Roy Salvadori, 1959 Stefano Modena, 1991

Today sees two former F1 drivers celebrate their respective birthdays today, with Roy Salvadori turning 89 and Stefano Modena turning 48.

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English-born to Italian parents, Salvadori’s motorsport career started in 1947 with an Alfa Romeo, whereupon he graduated to Formula 1 in 1952 via a succession of other Roy Savadori, 1960cars.

Strong outings in non-championship races with a Maserati 250F earned him a full-time drive with the works Cooper team, and later with the Yeoman Credit team, with whom he almost won the 1961 United States Grand Prix, retiring when his engine failed as he closed down leader Innes Ireland.

He retired from F1 at the end of 1962 and quit sports car racing a few years later, before moving into team management with the Cooper Maserati team in 1966-7.

Click here for Roy Salvadori’s complete F1 results.

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Known as one of Formula 1’s most superstitious drivers – he used to race wearing one glove inside-out, and once forced the team mechanics to swap team-mate Martin Brundle’s car to the other side of the garage as he felt it was unlucky to be on that side himself – Stefano’s F1 career failed to deliver on the promise that he showed in the junior formulae.

After winning the 1986 Monaco Formula 3 a race en route to the European F3 title, the F1 world quickly sat up and took notice of this tousle-haired Italian, who would go on to win the 1987 Formula 3000 title as well.

Stefano Modena, 1989 He made his F1 debut that year for Brabham at the season-ending Australian Grand Prix, retiring with exhaustion mid-race. He had impressed many that weekend, and was signed with the EuroBrun team for 1988.

It was a woeful baptism to F1, and the car was a pig that he could rarely qualify. Somehow, he managed to get into the re-formed Brabham team in 1989, and picked up a fine third place at Monaco.

Stefano switched to Tyrrell for 1991, and stunned the paddock when he qualified on the front row at Monaco. Sadly, a podium finish went begging when he slammed into the tunnel’s Armco barriers after Riccardo Patrese’s Williams dropped oil. It was a devastating outcome for Stefano, but he bounced back with a second-placed finish at Canada.

But, as Tyrrell’s form waned, so Stefano’s motivation went with it, and a year spent tooling around at the back of the field with Jordan in 1992 was the last the F1 world would see of him behind the wheel.

Click here for Stefano Modena’s complete F1 results.

[Images via F1-Facts and 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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