Zsolt Baumgartner

And we also wish a happy 31st birthday to Hungary’s sole F1 driver, Zsolt Baumgartner!

Zsolt made his karting debut at the age of 13, and had graduated to the German Formula Renault championship in 1997, and later the European series in 1999.

German F3 didn’t showcase his skills particularly well, and he moved to the Prost Junior F3000 team in 2001. Switches to the Nordic and Coloni team in subsequent seasons didn’t deliver results either, and in spite of a lack of results overall, his funding helped him buy a test driver role with Jordan at the German Grand Prix.

It was at the following round at Hungary that the team’s regular driver, Ralph Firman, suffered a heavy accident in practice, and Baumgartner was helicoptered straight into Firman’s seat in front of his home crowd, keeping the role for the Italian GP as well.

For 2004, he was on the grid full-time, with his sponsors buying a seat at Minardi, where he performed much better than expected in comparison to team-mate Gianmaria Bruni, picking up the team’s sole championship point by finishing 8th at Indianapolis.

[Original images via LAT, Sutton Images, 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.