Little-known former F1 driver Mikko Kozarowitzky is turning 64 years old today!
While not the first Finnish driver to compete in Formula 1 (that honour goes to Leo Kinnunen), Kozarowitzky was on the shopping list of a host of Formula 1 teams in the lead-up to the 1977 Formula 1 season.
After negotiations with Ensign and Williams fell through, he eventually signed for the RAM March team.
The team had originally signed Kozarowitzky to drive in all of the European races that year, but Mikko was gazumped at the eleventh hour by the better-funded Dutch racer Boy Hayje, and so he had to sit on the sidelines for the time being.
But the team’s main sponsor, F&S Properties, was none too pleased with Hayje’s performances in the troublesome car, and encouraged RAM to expand to a two-car operation. With a little assistance from Marlboro Finland, the deal was done and Kozarowitzky travelled with the team to the Swedish Grand Prix to make his Formula 1 debut.
Having never sat in an F1 car until that point, few expected Kozarowitzky to impress. And while he missed the qualifying cut along with team-mate Hayje, his best qualifying lap was only two seconds slower than the Dutchman’s.
The team elected to skip the next race in France while it concentrated on making further refinements to its March chassis’ in the hope that these tweaks would help get its cars onto the grid.
Arriving at Silverstone for the following round, the British Grand Prix, the team feared that the closing wet weather could play to its advantage, if only it could get its cars out to run a banker lap in dry conditions before the heavens opened.
Kozarowitzky was ordered out onto the track and told to drive as fast as possible. Perhaps a little too anxious and eager, young Mikko crashed on his second tour and collided heavily with Rupert Keegan’s Hesketh, breaking the Finn’s hand.
That kind of injury would sideline a driver for the weekend, but with safety standards not what they are today, the team’s management insisted that Mikko take the spare car and try to qualify.
In too much pain to continue, Mikko quit the team on the spot and never raced in F1 again.
[Image via F1 Nostalgia]