Before Formula OneEdit
Ricardo Zunino was born into a wealthy farming family located in San Juan, near the Argentine-Chile border. In 1970 at the age of 21, Zunino began his motor racing career. Zunino only raced domestically within his Argentine home. Between in 1970 and 1976, Zunino competed in the Argentine Touring Car Championship. In 1976, Zunino went on to win the Argentine Touring Car Championship for the first time at age 27.
Zunino's success in touring cars prompted the Automobile Club of Argentina to sponsor him in a move to European racing for 1977. For 1977, Zunino joined the Formula Two series racing for the Euroracing team. Zunino failed to make much impact and suffered generally poor results throughout the season. However at the Pau Grand Prix, Zunino was invited to race as the third driver for the March team. In the wet conditions Zunino was able to bring the car home in sixth position, taking his first and only points of the season.
Zunino's performances in the wet at Pau was enough for March to offer him a full-time drive in the team for 1978. Zunino was moderately successful in the season, scoring in five of the twelve championship rounds. However he was consistently the slowest of the four works cars, his teammates consisted of fellow Formula One drivers Bruno Giacomelli, Marc Surer and Manfred Winkelhock. Giacomelli would dominate the championship with Surer in second position.
In 1979, Zunino competed in the first four rounds of the Formula Two championship for March before making the move to the British Formula One championship.
1979: British Formula One Edit
In 1979, Zunino hoped to bring his sponsorship money to the small-time privateer team BS Fabrications to compete in the 1979 Formula One Season. BS Fabrications had competed in the past three seasons and despite Zunino and the team taking part in pre-season testing, the team ultimately quit racing in the Formula One World Championship. Zunino however remained with the team in 1979 as they entered the British Formula One Championship. Zunino competed in a Brabham BT49 from the fifth round of the championship onwards.
Despite missing the first part of the season, Zunino established himself well in the series. Out of the nine races he competed in the season, Zunino finished second three times and took a single victory at Brands Hatch.
During practice for the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix, former World Champion Niki Lauda announced his retirement from Formula One with immediate effect, leaving the Brabham team without a second driver for the event. Zunino had by lucky chance booked seats as a spectator for the exact same race. Lauda's shock announcement had left Brabham without any time to fill their second seat for the Grand Prix. Brabham team principal Bernie Ecclestone made a plea to the spectators asking if anyone capable of driving a Formula One car would be willing to take Lauda's seat.
Zunino found himself in luck, the Argentine approached the team and having raced the team's car in British Formula One with success seemed like the most logical choice for the team. Zunino drove for the team for the very first time during the qualifying session and although he was some way off teammate Nelson Piquet who qualified fourth, Zunino was able to manage to qualify nineteenth out of the twenty four runners. During the race Zunino was well off the pace, he finished the race in seventh place albeit four laps down on the leader.
Brabham opted to keep Zunino for the final round of the championship at Watkins Glen. Zunino whilst still off the pace of teammate Piquet who had qualified second, improved his own performance to qualify in ninth position. Zunino drove a lackluster race before spinning into the catch fencing just under half distance.
Zunino had not exactly shined in his two performances at the end of 1979, yet surprisingly Brabham signed Zunino for a second season. Zunino who had found his race seat by mere chance was more than happy to race as the clear number two to Brabham's other driver, the young fast charging Nelson Piquet.
The first race of the season took place on Zunino's home turf in Argentina. Despite this, Zunino failed to make an impression qualifying in sixteenth in comparison to Piquet's third. Zunino would finish the race, albeit seventh and last of the surviving runners as well as finishing two laps down on the leader. Piquet, meanwhile started the season off with a podium finish.
Formula One CareerEdit
Formula One Statistical OverviewEdit
Formula One RecordEdit
|Year||Entrant||Team||WDC Points||WDC Pos.||Report|
|Win Number||Grand Prix|
|Complete Formula One results|
|3rd||DNQ||Did not qualify|
|5th||Points finish||DNPQ||Did not pre-qualify|
|14th||Non-points finish||TD||Test driver|
|NC||Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)||DNS||Did not start|
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