One-time Grand Prix driver Stéphane Sarrazin is celebrating his 37th birthday!
The Frenchman made his sole Grand Prix appearance at the 1999 Brazilian Grand Prix for the Minardi team, showing impressive speed until he had an enormous accident mid-race.
Sarrazin rose quickly through the junior motorsport categories and incredibly won on his Formula 3000 debut in 1998.
Backing from his homeland saw him appointed as Prost’s test driver for the 1999 season while he continued in F3000, and he earned a surprise call-up to the second round in Brazil when Prost graciously loaned him to Minardi, who were without a driver when Luca Badoer injured his wrist in a testing accident.
Despite having never sat in the Minardi or driven at Interlagos, Sarrazin sensationally qualified 17th on the grid, just one spot behind reigning CART champion Alex Zanardi.
A good race start and excellent race pace saw him climb up to eleventh in the race, by a front wing failure on lap 31 pitched him into the tyre barriers on the approach to the main straight. He rebounded back on to the circuit and spun a full six and a half times in just seconds before coming to a rest, fortunate not to have been collected by another unsighted car.
Incredibly, Sarrazin was never to get another F1 opportunity again, and although he continued in a testing capacity with Prost until 2001 and with Toyota in 2002, he moved on to rallying and sports car racing, where he has achieved considerable success in both fields.
A stalwart with Peugeot’s Le Mans squad (and now racing for its sister ORECA outfit), he won the 2007 LMS title with Pedro Lamy with three race wins, and has twice finished runner-up in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007 and 2009.
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