Patrick Tambay of France, who became a member of the Ferrari team three months ago after the death of Gilles Villeneuve, won his first Grand Prix yesterday, the West German Formula I race in Hockenheim. He averaged 132.46 mph.

Second was France's Rene Arnoux in a Renault. He was the only other driver on the same lap, more than 16 seconds behind. Finland's Keke Rosberg was third in a Williams.

The Ferrari team lost its No. 1 driver, Didier Pironi of France, who crashed in practice Saturday and was seriously injured.

Pironi, the world championship leader, was said to be out of danger after a six-hour operation to save his crushed right leg from amputation.

"Didier Pironi's accident gave me the motivation to win," Tambay said. "I had no trouble with the car, the tires were excellent and when Arnoux got closer, it was no surprise situation . . . Everything went perfectly and I had everything under control."

Pironi has 39 points in the championship standings; John Watson of Britain has 30 and Rosberg 27. Watson, in a McLaren, lost an almost certain third place when he crashed on the 37th lap. He was unhurt.

Only 11 of the 25 starters completed the 45 laps of the race, dominated in the early stages by Nelson Piquet of Brazil.

Piquet held a 25-second lead over Tambay when his Brabham was hit from behind by the ATS of Chilean Eliseo Salazar, whom he had just lapped. Both cars finished safely on the side of the track, where the incensed Piquet threw punches and tried to kick Salazar before the Chilean walked away.

"That was not my normal reaction, but Salazar had already cost me a hell of a lot of time," said Piquet. "I was just too upset" . . .

At Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway, actor Paul Newman led all the way in his first Trans-Am of 1982. Newman's winning time of 57:54.07 and average speed of 102.58 mph set a track record for the 99-mile race. Newman started seventh in his turbocharged Datsun 280 ZX but had gained the lead before the first turn. He finished 7.45 seconds ahead of Tom Gloy, in a Mustang.