Tarso Marques

Born into a well-off Brazilian family, Tarso was a driver who, in his early years, had the making of a motorsport star, but whose prospects faded badly on his ascent to Formula 1 – perhaps in part due to his entire career being spent with Minardi…

He began karting at the age of 11, achieving considerable success in regional championships before making his open-wheeler debut in Formula Chevrolet at the age of 16.

He won the title first time out – beating future IndyCar stars Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan – and leaped into South American F3, where he became the youngest driver in history to win a Formula 3 race, aged only 17.

From there, he moved into Formula 3000 in 1994 and raced for the Vortex team, switching to the DAMS outfit the following year and becoming the youngest-ever F3000 winner with victory at Estoril.

But how on earth his motorsport career didn’t take off beyond that is a mystery, and 26 outings with Minardi over a six-year period with not a single championship point perhaps doesn’t do his record justice. He debuted with the little Italian team in 1996 at the two South American rounds, and returned with the outfit mid-season in 1997 for a further ten races.

Out of a drive for 1998, he moved to the United States and was picked up the Penske team for a few outings in the 1999 CART series, which extended to a near-full-time campaign with Dale Coyne the following year. His best CART finish was ninth.

Back with the re-formed Minardi in 2001 – now under the ownership of Paul Stoddart – Marques was drafted in to be the experienced guide for a rookie called Fernando Alonso. But the young Spaniard summarily outperformed Marques – who swiftly started to receive the lower-spec equipment – and the Brazilian made way late in the season when it became clear that the team needed more funding.

After two more unimpressive seasons in ChampCar – where he only drove four races – Marques headed to the world of touring and stock car racing in his native South America, where he has remained ever since.

[Images via LAT, Sutton Images, Tarso Marques, XPB]

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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.