Former Grand Prix driver Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Schiattarella is celebrating his 44th birthday today.
One of a host of drivers to have made his way onto the Formula 1 grid in the mid-1990s by dint of sponsorship backing – as opposed to outright success in the junior categories – Milan-born Schiattarella competed in a handful of races for the cash-strapped Simtek team in 1994 and 1995.
‘Mimmo’ started racing in Italian Formula 4 in 1985, winning the championship the next year. He moved into the national Formula 3 championship, where he ploughed away for the next three years.
Towards the end of this stint, he was a front-running driver among the likes of Luca Badoer and Jacques Villeneuve. But he lost his chance of claiming the championship, when he rammed his title rival Giambattista Busi off the track, earning a black flag.
His F1 opportunity came when Simtek offered its second seat for the European Grand Prix at Jerez, and Schiattarella stumped up enough cash to take over the S941 from Jean-Marc Gounon. He acquitted himself reasonably well, and returned for the season-ending Australian Grand Prix while Taki Inoue took over at Japan.
He was signed to Simtek for the 1995 season, bankrolling his drive for the first half of the year. Despite a very promising car – he finished ninth at Argentina – the team collapsed amid a mountain of debt after just the fifth round of the championship.
[Images via F1 Nostalgia]