The fourth former F1 driver to celebrate his birthday on New Year’s Day is former Minardi and Simtek pilot Jean-Marc Gounon, who turns 49 today!
A winner of his national Formula 3 title in 1989, Gounon moved to Formula 3000 in 1990, and picked up a couple of wins in his three seasons there.
Funding from the French government helped him buy a seat at Minardi for the last two races of the 1993 season when the cash-strapped team dropped Christian Fittipaldi, but failed to finish either race.
He returned to F1 in mid-1994 with Simtek in the wake of Roland Ratzenberger’s death and the replacement driver, Andrea Montermini, breaking his ankle. On debut, he took the team to its highest-ever finish with ninth at the French Grand Prix, finishing four of the seven races he drove for the team until he was replaced by the better-funded Domenico Schiattarella.
Gounon later went on to achieve success in sports cars.