|First race||Spanish Grand Prix||Montjuïc||April 27, 1975||Race results|
|Last race||Australian Grand Prix||Adelaide||October 26, 1986||Race results|
To describe Alan Jones as a no-nonsense character would be putting it mildly. He was the racer who so shaped the way that Sir Frank Williams and team co-founder Patrick Head think, appreciating neither wimps nor whingers. Jones was the driver with whom the team first made its breakthrough into the Formula One front line and the man who won the team its first World Championship in 1980. "He was a man's man," Williams said, and Jones' views on women's liberation would not go down well in today's more politically-correct world.
His father won the (then non-championship) Australian Grand Prix in his native Melbourne in 1959, and Jones Jnr wasted no time in starting racing himself, at first in karts and, as soon as he was old enough, in a Mini and later a Formula Two Cooper.
In 1967 he headed to England to further his career but it was an ill-fated trip as, unable to afford to race, he returned home. Three years later, he was back in Europe once more - he and his compatriot Brian McGuire financed their racing in Formula Three as they went along by selling used cars.
He continued a hand-to-mouth existence for three years, but after 1973 things got easier as Harry Stiller entered him in Formula Atlantic and in 1975 took him to Formula One only for Stiller to close the team down. Graham Hill's team snapped Jones up to replace the injured Rolf Stommelen and were rewarded when he finished fifth in the German Grand Prix.
He was renowned in F1 in 1976, largely because he drove a Surtees sponsored by condom manufacturer Durex, and apart from finishing second in the Race of Champions, his best result was fourth in Japan. However, although his reputation was growing he was released by the team at the end of the season after differences between driver and owner. He was in the USA in early 1977 when he landed a drive with Shadow after Tom Pryce was killed and, almost from nowhere, won the Austrian Grand Prix, despite having started from 14th on the grid.
But it was with Williams that his career took off. Driving their first purpose-built chassis in 1978, he produced some excellent drives. That season he alternated with drives for Haas-Hall in the Can-Am Championship, taking nine poles in ten races and winning five of them.
Things really took off in 1979 when he won four grands prix out of five at the tail-end of the season in Patrick Head's ground-effect FW07, finishing third in the drivers' championship. Indeed, only a lack of reliability in the first half of the season prevented an assault on the title.
No such mistakes were made in 1980, when five wins helped him storm to the title. He won seven grands prix all told, but Australia was non-championship and Spain was expunged. In the 11 races he finished, he was on the podium in ten.
In 1981 he could well have retained his title but for a battling relationship with team-mate Carlos Reutemann, his two wins bookending the season and in three races he finished just behind Reutemann. He finished third in the championship, four points behind Nelson Piquet and three behind Reutemann. He retired at the end of the year to return to "the best country on earth" to farm.
Along with his lucky red underpants he always wore on race days, he made a one-off return for Arrows in 1983, and a full-time one with Haas Lola in late 1985 and 1986. The car was poor, however, and he retired from Formula One for good. He continued racing sports and endurance events in Australia for another two decades.
Strengths and weaknesses
His brutal honesty enabled teams to get the best out of him and him to get the best from his cars. But too many simmering feuds with rivals - and team-mates - meant he sometimes failed to achieve what his natural ability should have allowed.
His battling world championship was secured in the penultimate race, but his determination was evident with his win in the season opener in Argentina where he overcame a crumbling track, a plastic bag lodged in his radiator and a spin or two for his sixth victory in eight races.
Lured back to drive for Arrows at the 1983 US Grand Prix, he was, by his own admission, unfit and overweight (""too many barbies and Fosters Lager") and also recovering from a broken thigh after falling off a horse. he retired after 30 laps as he was "feeling unwell".
"An obnoxious little bastard, a big-headed little prick." - Jones' view on himself as a youngster
"About as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle." - Jones on the Lola he drove in his final season in F1 in 1986
"He was great fun to be with. He never needed propping up mentally, because he was a very determined and bullish character. He didn't need any babysitting or hand-holding and that's the way it should be. It shouldn't be necessary for me to ask a driver if he is happy, or if he needs his underwear changed." Sir Frank Williams
March 17, 2013
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July 21, 1985
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November 2, 1982
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