For a man of his impressive racing pedigree, Alessandro Zanardi had a most disappointing Formula 1 career. His family were not very keen on him taking up racing as a profession but Zanardi nevertheless started to compete in karting and quickly progressed through Italian Formula 3, taking the runner up position in Formula 3000 in 1991. The good results led Eddie Jordan to hire him at the end of the 1991 season, which resulted in two race finishes in 9th position. In 1992 Zanardi briefly joined Minardi to replace Christian Fittipaldi but he did not impress, failing to qualify twice in three races. He nevertheless managed to stay in Formula 1, spending two seasons at Team Lotus with a sixth position at Interlagos as his best result. It was only when he moved across the Atlantic to the CART series that his career really took off.
He came in 3rd in his debut season and took the title twice in 1997 and 1998. Buoyed by these results, Zanardi was called back to Formula 1 by Frank Williams. The result was another disappointing year, in which Zanardi did not score a single point in spite of his teammate Ralf Schumacher finishing several races on the podium. Zanardi returned to CART in 2001 and suffered a horrific accident at the Lausitzring in Germany which required both of his legs to be amputated. Zanardi did not allow himself to be deterred by this terrible event and embarked on a rigorous rehabilitation programme. He returned to motor racing four years later, taking a string of victories over a five-year period in the World Touring Car Championship. He also took up handcycling, winning the New York Marathon and two gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.