Paul Belmondo

Born:
23rd April 1963 (Age 56)
Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, Ile-de-France
Nationality:
French
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Paul Belmondo is a former Grand Prix driver who was also a successful international sports car and GT team owner. His father is Jean-Paul Belmondo who starred in A Bout de Souffle (Breathless) and remains among France’s most famous movie stars of all time.

Upbringing and early career

Reflected fame gave Paul Belmondo privileges and resentment in equal measure. That he has been romantically attached to Princess Stéphanie of Monaco only reinforced the feeling of French royalty for whom motor racing was just an expensive hobby.

He won the Volant Elf scholarship in 1982 before spending a season in Formula Renault. Belmondo graduated to French Formula 3 in 1984 for the first of three seasons in the series – winning once during that time but forever dismissed as a playboy. Belmondo stepped up to Formula 3000 in 1987 – initially with the new GBDA team but two points finishes in five seasons was a less-than impressive return.

Formula 1 failure and GT success

Formula 1 followed in 1992 although he struggled to qualify during his half season with a Leyton House March CG911-Ilmor. He only qualified twice for the uncompetitive Pacific team during 1994 and Belmondo’s record as a GP driver was not impressive. Ninth in the 1992 Hungarian GP was his only top-10 finish in seven starts (and 10 DNQs).

He then formed Paul Belmondo Racing and became a mainstay of FIA and French GT championships. Victory at Homestead in 1999 with Emmanuel Clérico and a Chrysler Viper – beating the works cars in the process – was his personal highlight as a racing driver. The team closed in 2006 as Belmondo chose pursue a new career as an actor.

Belmondo added an undoubted touch of glamour to the world’s most glamorous sport but he was more successful as a team owner than as a driver.