The very versatile Massimiliano ‘Max’ Papis is celebrating his 42nd birthday today.
The Italian contested a single part-season in Formula 1 with Footwork in 1995, standing in for Gianni Morbidelli when the squad was in need of bolstering its coffers mid-season.
Despite his impressive pedigree in Formula 3 and Formula 3000, he was not competitive in the unfamiliar car, and suffered a couple of particularly unusual accidents – most notably being a suspension failure after he hit the pit wall following a pit stop at the British Grand Prix.
Papis would have scored a point on home soil at the Italian Grand Prix, only to be overtaken by Jean-Christophe Boullion’s Sauber on the final lap, and he was dropped from the line-up for Morbidelli to return after two more races.
Papis moved to the CART championship in 1996, joining the Arcerio-Wells squad following the death of Jeff Krosnoff. Two further seasons with the team produced little more than a single top-five finish, and he found better results when he joined the Rahal team in 1999.
After achieving three podium finishes in the back of the 1999 season, he won the season-opening round at Miami the following year, and earned two further wins the year after that. In the midst of the CART-IRL split, Papis decided enough was enough, and ventured off to NASCAR.