Today we also wish former F1 driver Maurício Gugelmin – owner of one of the sport’s most-colourful racing helmets – a happy 49th birthday!
Gugelmin contested in 80 Grands Prix between 1988 and 1992, almost exclusively for the Leyton House team, where his Day-Glo helmet was easy to spot on the aqua-coloured cars. He achieved one podium (Brazil 1989) and one fastest lap in his F1 career.
The son of a well-to-do family from Joinville, Brazil, Maurício followed in the footsteps of his childhood friend Ayrton Senna and ventured to Europe in 1982 to contest in the Formula Ford championship.
By 1985, he’d graduated to the British F3 championship, driving for West Surrey Racing. He won three races that season and took the title.
An attempt to place him in Lotus alongside Ayrton Senna for 1986 fell through, so Mauricio headed to F3000, where he achieved a mixed bag of results in his two seasons there.
He moved into F1 in 1988, staying on with the Leyton House outfit for four seasons that could best be described as a mixture of highs (a podium on home soil in 1989) and lows (his spectacular crash at Paul Ricard in 1989).
With the team on the wane through 1991, Gugelmin signed with the Jordan team for 1992, hoping it could repeat the success it had achieved in its maiden season. Sadly, the team had accrued huge debts in spite of its achievements, and was forced to switch to the cheaper – and utterly gutless – Yamaha V12 engines for this year. It was a debacle and he ended his F1 career without a points finish in his final season.
Maurício moved to the IndyCar scene in 1993, and spent a successful period with the PacWest team from 1995 onwards, peaking with a win at Vancouver in 1997. He retired in 2001 and is now a racing consultant.
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