If you didn’t know that they’re father and son you might think that Patrick and Adrien Tambay were good buddies looking at photos of the last summer vacation they spent together. Again and again, a finger shoots out to point at a picture, there’s plenty of laughter, acknowledging nods from time to time and a lot of silent admiration. What the two are looking at together are scenes from a great motorsport career. 114 Formula 1 races Patrick Tambay contested between 1977 and 1986, winning two of them. Plus there are pictures of his son’s first steps in motorsport. For Adrien, who is just 22 years old, his father’s career is not a burden. It inspires him.
“Talking about the old days is very emotional for me,” Adrien Tambay freely admits. Looking at the youngster’s demeanor and speed today it’s hard to believe, but his path into professional motorsport was by no means straight-forward and mapped out. “It was a stony road, it was never particularly easy for me,” says Tambay. He says it in a way a person would tell a thrilling story. He doesn’t complain. Once it was a sports injury that threw him out of his rhythm in the middle of the season and then again he’d have to switch through several racing series within the same season because he wasn’t able to plan with a fixed budget. Highlights are part of the story as well. His victory after having started from the last grid position at his only GP3 race is one of the YouTube highlights among motorsport fans.
“My father helped me, has always supported me and given me a lot of advice. I’m very thankful to him for this,” says Tambay. “He was such a successful racer. And if he’s proud of me now, that really means a lot to me.” Dad certainly has a reason to be proud. At the beginning of 2012, his son has reached the aim of his dreams for the time being on starting as a factory driver in the DTM. He’s the young gun in the team, a part he really enjoys. “I feel comfortable in this role. I’m learning a lot and am happy about the chance to show people my abilities.” For example, how to clinch a podium in one’s first year and finishing in the top ten of the championship: in front of colleagues whose names are Scheider, Coulthard or Schumacher.
A professional arrival – and a personal one? That too, in a way. Tambay now lives in Lochau near Bregenz, Austria. Before that, he could have arguably been called a globetrotter: born in Paris, one year in Chamonix, back to Paris for ten years, then to a place near Cannes, from there on to Switzerland and a brief excursion to Aix-en-Provence, France. Having set up his home at Lake Constance he’s got many of his driver colleagues within reach, traveling to the Abt team in Kempten by car takes just a bit more than an hour.
Ideal prerequisites for being in even closer touch and to continue learning. And this is clearly Adrien Tambay’s aim. “My father has given me a lot of advice, for instance, how to tackle a race weekend or how to act in certain situations. The most important thing though is to stay true to yourself.” Because he has taken this to heart, he impresses in the DTM. His team values his reliability and honesty, journalists and fans his open-minded and easy-going nature. This is the demeanor of someone who knows where he comes from. A time journey through old photo albums with his father reminds him of it now and again.