Pierluigi Martini, 1991 Paul Belmondo, 1994

Former F1 drivers Pierluigi Martini and Paul Belmondo are celebrating their respective birthdays today!

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Turning 50 today, Martini’s F1 career was synonymous with Minardi – indeed, aside from his single outing with Toleman and a 1992 season spent with Scuderia Italia Dallara, the rest of his career was spent with the little Faenza team, with whom he scored 18 of the team’s 38 championship points during its stint in F1.Martini even led the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix

Representing the team in three separate stints, he represented the team on its debut at the 1985 Brazilian GP, scored the team’s first point at the 1988 Detroit GP, the team’s sole lap leading a Grand Prix at the 1989 Portuguese GP (pictured right), and the team’s only front-row start at the 1990 United States GP.

In addition to this, he has twice recorded the team’s best-ever finish in a Grand Prix, picking up excellent 4th place results in the 1991 San Marino (pictured) and Portuguese Grands Prix.

After being dropped midway through 1995, Martini concentrated on sports car racing and contested the Le Mans 24 Hour race on several occasions, and won the 1999 race for BMW driving alongside Yannick Dalmas and Joachim Winkelhock.

Pierluigi Martini, 1995 After a hiatus from motorsport in the 2000’s, Martini returned to the motorsports fold in 2006 by competing in the Grand Prix Masters series alongside many of his retired F1 contemporaries. Proving he had plenty of speed – but rarely the right equipment in which to harness it – he finished sixth in his maiden outing at Qatar, less than 6 seconds behind race-winner Nigel Mansell.

Martini still retains an active role at Minardi functions and get-togethers, and recently appeared at a 30th anniversary function with Alessandro Nannini to commemorate the inception of the Minardi team into open-wheeler competition.

As the most successful driver of one of the true underdog teams, Martini embodies much about what I admire in Formula 1 and I’m sure you’ll appreciate how much of a hero he is to me. Of all the drivers whose interviews I would covet, he would be right up there as the interview I would most like to conduct. However, contacting him has proved elusive so far…

Click here for Pierluigi Martini’s complete F1 results.

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As the son of one of France’s most famous actors, Jean-Paul, Belmondo (turning 48 today) has often had to shrug off the accusations that he is little more than a ‘playboy’ in the sport.

A winner of the 1982 Pilote Elf, Belmondo plugged away in French Formula 3 for four years, proving relatively quick but not fast enough to run at the head of the pack.

Paul Belmondo, 1992 He eventually moved to Formula 3000 in 1987, scoring a fifth place at Pau, but the next four years were spent achieving little.

So it was a surprise to see him on the F1 entry list for the 1992 season – clearly plenty of funding had helped him get there – in the underfunded March team. But he settled in very quickly and performed surprisingly well.

Charged with bringing the car to the chequered flag at all costs, Belmondo finished every race he managed to qualify for, and drove his best two races at Germany and Hungary, which were ironically his last two with the team before his funds ran dry.

Not on the grid for 1993, Belmondo joined the fledgling Pacific team for the 1994 season. But the PR01 was far from competitive and a hugely frustrating season was spent on the sidelines as he racked up repeated failures to qualify.

Click here for Paul Belmondo’s complete F1 results.

[Images via F1 Nostalgia, Flickr, The Cahier Archive]

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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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