Giancarlo Baghetti

Giancarlo Baghetti

25/12/1934 - 27/11/1995

Formula One driver who raced for the Ferrari, ATS (Ita), BRM, Brabham and Lotus teams.

Baghetti began racing in 1955 in production cars, moving up to Formula Junior in 1958.

In 1961 he was selected by the Federazione Italiana Scuderie Automobilistiche (FISA), a coalition of independent Italian team owners who had agreed a loan deal with Ferrari for a 246 Dino Formula Two car to run in non-Championship Grand Prix, giving experience to promising Italian drivers.

Despite not showing spectacular form in lower categories, Baghetti was chosen over Albino Buttichi and Lucien de Sanctis for the seat. The car was first entered for the Syracuse Grand Prix, the first major event ran under the new 1.5 litre championship regulations, and against a strong field Baghetti qualified 2nd and won in the only Ferrari, with the British teams and Porsche unable to compete with the Ferrari's engine.

He then used the same car to win at the Napoli Grand Prix a few weeks later. FISA then acquired a new Ferrari 156 for the French Grand Prix at Reims, entering Baghetti for this World Championship event.

Once Wolfgang von Trips, Ritchie Ginther and Phil Hill had all retired their works 156 cars, Baghetti was left to uphold Ferrari honour. He overcame Dan Gurney's Porsche to take victory, giving him a hat-trick of wins from his first three Grand Prix; aside from Nino Farina winning the first ever World Championship Grand Prix in 1950, Baghetti still arguably remains the only driver to have won his first ever World Championship race.

He would enter two more Championship races, retiring from the British and Italian Grand Prix, though he posted fastest lap in the latter. He would also win the poorly-attended Prima Coppa Italia race at Vallelunga in a Porsche 718.

He was promoted to the works Ferrari line-up for 1962, but took just two Championship placings - 4th at the Dutch Grand Prix, and 5th at the Italian Grand Prix, as Ferrari was outclassed by the British teams. Baghetti would take 2nd in the non-Championship Mediterranean Grand Prix.

He would be involved in the disastrous ATS effort in 1963, joining up with Phil Hill for Carlo Chitti's breakaway team, but failed to register a finish from five starts.

For 1964 he switched to Scuderia Centro Sud's outdated BRM P57 cars, peaking with 7th at the Austrian Grand Prix. His Grand Prix career would then be virtually over, though he would have three more one-off drives, all at the Italian Grand Prix - a works Brabham in 1965, a Reg Parnell-entered Ferrari in 1966, and a works Lotus in 1967, when he would have scored a point but for a blown engine.

He achieved some success in the European Touring Car Championship with Alfa Romeo and Fiat Abarth, winning the 1966 1000cc Class Championship in an Abarth 1000. After dabbling in Formula Two, he retired after a huge accident at the 1968 Monza Lottery, becoming a journalist and photographer in motorsport and fashion.

Baghetti died of cancer in 1995. While his ultimate level of talent is still debated (on the one hand, he won his first three Grand Prix, no mean feat for any driver; on the other, his results both before and after this were unimpressive), Baghetti's Championship debut win seems to have secured him a footnote in Formula One history.

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