Lehto JJ Lehto, 1993 Hungarian Grand Prix Lehto

Full Name: Jyrki Juhani Järvilehto
Nationality: Finnish
Born: 31 January 1966, Espoo (FIN)

First GP: 1989 Spanish Grand Prix
Last GP: 1994 Australian Grand Prix

Entries: 70 Grands Prix: 62 Non-starts: 8
Wins: 0 Podiums: 1 Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 10 Retirements: 36

1987 British Formula Ford 2000, 1st overall
  Scandinavian Formula Ford 2000, 1st overall
1988 British Formula 3, 1st overall
1989 International F3000, Pacific Racing, 9 races, 14th overall
  Formula 1, Moneytron Onyx Ford V8 ORE-1, 4 entries, 2 DNPQ, 0 points, Not Classified
1990 Formula 1, Monteverdi Onyx Ford V8 ORE-1/ORE-2, 10 entries, 5 DNQ, 0 points, Not Classified
1991 Formula 1, Scuderia Italia Dallara Judd V10 191, 16 entries, 1 podium, 4 points, 12th overall
1992 Formula 1, Scuderia Italia Dallara Ferrari V12 192, 16 entries, 1 DNQ, 0 points, Not Classified
1993 Formula 1, Sauber Ilmor V10 C12, 16 races, 5 points, 13th overall
1994 Formula 1, Benetton Ford V8 B194, 6 races, 1 point, 24th overall
  Formula 1, Sauber Mercedes V10 C13, 2 races, 0 points
1995 Le Mans 24 Hours, KKR McLaren F1 GTR, 1st overall with Yannick Dalmas & Masanori Sekiya
1998 CART World Series, Hogan Racing Mercedes Reynard, 19 races, 20th overall
1999 ALMS, BMW Motorsport V12 LMR, 4 wins, 6 podiums 4th overall
2000 ALMS, BMW Motorsport V12 LMR, 2 wins, 8 podiums, 6th overall
2001 ALMS (GT Class), BMW Motorsport M3 GTR, 4 wins, 7 podiums, 2nd overall
2002 ALMS, Team Cadillac V8 LMP02, 4 podiums, 13th overall
2003 ALMS, Champion Racing Audi R8, 4 wins, 8 podiums, 3rd overall
  Le Mans 24 Hours, Champion Racing Audi R8, 3rd overall w’ Emanuele Pirro & Stefan Johansson
2004 ALMS, Champion Racing Audi R8, 6 wins, 9 podiums, 1st overall
  Le Mans 24 Hours, Champion Racing Audi R8, 3rd overall with Marco Werner & Emanuele Pirro
2005 ALMS Champion Racing R8, 3 wins, 7 podiums, 3rd overall
  Le Mans 24 Hours, Champion Racing Audi R8, 1st overall with Tom Kristensen & Marco Werner


Born Jyrki Jarvilehto, the Finn was a protégé of 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg, who suggested he use the easier-to-pronounce ‘JJ Lehto’ moniker for his racing career.

Lehto had originally wanted to go into rallying, but the loss of a prospective sponsor steered him in the direction of circuit racing. He dominated the Scandinavian Formula Ford championship and then went on to win the British Formula 3 title in 1988.

Signed briefly to be Ferrari’s test driver, he was slotted in at the Onyx squad for the final four races in place of the out-of-favour Bertrand Gachot. He stayed on with the team into 1990 until it collapsed mid-season in a mountain of debt courtesy of its incompetent management, but was thrown a lifeline by Scuderia Italia for the 1991 season.

He peaked with a plucky podium in the wet-dry San Marino Grand Prix, and stayed on for 1992, but it was a disappointing year, despite having Ferrari engines at his disposal.

He joined the new Sauber team for 1993, helping it achieve points in its debut race, and his solid performances saw him called up to Benetton for the 1994 season as Michael Schumacher’s team-mate.

But his season was blighted by a pre-season testing crash that left him with a broken vertebra in his neck, and it irreparably damaged his confidence. He qualified poorly when he did race, and the team tended to substitute him for the quicker (albeit more accident-prone) Jos Verstappen, and when he did drive alongside Verstappen, he proved slower…

Two outings with Sauber at the end of the season proved a limp swansong, and he disappeared to the DTM championship before going on to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1995 driving the all-conquering McLaren F1 GTR.

He would win the great race ten years later, driving for the works Audi LMP1 squad. In between, he’d carved out quite a name for himself in sports car racing, particularly in the United States.

He also dovetailed this with work as an expert Formula 1 commentator for Finnish TV.

But his post-F1 career came to a crashing halt (literally), when he was involved in a fatal boat accident in June 2010, in which his passenger was killed. After a lengthy investigation, Lehto – who was alleged to have been drunk at the time of the accident – was ruled to be the driver, and was convicted of negligent homicide and reckless driving. He was sentenced to a 28-month jail term, although had the sentence overturned one year into his jail stint.

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