Piercarlo Ghinzani


  • Riviera d'Adda, Lombardy, Italy Place of Birth
  • 16 January 1952 Date of Birth
  • 1981 Belgian Grand Prix F1 Debut
  • Osella Current/Last Team

“Better to be at the back in Formula 1 than not to be in Formula 1 at all,” said Piercarlo Ghinzani, and he lived by that philosophy throughout his eight-season Grand Prix career, often found at the tail end of the grid. His journey began with a modest debut in Italian Formula Ford in 1970, followed by a gradual climb through the ranks to Formula Italia and then to Formula 3 in 1973. Although his early days in Italian F3 were underfinanced, he managed to finish second to Riccardo Patrese in 1976. Ghinzani excelled in the European series in 1977, clinching the title with a calm and steady approach despite team upheavals.

BornPiercarlo Ghinzani
16 January 1952
Riviera d’Adda, Lombardy, Italy

A move to Formula 2 with March in the following years proved disappointing, seemingly derailing his ambitions. However, in 1981, he found an unexpected opportunity when he was called in as a last-minute replacement for Osella after Giorgio Francia failed to meet FISA’s requirements. This marked the beginning of a long association with the Osella team, with his best result being a fifth-place finish at the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix.

After a brief stint with Toleman in mid-1985, Ghinzani returned to Osella in 1986. While Grand Prix success was elusive, he found success in endurance racing, winning the Fuji 1000 Km in a Porsche with Barilla. In 1987, Ghinzani joined Ligier, but the team’s potential was hampered by a failed Alfa Romeo engine deal. He then moved to Zakspeed, which also proved fruitless, before spending one final season with Osella.

Ghinzani started 96 Grands Prix and failed to qualify for another 31. After retiring from Formula 1, he formed his own Formula 3 team, becoming a leading figure in the Italian championship. He also considered expanding into the newly inaugurated Italian F3000 championship in 2000.

Piercarlo Ghinzani Formula One World Championship career

Active years1981, 1983 – 1989
TeamsOsella, Toleman, Ligier, Zakspeed
Entries111 (74 starts)
Career points2
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1981 Belgian Grand Prix
Last entry1989 Australian Grand Prix

Sources: and


Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
French Ligier 1971 Italian Grand Prix Retired
French Ligier 1978 South African Grand Prix Retired


Team Nationality Debut Season Status
Osella Italian 1980 Historic
Toleman British 1981 Historic
Ligier French 1976 Historic
Zakspeed German 1985 Historic