Gaston Mazzacane

Gaston Mazzacane started his career in karting. He won some races and regional championships and moved on to touring cars and South American F3. With three pole positions and five wins in his first year it was time for him to try his luck across the Atlantic. In 1994 he became Italian F2000 champion and did some testing with International F3000 cars. He raced in F3000 (with Astromega and Team Autosport) for three years (96-98) until Giancarlo Minardi and Gabriele Rumi appointed him as Minardi's test driver in 1999. Gaston's backer PSN (Pan American Sportsnetwork; a Miami-based 24 hour sports TV-station focused on Latin American audiences) brought in some cash and suddenly Gaston found himself in Minardi's M02 teaming-up with Marc Gene.

Mazzacane made his debut in F1 the same year as Nick Heidfeld (Prost) and Jenson Button (Williams). While Button entered F1 with a media hype which he would only live up to many years later, Mazzacane did not receive as warm a welcome by the media. Gaston made some eat their words when he came in 12th for the very first practice session at the Australian GP in Melbourne ahead of both Heidfeld and Button. He wasn't able to keep up this performance during qualifying where he was outpaced by his team-mate Marc Gene (who, by that time, already had a full F1 season under his belt) and occupied the 22nd and final spot on the grid. On race day Mazzacane did a good job until he had to leave the race with flames shooting out of his M02. The rest of the season was typical of a number two driver at Minardi, not very spectacular. Mazzacane proved to be a very reliable driver. Out of 17 races he finished 12.

He made few friends at the top end of the paddock because he was accused of blocking faster drivers, with especially McLaren's David Coulthard and Ron Dennis accusing him of being a "mobile chicane". After the Hungarian GP, the Minardi team sent out a press release, showing that DC didn't lose any time while lapping Mazzacane during the race. McLaren refrained from complaining about blocking after this incident. Gaston's moment in the limelight came at the very first US GP at Indianapolis. In the changing conditions Mazzacane suddenly found himself in 3rd position with Mika Hakkinen behind.

Hakkinen was still fighting for the 2000 championship and was trying hard to pass Mazzacane. But the double world champion had no chance to pass the Argentine until he went in for his pitstop. Mazzacane retired later in the race with engine problems. Pictures showing a devastated McLaren fan throwing a can of beer onto Mazzacane's retired M02 from the grandstand went around the world. At the end of the season Mazzacane's sponsor PSN was rumoured to be buying the Minardi team. What really happened was never revealed but the outcome was that Minardi didn't have a sponsor, faced a severe crisis and Mazzacane moved onto Prost GP. There Mazzacane never seemed to be very welcome. After four races he was replaced by Luciano Burti and left F1. He raced in Champ Car for one season. Most recently he's had stints in Brazilian Formula Truck, Argentinan Top Race V6 and he joined his countryman and fellow former Minardi driver Esteban Tuero in FIA GT.