Former F1 drivers Liuz Bueno and Piercarlo Ghinzani are celebrating their respective birthdays today!
Turning 74 today, Bueno was a two-time touring car champion in his native Brazil and regarded by many as an equal to Emerson Fittipaldi in terms of talent. He ventured to England in 1969 to race in Formula Ford with a government grant, finishing with five wins in his first season.
He returned home the following year and continued in domestic racing, only to be offered a full-time ride back in Europe for the following year, which he was forced to decline when unable to raise the sufficient finances.
However, Bueno was to compete in the inaugural non-championship Brazilian Grand Prix in a works March 721 in 1972 (finishing sixth), and he returned the following year to compete in the World Championship round for Surtees, qualifying slowest and finishing 12th after a lengthy pit stop to cure an electrical problem.
Turning 59 today, Piercarlo once very aptly said: “It is better to be at the back in Formula 1 than not be in Formula 1 at all.” We certainly couldn’t have put it better ourselves!
And that’s pretty much where the Bergamo-born driver stayed during his nine-season F1 career, at the back of the grid with tail-end teams.
It was perhaps more by the clinching of sponsorship deals than outright pace that Piercarlo was able to extend his F1 career for so long, and it took him an awfully long time to get there too. Starting in motor racing in 1970, it took him until 1973 before he broke into Formula 3, and a further four years before he won the European title and graduated to Formula 2.
Called in as a last-minute replacement at Osella in 1981, he started what would be a long, although not very fulfilling, association with the little Italian team. The only points finish of his career came at the attrition-hit 1984 Dallas Grand Prix, where he survived on the crumbling track to finish fifth.
He briefly switched to Toleman in 1985, but returned to Osella again in 1986, switched to Ligier for 1987, Zakspeed for 1988, and finally again to Osella for his last season in 1989.
On the basis of his equipment, Piercarlo was never going to feature at the pointy end of the field – the highest he ever qualified was 13th – and he certainly was never destined to lead a race, ranking tenth on the all time list of our ‘Never Led a Race’ top-ten feature.
Two points from 112 entries – including a mammoth 36 times where he failed to make the grid – cast Piercarlo as one of F1’s all-time tail-end heroes.
Piercarlo is still active in motorsport circles, with his Team Ghinzani outfit running teams in several European feeder categories. He was also the seat holder for the Italian entry in the A1GP series.
Click here to view Piercarlo Ghinzani’s complete F1 results.