Lavaggi Giovanni Lavaggi, 1996 Hungarian Grand Prix Lavaggi

Full Name: Giovanni Lavaggi
Nationality: Italian
Born: 18 February 1958, Augusta (ITA)

First GP: 1995 German Grand Prix
Last GP: 1996 Japanese Grand Prix

Entries: 10 Grands Prix: 7 Non-starts: 3
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 10th Best Grid: 20th
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 0 Retirements: 6

1984 Italian FIAT Panda Championship, 2nd overall
1992 Formula 1, March F1 Team, Test Driver
1993 Interserie Championship, Kremer Porsche CK7, 6 wins, 1st overall
1994 CART World Series, Leader Cards Lola Chevrolet, 4 entries, 2 DNQ, 38th overall
1995 Daytona 24 Hours, Kremer Porsche Spyder K8, 1st overall
  Formula 1, Pacific Ford V8 PR02, 4 races, 0 points, Not Classified
1996 Formula 1, Minardi Ford V8 M195B, 6 entries, 3 DNQ, 3 races, 0 points, Not Classified
1999 ISRS, GLV Brums Ferrari 333SP, 1 win, 10th overall
2001 FIA World Sportscar Championship, GLV Brums Ferrari 333SP, 1 win, 16th overall

Giovanni Lavaggi

An Italian count and a qualified engineer, Lavaggi competed in 10 Grands Prix (with 3 DNQs) between in 1995 and 1996 for the cash-strapped Pacific and Minardi teams.

The Italian’s principal motor racing success have been in sports cars – he won the Daytona 24-Hour classic in 1995 at the wheel of a Porsche Spyder K8. In spite of his lack of F1 success, he has had great success in prototype and sports car racing.

His F1 foray started in 1992 as a paying test driver for the woefully underfinanced March team. He also had a brief and very unsuccessful stint in CART.

Becoming the second-oldest driver to debut in F1 since 1977, his first outing at the 1995 German GP with Pacific saw him qualify bog last and over 10 seconds slower than pole-sitter Damon Hill. The remaining three outings with the team saw a DNF on each occasion, and he was the only driver in 1995 not to finish a single race he contested.

Minardi threw him a lifeline midway in 1996 when its finances were looking perilous, and he made his return at Hockenheim, but this time he had the 107% qualifying rule to contend with! His highest F1 finish came with a tenth (8 laps down after spinning out in the closing stages) at Hungary, and he DNQ’d again at Spa.

It was at Portugal where he ensured his cult status. Trundling around at the back of the field, he got himself involved in one of the overtaking moves of the season. As the battling Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve came up to lap him at the notorious final corner, the German champion encountered “a chicane disguised as a Minardi” in the words of AUTOSPORT as Lavaggi inadvertently baulked the Ferrari. A priceless commentary clip describing what happens next (with Murray Walker and Jonathan Palmer doing the honours) can be found here.

Lavaggi was nicknamed "Johnny Carwash" (a liberal translation of his name from Italian to English) by those in the F1 paddock, with US talk show host David Letterman helping to bring the name to popular attention.

Giovanni very graciously gave us a fascinating exclusive interview, which you can read by clicking on the thumbnail below:

Giovanni Lavaggi

CLICK HERE to return to our driver profiles.