He began his career in 1965 with mountain race, but soon with the help of his mechanic and later brother- Jacques Laffite in the French Formula 3, where he soon made an impression on a customer's Brabham and later on Matra and 1968, 1969 and 1971 respectively, the runner-up won. On Matra he drove in Formula 2, where he became European Champion in 1976, and also for the Matra sports car team.
His first attempt in Formula 1 took Jabouille the Grand Prix of France in Dijon in 1974, when he was reported for the underfunded British team of Frank Williams Racing Cars. Williams sat at the time a vehicle under the name Iso - Marlboro IR1 self-developed, which were not technically mature. This race car Jabouille was overwhelmed; he missed the qualification significantly by 0.7 seconds.
His racing debut in Formula 1 was Jabouille a year later at the Circuit Paul Ricard. This time he went for the better -equipped Team Tyrrell which started a third car alongside regular drivers Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler for Jabouille. Jabouille came here as a 12 finish.
1977 began the period of his career that would make him well known: He was hired as an insert and test pilot of the new Formula 1 team Renault. Renault dared the then seemingly unthinkable and sat as an engine a 1.5 liter V6 engine with turbocharging a. Under the competition ridicule ( " teapot " ) was the first year with numerous defects in the engine compartment disappointing, but already in the following year, were the first points be scored and 1979, finally came the breakthrough when Jabouille won the Grand Prix of France in Dijon. He repeated in 1980 at the Grand Prix of Austria this success, he also was in two years a total of six on the pole position.
The excellent test pilot Jabouille had made the Renault to a front -runner, but had the rocket -like speed of the Renault turbo its downside in many defects, the cost Jabouille numerous top rankings. At the Grand Prix of Canada in Montreal in October 1980 Jabouille suffered a serious accident so complicated bone fractures that his Formula 1 career had effectively ended. Although he attempted a comeback on 1981 Ligier - Talbot, had this commitment, however, after only three races to give up again. After a brief stint in the management of Ligier he returned to the sport completely back and opened a restaurant in Paris.
In 1984, he ventured a comeback as a race driver for Peugeot in the French Touring Car Championship. This brand he should remain faithful in the following years, first as a pilot in 1992 and 1993 in Le Mans and then as Peugeot Sport boss. In this role he led Peugeot engine partner McLaren in Formula 1, but he was released after two poor seasons in 1996 by its function. He built afterwards on his own sports car team JB Racing. In 2005 he played alongside Alain Prost race to the French GT series.