Francois Guiter, of Elf, is a very calm man, not given to displaying emotion. His company has known Formula One success in the past, with Tyrrell over many years, and, latterly, with Ligier. For all that, he was clearly moved as he returned to the Elf Club des Pilotes shortly after the finish of the French Grand Prix. A brief smile, then a single, quiet, request: "Champagne" ... Victory in France for a French driver, with a French chassis, engine, tyres, fuel. French everything.
And the Moet flowed. Throughout the paddock, magnums ejaculated like fire hydrants as delirious Renault mechanics showered each other - and anyone else around - with the stuff. "I am pleased; it has been a long project," M. Guiter had said. Jean-Pierre Jabouille and the turbocharged RS11 had done it. Better yet, they had won fair and square, for this was no inherited victory.
Jabouille was the fastest man at Dijon-Prenois from the very beginning of practice, and took a comfortable pole. Less readily anticipated, though, was the presence of Rene Arnoux's sister car on the front row. In the matter of sheer pace around Dijon last weekend, the yellow cars stood alone.