Turning 49 today, Paul Belmondo – sone of the late famous French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo – has often had to shrug off the accusations that he is little more than a ‘playboy racer’ in the world of motorsport.
A winner of the 1982 Pilote Elf, Belmondo plugged away in French Formula 3 for four years, proving relatively quick but not fast enough to run at the head of the pack.
He eventually moved to Formula 3000 in 1987, scoring a fifth place at Pau, but the next four years were spent achieving little.
So it was a surprise to see him on the F1 entry list for the 1992 season – clearly plenty of funding had helped him get there – in the underfunded March team. But he settled in very quickly and performed surprisingly well.
Charged with bringing the car to the chequered flag at all costs, Belmondo finished every race he managed to qualify for, and drove his best two races at Germany and Hungary, which were ironically his last two with the team before his funds ran dry.
Not on the grid for 1993, Belmondo joined the fledgling Pacific team for the 1994 season. But the PR01 was far from competitive and a hugely frustrating season was spent on the sidelines as he racked up repeated failures to qualify.
Post-F1, Belmondo switched his focus to GT and endurance racing, engaging in duties both behind the steering wheel and on the pit wall as the owner of Paul Belmondo Racing.
Today, he’s followed in his father’s footsteps into the world of acting, but he still dabbles in the occasional bout of motorsport as a competitor in the Dakar rallies and Andros Trophy ice-racing events.