Patrese set a new record for the longest F1 career when he passed Graham Hill and Jacques Laffite’s total of 176 participations at Brazil in 1989. This was 12 years after his debut for Shadow at Monaco in 1977. He defected to Arrows in 1978 and his reputation for erratic driving led him to be blamed – many said unfairly – by James Hunt and others for causing the accident that killed Ronnie Peterson at Monza in 1978.
He remained with Arrows until 1982, when he partnered Nelson Piquet at Brabham and won a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix. He won his last race for Brabham at South Africa the following year and then spent two wasted seasons with Alfa Romeo and back at Brabham – both teams in their death throes.
1989 was his second season with Williams but there were still no more wins until he finally won at Imola in 1990 – a record seven years since his last win. He had the upper hand on Nigel Mansell for the early part of 1991 but the Englishman turned the tables and won the 1992 championship with nine wins to Patrese’s one. He joined Benetton, mistakenly believing there to be no room for him at Williams in 1993. After a pummelling at the hands of Michael Schumacher he quit Benetton with a year still left on his contract. He later raced in the now-defunct Grand Prix Masters series.