It’s Pedro Diniz’s 40th birthday today!
Despite a less than impressive pedigree, Pedro made his F1 debut with the back-of-the-grid Forti team in 1995, sometimes outpacing his much more experienced team-mate, Roberto Moreno.
His funds attracted Tom Walkinsaw’s attention, and he was placed with Ligier for 1996, achieving his first points with a pair of sixth places in Spain and Italy, in addition to surviving his car trying to become a bonfire at Argentina (shown in video). He followed Walkinsaw to Arrows for 1997, and impressed by beating his World Champion team-mate, Damon Hill, several times and achieving a fifth place at the Nurburgring.
A further season with Arrows saw two more points added to his tally, and he moved to Sauber for 1999 where he managed to out-score team-mate Jean Alesi with a trio of sixth-place finishes. He survived a mammoth accident at the European Grand Prix, emerging unhurt after being tipped into a barrel-roll.
The following season with Sauber earned zero points and a reputation for particularly crass manners when being lapped or overtaken – the accidents he caused very much blotted a previously clean reputation – and Pedro was without a drive for 2001.
The family decided to buy a 40% stake in the Prost team in 2001, and Pedro took on a management role within the team before Alain Prost inevitably fell out with the Diniz’s. Rather than relinquish complete control to the Brazilian millionaires, Alain closed up the team and with it went the combined Ligier/Prost history spanning over 20 years. A shame…