'Better to be at the back in Formula 1 than not to be in Formula 1 at all', said Piercarlo Ghinzani, and that's pretty well where he stayed in a Grand Prix career that was to span eight seasons, mostly at the tail-end of the grid. It was all a long way from the start of his career when, after his 1970 debut in Italian Formula Ford, he began the slow climb up the motor racing ladder through Formula Italia to Formula 3 in 1973. His early days in Italian F3 were underfinanced, but he did finish second to Riccardo Patrese in 1976. Moving up to the European series in 1977, Piercarlo did extremely well to take the title, his phlegmatic approach being vital in a team that was beset by upheaval. The next step into Formula 2 with a March was a big disappointment, and this appeared to be a major blow to his aspirations. Salvation was nigh. In 1981 he was called in as a last-minute replacement for Osella after Giorgio Francia's credentials failed to satisfy FISA, and he qualified for the Belgian GP. This was the start of what was to be a long association with the little team, his best result being a much-needed fifth place at Dallas in 1984. He did take a brief sabbatical in mid-1985 when a second Toleman was entered, but returned to the fold for 1986. In Grands Prix, results were understandably hard to find, but he had been successful in endurance events, winning the Fuji 1000 Km in a Porsche with Barilla. In 1987, Ghinzani tried his luck in a Ligier team suddenly shorn of potential when an Alfa Romeo engine deal foundered as the season dawned, and then it was on to an equally fruitless sojourn at Zakspeed, before just one more season back in the Osella camp. Ghinzani certainly had staying power; he started 96 Grands Prix, but more pointedly failed to qualify for another 31 - a real glutton for punishment! Subsequently Piercarlo has formed his own Formula 3 team which is a leading light in the Italian championship, and he is reportedly eyeing up a move to the newly inaugurated Italian F3000 championship for the year 2000.