Giancarlo Baghetti

Born:
25th December 1934
Milan, Lombardy
Died:
27th November 1995 (Aged 60)
Milan, Lombardy, cancer
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

This Italian holds a unique place in Formula 1 history as winner of his very first Grand Prix. That was in the slipstreaming classic that was the 1961 French GP at Reims but it would prove to be Giancarlo Baghetti’s only victory in his 21 GP starts.

Upbringing and early career

The son of a wealthy Milan foundry owner, Baghetti started racing in 1956 and he borrowed his father’s car to finish second in the 1958 Mille Miglia – an emasculated regulated test following the tragedy 12 months earlier. When Baghetti exploded onto the F1 scene in 1961 he had only raced for three seasons in the backwaters of national sports cars (with a Fiat Abarth) and Formula Junior (in a Dagrada-Lancia). The highlight for the latter minor marque was his victory at Monza in 1960.

Sensational Formula 1 debut

Ferrari signed Baghetti as a junior in 1961. His season started with second position in the Sebring 12 hours when sharing a 250TR with Willy Mairesse, Richie Ginther and Wolfgang von Trips. But his early F1 career was nothing short of sensational. He drove a Ferrari Dino 156 entered by a conglomerate of Italian sporting clubs, the Federazione Italiana Scuderie Automobilistiche, to non-championship victories at Syracuse and Naples in his first two F1 starts.

Surely Baghetti could not make it three in a row on his world championship debut at Reims? He only qualified for the French GP in 12th position and Baghetti was left to uphold Ferrari honour when the works cars all retired. That he did with aplomb, dueling Dan Gurney’s Porsche for the lead and edging his more experienced rival to score a first GP victory.

Two further championship outings that year with Scuderia Sant Ambroeus were less successful – crashing at Aintree and retiring again in Italy after setting the fastest lap of the race. He also scored a fourth F1 victory of the season at Vallelunga with the team’s Porsche 718.

Works Ferrari driver and ATS disaster

Rewarded with a works Ferrari contract for 1962, he finished fourth in Holland and fifth in Italy from his four championship races. Baghetti was second that year at Enna and in the Targa Florio, sharing with Ferrari’s other emerging talent Lorenzo Bandini in that latter event.

Ferrari preferred Bandini for the future and Baghetti left to join the breakaway ATS team in 1963. It was a disaster and his GP career spiraled out of existence, driving Scuderia Centro Sud’s BRM P57 in 1964 before one-offs with Brabham, Reg Parnell Racing and Lotus over the next three seasons.

Post-Formula 1 career

During that time, Baghetti raced in the European Touring Car Championship and even competed in Formula 3 for a time. His works Ferrari Dino 206S was second in the 1966 Targa Florio (with Jean Guichet) and he won the 1000cc class of that year’s ETCC driving a works Fiat Abarth 1000TC – winning Division 1 races at Monza and Aspern.

He competed on the 1968 London-Sydney Rally and later worked as a photo-journalist once his racing career had petered out. He was editor of Auto Oggi (Cars Today) before his untimely death from cancer when only 60 years old. "A talented driver and a good journalist," according to Luca di Montezemolo, Giancarlo Baghetti was a popular member of the racing fraternity who still holds that unique piece of F1 history.

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