Pierluigi Martini is a former Italian Formula One driver. He participated in 124 grands prix, debuting on September 9, 1984. He scored a total of 18 championship points. In 1999, he won the Le Mans 24 Hours together with Yannick Dalmas and Joachim Winkelhock driving the works BMW V12 LMR.
Pierluigi Martini was born in Lugo di Romagna, Italy, and is a former Italian Formula One driver. His uncle was Giancarlo Martini, whose greatest claim to Formula 1 fame was that he managed to crash a borrowed Ferrari 312T on the warm-up lap for the 1976 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch.
Pint-sized Pierluigi, nicknamed il Puffo (the Smurf), spent a couple of years in Italian F3 driving a Dallara without giving any reaason to be noticed until in 1983 driving a Pavesi Ralt-Alfa Romeo he suprisingly won the European F3 Championship after a late-season run, taking the title at the last race of the season from John Nielsen. He made his Formula 2 debut for Minardi that season finishing second.
He had a test for Brabham in 1984 but failed to land a drive with them and ended up making one attempt to qualify a works Toleman at Monza.
In 1985 he joined Minardi driving the Motori Moderni V6 engined M185. Unfortunately his lack of experience told and he had to content himself by returning to the Pavesi team driving in F3000 for 1986. It turned out ot be a good move and he won rounds at Imola, Mugello and Birmingham. However any hopes of the title were ended when he was disqualified in the final round at Jarama after the car was worked on illegaly during the interrupted race.
In 1987 the team lost their competetiveness and so in 1988 Pierluigi moved to the FIRST team in 1988 driving a March. He also rejoined Minardi and scored their first Championship point with a sixth place at Detroit. In F3000 he took a win at Enna
He actually led one lap of a Grand Prix in Portugal in 1989 and, at the last race of the year in Adelaide, he qualified a fine third on the grid though, the race, he had to settle for a distant sixth place, largely held back by the Pirelli race tyres.
Another uneventful season followed in 1990 while Minardi waited for Ferrari engines, but in 1991 he achieved his best results, finishing fourth in the San Marino and Portuguese GPs.
At the end of the year Martini moved to Scuderia Italia along with the V12 Ferrari engines. 1992 proved to be another frustrating year and when the team concluded a deal to race Lolas in 1993 Martini was left without a drive.
However mid-season he returned to Minardi and he continued to drive for them until the middle of 1995 when he was replaced by the then up-and-coming Portuguese driver Pedro Lamy.
Martini accepted the chance to race Scuderia Italia's Porsche 911 GT1 in 1997 and took a win in Joest's Porsche WSC95 at Donington with Stefan Johansson. The pinnacle of the little Italian's career finally arrived in 1999 when he partnered Yannick Dalmas and Jo Winkelhock to victory at Le Mans driving a works BMW V12 LMR. Having turned down the chance to race sports cars in the USA, Pierluigi is currently chasing a suitable touring car drive for 2000.