Many Formula 1 drivers start their professional careers in professional areas linked to racing. Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, for example, studied to become mechanics before hitting the big time in F1. Spaniard Marc Gene was quite a different character. Fluent in English, German, Italian and, of course, Spanish, he got an economics degree and worked for "big 4" accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. When he got a break from Excel sheets, he was a keen racer, however, a passion which started in kart and took him to Italy's Superformula championship and British F3. He later moved to Spain's Open Fortuna Formula for Nissan-engined single-seaters, where he took a string of victories and became champion.
It was here that he met former Minardi driver Adrian Campos, who ran his team, and his future sponsor Telefonica, the Spanish telecoms group. Winning the Open Fortuna Championship secured a race seat with Minardi in 1999. The highlight of the season came in the extraordinary European GP which saw both M01s battling for points. Unfortunately his team mate Luca Badoer dropped out in fourth place in the closing stages but Gene kept his cool until the finish line to take one point that ensured Minardi another season of travel bonuses. Gene didn't score any points in 2000, but the Spaniard and his Argentinean team-mate Gaston Mazzacane fought for every position, again securing Minardi a place in the top ten of constructors, ahead of the Prost team.
When his sponsor Telefonica left Minardi in 2001, Gene took the decision to become a test driver for the BMW Williams team. He substituted Ralf Schumacher twice in 2003 and 2004. While in 2003 he was able to grab four points and his best ever result at the Italian GP, he was less impressive during his two race stints in 2004 and did not score a point. He switched to Ferrari in late 2004, joining former teammate Luca Badoer. He left Ferrari in 2010. Outside of F1, Gene built a successful career in sports cars, winning the 24 hours of Le Mans for the Peugeot Team in 2009 together with David Brabham and Alex Wurz. Switching to Audi, he came in third in 2013 and second in 2014.