Pierluigi Martini

Born:
23rd April 1961 (Age 58)
Lugo, Emilia-Romagna
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The sight of Pierluigi Martini’s Minardi M189-Ford leading the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix may have only lasted a lap but it was one of the great moments for the sport’s underdog teams. Martini was forever a GP minnow but victory at Le Mans and his successful career in the junior categories proves a truly talented protagonist.

Family ties and early racing career

The nephew of Giancarlo Martini, this little Italian was nothing if not thick skinned. He raced in Formula 1 for almost a decade – normally at the tail of the field and with few fleeting moments of glory. He arrived in F1 far too early in his career but he had the fortitude to recover and return.

He had enjoyed a couple of wild years in Italian Formula 3 before his surprise 1983 European F3 Championship success. John Nielsen was the class of the field that year until he was injured at Monaco. Martini’s well-financed Luciano Pavesi Ralt RT3-Alfa Romeo emerged thereafter and he won four times to clinch the title before the Dane returned.

Martini also made a one-off Formula 2 appearance at the 1983 Misano race and excelled – his Minardi M283-BMW finishing second. Suddenly there was a new talent on the horizon and Martini tested a Brabham-BMW at Brands Hatch.

Early Formula 1 disappointment with Toleman and Minardi

When the Toleman F1 team dropped Ayrton Senna before his impending departure to Lotus, they turned to Martini for the 1984 Italian GP but he failed to qualify. Minardi graduated to F1 in 1985 with Martini driving its single Motori Moderni-powered entry. It was a year of retirements and frustration as the inexperienced Martini and Minardi team floundered.

Formula 3000 success and F1 return with Minardi

With his reputation harmed, Martini raced in Formula 3000 for the next three seasons and that proved a wise decision. Martini won three times during 1986 with a Pavesi Ralt RT20-Cosworth as he challenged Ivan Capelli for the title. Runner-up that year, he moved to Lamberto Leoni’s FIRST Racing Team in 1988 and won the Mediterranean GP at Enna-Pergusa. That was one of four podium finishes as Martini finished fourth in the standings and restored his reputation.

He also returned to Minardi and F1 that year when replacing Adrián Campos from the Detroit GP – finishing sixth that day to score the team’s very first world championship point. For the next few seasons, Martini and Minardi were gallant underdogs. There were few highlights but he finished fifth in the 1989 British and Portuguese GPs and the latter provided that brief moment at the front of the field. Martini used Pirelli’s qualifying tyres to good effect at the opening race of 1990 – starting the United States GP from the front row.

Minardi switched to Ferrari engines for 1991 and the combination provided Martini with his best F1 results. Fourth at both Imola and Estoril, he was a career-best 11th in the world championship. He drove a BMS Scuderia Italia Dallara F192-Ferrari in 1992 but returned to Minardi for his final three years as an F1 driver. A return of 18 points from 118 GP starts was scant reward for his talent.

Le Mans winner for BMW

Martini’s last F1 race was the 1995 German GP but his finest moment was still too come. Sharing a Schnitzer BMW V12 LMR in the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours with Yannick Dalmas and Joachim Winkelhock, he traded lap records with Toyota’s Ukyo Katayama during his final stint. When his rival suffered a high-speed puncture with an hour to go, Martini was left to savour the highest profile victory of his career.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2006 Grand Prix Masters
Grand Prix Masters
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1997 International Sports Racing Series
Joest Racing
1 0 1 1 10
1997 FIA GT Championship 33rd 1
1995 F1 World Championship
Minardi Scuderia Italia
8 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1994 F1 World Championship
Minardi Scuderia Italia
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
18th 4
1993 F1 World Championship
Minardi Team
8 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1992 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Italia
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
14th 2
1991 F1 World Championship
Minardi Team
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
11th 6
1990 F1 World Championship
SCM Minardi Team
15 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1989 F1 World Championship
Lois Minardi Team
15 0 0 0
0% win rate
14th 5
1988 FIA International F3000 Championship
First Racing
10 0 4 1
10% win rate
4th 23
1988 F1 World Championship
Lois Minardi Team
9 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
16th 1
1987 FIA International F3000 Championship
Luciano Pavesi Racing
11 0 1 0
0% win rate
11th 8
1986 FIA International F3000 Championship
Luciano Pavesi Racing
10 (1) 2 5 3
30% win rate
2nd 36
1985 F1 World Championship
Minardi Team
15 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1984 F1 World Championship
Toleman Group Motorsport
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1984 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
Lancia Corse
Jolly Club
5 0 0 0 42nd 10
1983 European F2 Championship
Minardi Team
1 0 1 0
0% win rate
10th 6
1983 European F3 Championship
Luciano Pavesi Racing
14 (1) 3 8 4
29% win rate
1st 66
1982 European F3 Championship
Luciano Pavesi Racing
2 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1981 European F3 Championship
Trivellato Racing Team
3 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0