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Tributes paid to Clay Regazzoni

Clay Regazzoni (left) with Jackie Stewart in a photograph from 1977

(Keystone)

The motor racing world has been paying tribute to Swiss former Formula One driver Clay Regazzoni, who was killed in a road accident on Friday.

Regazzoni, aged 67, who was paralysed after suffering spinal damage in the United States Grand Prix West in Long Beach in 1980, died in a collision near Parma in Italy.

Tributes have come from both the Williams and Ferrari teams in which Regazzoni enjoyed the high points of his Grand Prix career.

The Swiss, who hailed from Lugano in the southern canton of Ticino, gave Williams their first grand victory in Britain in 1979 and won four races for Ferrari.

"Clay won the very first Grand Prix for the Williams team in 1979 at Silverstone," said team boss Frank Williams. "This was probably the most important event ever to occur in the history of our time in Formula One.

"He was a gentleman and always a pleasure to have with us in the team. [Co-owner] Patrick [Head] and I and other team members will always remember him."

Courage and generosity

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said Regazzoni's death had "robbed us of a man of courage and generosity who lived his life demonstrating those values".

"I remember him as one of my drivers during unforgettable times, but also as a true supporter of Ferrari. For him, races had to be tackled with boldness and at the limit, from the first to final lap."

Christened Gianclaudio Giuseppe but known quite simply as Clay, Regazzoni made his Formula One debut with Enzo Ferrari's star team at the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix, in which he finished fourth.

In only his fifth race, he beat Jackie Stewart into second place in Ferrari's home Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He finished third overall in the championship despite competing in just eight races.

He drove for BRM for a season in 1973 before returning to Ferrari in 1974 as team mate to future triple world champion Niki Lauda.

Regazzoni was runner-up for Ferrari in the 1974 championship and in 1975 he again won the Italian Grand Prix with Ferrari.

Competitive car

In 1977 and 1978 Regazzoni drove for Ensign and Shadow respectively before returning to a competitive car with Williams as team mate to Australian Alan Jones in 1979.

Despite securing the future world champions' first win in their home race, he was replaced the following year by Argentine Carlos Reutemann.

Regazzoni's accident in 1980, when he suffered brake failure and hit the barriers at speed, ended his Formula One career after 132 Formula One races.

However, he continued racing in sportscars equipped with hand controls and also in the Dakar Rally.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Clay Regazzoni was born in Lugano on September 5, 1939.
He was considered one of the best racing drivers never to have been world champion.
During his Formula One career, he obtained five pole positions and collected more than 200 world championship points.
After his career ended, Regazzoni spent much of his time promoting the integration of handicapped people into society.

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