January 1 might be an auspicious birthday if you aspire to be an F1 driver, with the likes of Hans-Joachim Stuck, Jean-Marc Gounon, Jacky Ickx, ‘Gimax’ and Zsolt Baumgartner (L-R) all celebrating their birthdays today!
[Original images via F1-Facts, F1 Nostalgia, The Cahier Archive]
While the rest of the world is trying to recover after their mammoth celebrations to mark the end of one year and the start of another, spare a thought for these five gentlemen who have to continue the partying into another day because it’s also their birthday!
‘Gimax’ (73), Jacky Ickx (66), Hans-Joachim Stuck (60), Jean-Marc Gounon (48) and Zsolt Baumgartner (30) all mark the passage of another year today.
Milan-born Carlo Franchi assumed the racing pseudonym ‘Gimax’, a little-know-about Italian who contested a single championship entry with Surtees at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix, where he failed to qualify. He also contested one non-championship F1 race.
‘Gimax’ never raced under his real name, and the pseudonym has now been adopted by his son for his own motorsport career.
Click here to view ‘Gimax’s complete F1 results.
Jacky Ickx is widely regarded as one of Belgium’s best-ever racing driver, with 25 Formula 1 podiums and a record six 24 Hours of Le Mans victories.
A renowned wet weather specialist, Ickx was viewed as so talented that it seemed that a World Championship title would be a mere formality. As is sadly the case with too many gifted drivers, this was never the outcome, and his form faded as he drove a succession of less competitive cars in his later F1 career.
The son of a motorsport journalist, Jacky was a multiple motorcycle champion in his homeland before he started racing cars and was pitched into Formula 2 in 1966 under the watchful eye of Ken Tyrrell.
It wouldn’t take long for him to be noticed, as he qualified his Formula 2 Matra third-quickest at the 1967 German Grand Prix, although he was forced to start at the back of the grid with the other F2 machines. By lap 12, he was up to fourth before his suspension failed.
With everyone now interested, he had two outings with Cooper – scoring his first championship point next time out at Italy – and then joining Ferrari for the 1968 season.
In just his fifth race for the Scuderia, he scored his maiden F1 win with a tremendous drive in the wet at Rouen, and his consistent results kept him in the championship hunt until an accident in practice for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Contractual considerations saw him move to Brabham in 1969 in order for him to keep driving for the Gulf sports car team on the side, and he picked up two wins, before switching back to Ferrari for 1970 and landing a further three victories.
He stayed at Ferrari until 1973 and switched to Lotus for 1974, but he wasn’t delivering the results, and switched to intermittent drives with Williams, Wolf, Ensign and Ligier from 1976 onwards, retiring from F1 at the end of 1979.
He went on to become the circuit director at Spa-Francorchamps, but was lured back into sports car racing, twice winning the World Championship crown and adding a further two Le Mans victories. He also won the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1983, and finally retired from all motor racing in 1992.
Click here to view Jacky Ickx’s complete F1 results.
The son of the great pre-war Auto Union pilot of the same name, Stuck made his mark in touring cars with BMW and Ford in the early 1970s. It was with BMW’s support that he moved into Formula 2, finishing second in the European champion to Patrick Depailler in 1974.
His F1 debut came in the same year with March, and drove sporadically for them until 1977 while continuing to achieve fine results in touring cars and IMSA.
His big opportunity came to join Brabham in 1977 as the replacement for the deceased Carlos Pace, scoring two excellent podiums in Germany and Austria. At the rain-hit United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, he was looking on course to win until he spun off and into the barriers.
But this was as good as it got, for he switched to the Shadow team in 1978 and slowly slipped further down the grid, bringing down the curtain on his F1 career with ATS before moving back to sports cars, winning the World title in 1985 and twice winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1985-6. He won the DTM title in 1990 and still dabbles in motor races to this day.
Hans-Joachim now heads up Volkswagen’s motorsport interests globally, and is one of the key figures in the manufacturer’s possible decision to enter F1 in 2013 when the new eco-friendly engine regulations come into play.
Hans-Joachim also provided Richard’s F1 with an exclusive interview earlier in 2010, which you can read by clicking here.
Click here to view Hans-Joachim Stuck’s complete F1 results.
A winner of his national Formula 3 title in 1989, Gounon moved to Formula 3000 in 1990, and picked up a couple of wins in his three seasons there.
Funding from the French government helped him buy a seat at Minardi for the last two races of the 1993 season when the cash-strapped team dropped Christian Fittipaldi, but failed to finish either race.
He returned to F1 in mid-1994 with Simtek in the wake of Roland Ratzenberg’s death and the replacement driver, Andrea Montermini, breaking his ankle. On debut, he took the team to its highest-ever finish with ninth at the French Grand Prix, finishing four of the seven races he drove for the team until he was replaced by the better-funded Domenico Schiattarella.
Gounon later went on to achieve success in sports cars.
Click here to view Jean-Marc Gounon’s complete F1 results.
Hungary’s sole F1 driver, Zsolt Baumgartner, made his karting debut at the age of 13, and had graduated to the German Formula Renault championship in 1997, and later the European series in 1999.
German F3 didn’t showcase his skills particularly well, and he moved to the Prost Junior F3000 team in 2001. Switches to the Nordic and Coloni team in subsequent seasons didn’t deliver results either, and in spite of a lack of results overall, his funding helped him buy a test driver role with Jordan at the German Grand Prix.
It was at the following round at Hungary that the team’s regular driver, Ralph Firman, suffered a heavy accident in practice, and Baumgartner was helicoptered straight into Firman’s seat in front of his home crowd, keeping the role for the Italian GP as well.
For 2004, he was on the grid full-time, with his sponsors buying a seat at Minardi, where he performed much better than expected in comparison to team-mate Gianmaria Bruni, picking up the team’s sole championship point by finishing 8th at Indianapolis.
Click here to view Zsolt Baumgartner’s complete F1 results.