Paolo Barilla Mauricio Gugelmin, 1991

The Richard’s F1 team sends its happy birthday wishes to former F1 pilots Paolo Barilla (50 today) and Maurício Gugelmin (48 today)!

Read about their fascinating careers below…

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An heir to – and now co-director of – the Barilla pasta empire, Barilla decided at the age of fourteen that he wanted to become a racing driver. After success in karting, he graduated through the junior ranks, winning races in his maiden season of Italian F3 at the age of 20.

He progressed to Formula 2 driving for Minardi in 1982 alongside Alessandro Nannini, but it was in sports cars that he found his niche, winning the 1985 Le Mans 24 Hours with Klaus Ludwig and ‘John Winter’ in a Joest Porsche.

His desire to become an F1 driver still lingered, and he tested for the Toleman team that year. Having won more races in IMSA and the World Sportcar Championship, he moved to Japan, dabbling in Group C, Formula 3000 and the World Touring Car Championship.

Paolo Barilla, 1990 It was as a spectator at Suzuka that he bravely rescued Denmark’s Kris Nissen from his burning car, diving into the flames in his civvies to rescue a fellow driver.

Barilla was signed as Minardi’s test driver for 1989, standing in at the 1989 Japanese GP for the injured Pierluigi Martini. He would qualify 19th on debut – impressive in a field of 39 entrants – but retired with a clutch failure.

Barilla drove full-time for the Faenza team the following year, but he was never on Martini’s pace and was shown the door before the season’s end where he was replaced by Gianni Morbidelli.

Despite some testing work for Bridgestone in a Reynard F1 prototype, Paolo’s motorsport career wound down fairly quickly after that and he returned to the family empire, overseeing the company’s personal sponsorship of Alessandro Zanardi as part of its push into the US market.

Paolo Barilla - Complete F1 Results

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Gugelmin contested in 80 Grands Prix between 1988 and 1992, almost exclusively for the Leyton House team, where his dayglo helmet was easy to spot on the aqua-coloured cars. He achieved one podium (Brazil 1989) and one fastest lap in his F1 career.

The son of a well-to-do family in Joinville, Brazil, Gugelmin followed in the footsteps of his childhood friend Ayrton Senna and ventured to Europe in 1982 to contest in the Formula Ford championship.

By 1985, he’d graduated to the British F3 championship, driving for West Surrey Racing. He won three races that season and took the title.

An attempt to place him in Lotus alongside Ayrton Senna for 1986 fell through, so Mauricio headed to F3000, where he achieved a mixed bag of results in his two seasons there.

Gugelmin’s first-corner roll at the 1989 French GP

He graduated to F1 in 1988, staying on with the Leyton House outfit for four seasons that could best be described as a mixture of highs (a podium on home soil in 1989) and lows (his spectacular crash at Paul Ricard in 1989).

With the team on the wane through 1991, Gugelmin signed with the Jordan team for 1992, hoping it could repeat the success it had achieved in its maiden season. Sadly, the team had accrued huge debts in spite of its achievements, and was forced to switch to the cheaper – and utterly gutless – Yamaha V12 engines for this year. It was a debacle and he ended his F1 career without a points finish in his final season.

Marucio moved to the IndyCar scene in 1993, and spent a successful period with the PacWest team from 1995 onwards, peaking with a win at Vancouver in 1997. He retired in 2001 and is now a racing consultant.

Click here for Mauricio Gugelmin’s complete F1 results.

[Images via F1 Nostalgia, Skyscraper Pictures and Tifosi Club]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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