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1972||005||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1971||001||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1971||Tyrrell 002||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1971||003||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1970||3/1/701||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1970||001||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8|
|1969||TF69||Ford Cosworth FVA 1.6 L4|
Proving his lack of experience was not an obstacle, Francois would receive an offer for a factory drive by the end of the season. Turning down the factory ride would prove his talent all the more when he would come to race a much more competitive Tecno to the championship the following year. In that season Cevert would just beat out Jean-Pierre Jabouille, a fellow Frenchman with whom Cevert would be on the same Matra-Simca team a couple of times at Le Mans.
Cevert's talent was undeniable and it would lead to Francois making his Formula 2 debut with the Tecno Formula 2 team in 1969. As with just about every other level of motor racing Cevert had taken part, his stay in Formula 2 would be brief, and mostly because of one occasion.
Cevert would finish his first season in Formula 2 with a 3rd in the driver standings. However, it would be at a Formula 2 race at Crystal Palace that would set the trajectory of his career straight toward Formula One.Many of the best of Formula One would take part in Formula 2 races when they could. This meant that, in many ways, the competition in Formula 2 was just as tough as in Formula One. And it was during a Formula 2 race at Crystal Palace that Jackie Stewart found himself following along behind Cevert. 1969 was to be the first of Jackie Stewart's World Championships and everyone would have expected him to glide right on by the young Frenchman. This would not be the case. Stewart would struggle to pass Cevert and would take a mental note of it. Some time later, Stewart would mention his struggles to his team manager Ken Tyrrell and would tell him to keep an eye on him.
Unaware of Stewart's respect for his driving abilities, Cevert carried on through his 1969 season. Not only would he finish in the top five in the driver standings by the end of the year, he would also take part in his first Formula One race, albeit in the Formula 2 class, when he took part in the German Grand Prix held at the Nurburgring.
Cevert had made Stewart aware of his presence at Crystal Palace. One year later, Cevert would find himself in the shadow of the then World Champion. But more importantly, he would now have the tutor, the master, he needed to help him become what he truly could be, and thereby, make a name for himself.
The 1970 season would see Johnny Servoz-Gavin suddenly retire from Ken Tyrrell's Formula One team. Tyrrell was without a driver and Stewart without a teammate. This would bring about a very important moment in Cevert's and Formula One's history. While it was suggested the French oil company Elf had something to do without, Tyrrell would later admit that it was really because of what Stewart had said about Cevert at Crystal Palace that led Ken to hire Francois to be Stewart's teammate for the remainder of the 1970 season.
Almost immediately the two drivers formed a strong friendship. At the racetrack it was much more of a master/student relationship, which is exactly what Cevert needed and wanted. It would become clear he was taking what his World Champion friend and teammate had to say and balance that with his own senses as he would steadily began to draw closer and closer to Stewart in lap times over the course of the season.
Being a teammate of Jackie Stewart also made the French motor racing world quick to snatch him up in order to drive in the nation's most famous auto race. And in June of 1970, Cevert would drive in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans. To the French fans it was a beautiful match. The talented young French driver would drive for the French Equipe Matra-Simca team. However, his co-driver in the race would be Australia's Jack Brabham.
The Equipe Matra-Simca team was something of family to Cevert as one of the sister cars would have Jean-Pierre Jabouille, the driver he beat for the French Formula 3 title in 1968, at the wheel. The car would also have Patrick Depailler as one of the co-drivers. Depailler was the one Cevert beat out for the Volant Shell sponsorship. At the wheel of the other sister car would be his brother-in-law, Jean-Pierre Beltoise. And although the pairing of Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo would be considered the number one car, it would be Brabham and Cevert that would actually spend some time in the lead of the race before failed piston rings ended the race. This, of course, was the famed race in which the movie Le Mans was filmed.
Just like Le Mans, Cevert's first season in Formula One would certainly be a learning experience more than anything else. However, Francois would continually improve over the course of the season and would eventually earn a single championship point with his 6th place result at the Italian Grand Prix.
The following year, 1971, would see Cevert truly become one of the elite in Formula One. Although Stewart would dominate the season with the Tyrrell 003 and Cosworth engine, Francois would enjoy the benefits of the same package and would routinely run up toward the front of the field along with Jackie. Page: 1 Sources:
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'Formula One-F1 DB: Francois Cevert', (http://www.f1db.com/forums/printthread.php?t=2035&page=97&pp=10). Formula 1 Database. http://www.f1db.com/forums/printthread.php?t=2035&page=97&pp=10. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
Diepraam, Mattijs. 'Ken's Team at the Height of its Power', (http://8w.forix.com/tyrrell73.html). 8W: The Stories Behind Motor Racing Facts and Fiction. http://8w.forix.com/tyrrell73.html. Retrieved 21 February, 2012.
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