On this day in F1 – 05 April, brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Bart De Pauw
– 1992: Last participation by a female driver to an F1 Championship event
The second qualifying session for the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix was the scene for the last appearance of a female driver in an F1 championship event until today. Giovanna Amati, an Italian girl with a colorful back-ground (including famous and wealthy parents that were both active in the film industry and an infamous kidnapping when she was 19 years old by a group of gangsters who released her after two months and the payment of a USD 1million ransom), didn’t manage to qualify her Brabham BT60B-Judd for the race.
She set a time that was almost 4 seconds slower than the second-slowest qualifier Paul Belmondo. The later was another film-star driver – the son of French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo.
It was clear that Amati, unlike many of the female drivers who raced in F1 before her, owed her opportunities to the fact that she was a woman. At the end of the 1991 season the illustrious Brabham team had lost its engine supplier Yamaha as well as its two well-respected drivers Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell.
Short of finance the team decided to sign pretty and self-confident Giovanna in the hope that this would attract new sponsors.
After a most painful debut in South-Africa where Giovanna managed to spin not less than six times during free practice and couldn’t qualify for the race as opposed to her Belgian Brabham teammate Eric Van De Poele, and after further unsuccessful attempts to qualify in Mexico and Brazil, Amati’s contract was terminated.
But her first race weekend at the Kyalami circuit was of course a much televised event, and in this footage you can set your eyes on Giovanna, her most cautious first laps, one of her six spins during the weekend, and finally what was probably her biggest ever achievement in an F1 car: keeping Ayrton Senna behind her for three consecutive corners (ok, it was not in a race, but still…).
Brabham replaced Amati with Damon Hill in yet another act of desperation to deal with its irreversible financial difficulties, but he too failed to qualify six times out of eight as he only made it into the British and the Hungarian Grand Prix. The latter race was to be Brabham’s last F1 race as the team collapsed shortly after and despite regularly recurring rumors of the Brabham name being crammed for a revival, it is yet to re-appear at the F1 firmament.