Piercarlo Ghinzani

Born:
16th January 1952 (Age 67)
Riviera d'Adda, Lombardy
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Piercarlo Ghinzani deserved his fifth place finish in the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix for his sheer persistence if nothing else. He entered 111 GPs (failing to qualify 35 times) and that race in the Texan heat was his only points score. He spent the majority of his Formula 1 career with perennial backmarkers Osella but also drove for Toleman, Ligier and Zakspeed without troubling the scorers.

Early racing career

Having raced for a first time in Formula Ford during 1970, it was in Formula 3 that Ghinzani established his reputation although success was not immediate. He showed promise during 1975 with the unique CRS-Toyota and was runner-up in the 1976 Italian Championship with Martino Finotto’s Allegrini X7-sponsored March 763-Toyota – only losing to Riccardo Patrese at the final round.

He switched to Paulo Pavanello’s AFPM March 773-Toyota for 1977 and emerged as European F3 Champion after winning three times. Also making his Formula 2 debut for the team that year, Ghinzani completed a full season for the team in 1978. His March 782-BMW was fourth at Enna-Pergusa after qualifying on the front row but that was the only competitive showing of a disappointing campaign.

Consequently, Ghinzani returned to F3 in 1979 when driving a March 793-Alfa Romeo for Pavanello’s new Euroracing concern. He beat a young Michele Alboreto to the Italian F3 Championship before putting his single-seater career on hold by switching to sports cars in 1980 with a works Lancia Beta Monte Carlo.

Formula 1 with Osella

He continued with the team in 1981 but was Osella’s surprising choice to replace the injured Miguel Angel Guerra for two GPs. His Osella FA1B-Ford was 13th on his debut in Belgium but failed to qualify at Monaco.

Those seemed isolated F1 appearances for Ghinzani continued in sports cars. He won the 1982 Mugello 1000Kms when his Lancia LC1 held together for once and the following season was again blighted the new LC2’s fragility.

However, Ghinzani was now also a fulltime F1 driver. He tested a Tyrrell 011-Ford at Paul Ricard in early 1983 and proved quicker than Stefan Johansson, Chico Serra and Danny Sullivan. The American was chosen and Ghinzani joined Osella instead. He failed to qualify for seven of the first eight races and only finished once when he finally coaxed his Osella FA1E-Alfa Romeo into the race – 11th in Austria.

The team entered a single turbocharged FA1F-Alfa Romeo for Ghinzani in 1984 and it proved a slightly more competitive proposition. He was lucky to escape a fiery accident at Kyalami’s Jukskei Sweep during warm-up for the South African GP when the car broke in half. But he finished seventh at Monaco and fifth in that race of attrition in Dallas.

Formula 1 frustration and sports car success

Replaced during 1985 when the impoverished Osella Squadra Corse accepted Huub Rothengatter’s sponsorship funds, Ghinzani returned mid-season in a second Toleman TG185-Hart. It seemed to be his breakthrough opportunity but Ghinzani did not finish a race and he was back with Osella for 1986.

That was another uncompetitive year of mechanical failure and accidents during which Ghinzani’s Joest Racing Porsche 956 won the 1986 Fuji 1000Kms with Paolo Barilla. Further F1 seasons with Ligier (1987) and Zakspeed (1988) provided only further frustration. He returned to Osella for 1989 but his final F1 season was among his worst – rarely making it through pre-qualifying.

He retired at the end of the year and has run Team Ghinzani in F3 and other categories since the mid 1990s. Ghinzani also runs a car dealership in Bergamo.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1989 F1 World Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
3 (13) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1988 F1 World Championship
West Zakspeed Racing
8 (8) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1987 F1 World Championship
Ligier LOTO
14 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1987 World Sports-Prototype Championship 1 0 0 0 0
1986 F1 World Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
15 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Joest Racing
3 0 1 1 23rd 20
1985 F1 World Championship
Toleman Group Motorsport
Osella Squadra Corse
14 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1984 F1 World Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
14 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 2
1983 F1 World Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
7 (8) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1983 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
6 1 0 0 0
1982 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
8 1 1 1 15th 21
1981 World Endurance Championship
Gerhard Schneider
Martini Racing (Lancia)
7 0 0 0 262nd 9
1981 F1 World Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
1 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1980 World Championship of Makes
Lancia Corse
Jolly Club
6 0 0 0 20
1980 Aurora AFX British F1 Championship
Dywa Cars
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1979 European F3 Championship
Euroracing
7 0 5 2
29% win rate
0
1979 Italian F3 Championship 1st -
1978 European F2 Championship
Euroracing
12 0 0 0
0% win rate
16th 3
1978 World Championship of Makes
Martino Finotto
1 0 0 0 8
1977 European F2 Championship
AFMP Euroracing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1977 European F3 Championship
AFMP Euroracing
13 (1) 0 9 3
24% win rate
1st 58 (61)
1976 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1976 European F3 Championship
Scuderia Angeleri
5 0 2 0
0% win rate
6th 11
1975 European F3 Cup
Scuderia Mirabella Mille Miglia
Scuderia Angeleri
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
20th 2