His first Formula 1 race driving Tambay 1977 in Silverstone, his last, he played in 1986 in Adelaide. From a total of 114 races he won two, was five times on the pole position, reaching a total of 103 championship points. He worked for McLaren, Ligier, Theodore, Ferrari, Renault and Lola as a driver.
The charming and urbane Frenchman with the movie star look was one of the most popular phenomena in Formula 1 in the early 1980s. As a former ski racer and a graduate of Winfield Racing School at the Circuit Paul Ricard in 1971, he went his way through the French junior formulas to the Formula 2 European Championships, in which he indeed always were riding from 1974 to 1976 at the top, the title but missed. After a short and very successful use in the North American Can- Am series with the team of Carl Haas, where he won six out of seven races, he celebrated the Grand Prix of Great Britain 1977 in Silverstone made his Grand Prix debut in Theodore team in a constructed of Mo Nunn Ensign. Patrick Tambay impressed in his first Formula 1 season with a seventh place start in Austria and five scored championship points, so took him immediately McLaren for 1978 under contract. However, the new M26 was barely competitive, the season-ending total of only eight championship points were achieved. In the following season Tambay was prohibited by contract to perform pre- testing, he failed to achieve even a championship point. Thus disappointed, he moved in 1980 back to the Can- Am, where he could celebrate his second title after 1977.
The successes in North America enabled him to take a year later, again in Formula 1 foot. 1981 Theodore engaged the team of Hong Kong Chinese Teddy Yip the French. With the fairly mediocre seater he reached sixth place in the debut race in Long Beach and a seventh in the Grand Prix of Monaco. Even during the season, he joined the successful Ligier - Talbot team, in which, after the resignation of Jean -Pierre Jabouille a place had become free. However, Tambay was in the new car with not a single race to the finish, the last Grand Prix of the season in Las Vegas he crashed hard.
1982 should be a very varied year for Patrick Tambay. First, substitute for the injured Marc Surer at Arrows, it was the very first race of the new season at Kyalami for drivers strike over the new super licenses. Disgusted with the political bickering, Patrick Tambay took then again from Formula 1 back, but was committed after the fatal accident of Gilles Villeneuve at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder Ferrari as a replacement driver. The following two seasons with Ferrari should be the most successful of his Formula 1 career. At the Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheim, he won his first Grand Prix, at the same time he was by the accident of Didier Pironi to the team leader. 25 championship points submitted this year for seventh place overall. In the 1983 season he won the Grand Prix of San Marino at Imola, was four times on the pole position and finished with 40 points in the final fourth.
However, since it 's title chances could not realize he was replaced by Ferrari for 1984 by Michele Alboreto. He hired the Renault team and was the Grand Prix of France in Dijon in 1984 to the pole position. Some times, he landed spots on the podium, but the end of 1985, Renault withdrew from Formula 1. So he continued his old relations with Carl Haas, who was now come with the Beatrice - Lola team in Formula 1 and has been committed by him for 1986. The car was never really competitive and Tambay was able to achieve only two championship points, despite some good qualifying performance. By year end, the team was sold to Bernie Ecclestone. This ended Patrick Tambays Formula 1 career.
In 1989 he raced in the World Sportscar Championship on TWR Jaguar and finished fourth in Le Mans, in addition, he contested the Dakar Rally and ice racing in France, further he still works as a TV commentator and shortly saw him as a team member of the Larrousse team.