Pierluigi Martini

Turning 51 today, Martini’s F1 career was synonymous with Minardi – indeed, aside from his single outing with Toleman and a 1992 season spent with Scuderia Italia Dallara, the rest of his career was spent with the little Faenza team, with whom he scored 18 of the team’s 38 championship points during its stint in F1.

Representing the team in three separate stints, he represented the team on its debut at the 1985 Brazilian GP, scored the team’s first point at the 1988 Detroit GP, the team’s sole lap leading a Grand Prix at the 1989 Portuguese GP, and the team’s only front-row start at the 1990 United States GP.

Pierluigi Martini, 1995 Brazilian GP (Getty)In addition to this, he has twice recorded the team’s best-ever finish in a Grand Prix, picking up excellent fourth-placed results in the 1991 San Marino and Portuguese Grands Prix.

After being dropped midway through 1995, Martini concentrated on sports car racing and contested the Le Mans 24 Hour race on several occasions, and won the 1999 race for BMW driving alongside Yannick Dalmas and Joachim Winkelhock.
After a hiatus from motorsport in the 2000’s, Martini returned to the motorsports fold in 2006 by competing in the Grand Prix Masters series alongside many of his retired F1 contemporaries. Proving he had plenty of speed – but rarely the right equipment in which to harness it – he finished sixth in his maiden outing at Qatar, less than six seconds behind race-winner Nigel Mansell.

As the most successful driver of one of the true underdog teams, Martini embodies much about what I admire in Formula 1 and I’m sure you’ll appreciate how much of a hero he is to me. Of all the drivers whose interviews I would covet, he would be right up there as the interview I would most like to conduct. However, contacting him has proved elusive so far…

[Images via Flickr, F1 Nostalgia, Getty Images, LAT, 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.