What did F1 drivers do after racing? Zanardi, Alguersuari and more – Autosport

While there’s no shortage of former Formula 1 drivers visible on any F1 broadcast, retired drivers don’t always go into punditry after their time behind the wheel – some drivers take on different careers entirely.
Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Virgin Racing at Formula E Championship
Photo by: Manuel Goria / Motorsport Images
• F1 starts: 46 (2009 – 2011
)• F1 wins:
0• F1 championships: 0
Spaniard, Jaime Victor Alguersuari Escudero (to give his full name) joined the ranks of F1 drivers in 2009 with Toro Rosso, the move into the team coming after having his talents nurtured as part of the Red Bull Junior programme. Despite being the youngest- ever F1 driver at the time of his debut, his time in the world of F1 was brief and without notable success. He did make the top 10 in a few races, his best season being his final year in 2011.
Even while still racing though, Jaime was pursuing another career in music. This is not unique among F1 drivers but whereas, for example, former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve’s album Private Paradise has been met with complete indifference, Alguersuari has achieved notable success in this field. In line with his quoted philosophy of reinvention and the pursuit of new objectives he has adopted DJ Squire as his identity within the music world and his debut album Organic Life topped the iTunes chart 5 days after its release.
Jaime has his own studio in this native Barcelona and led the 2010 Music Conference there. He hasn’t limited his artistic output to music, also having dabbled in the world of acting . However, it is his music that continues to provide the most success since hanging up his crash helmet. With a style described as being “jazz like” he mixes styles and influences, from long held musical traditions to cutting edge electronic sounds.
With releases through a number of labels and live sets at well-known venues, the fame of DJ Squire may have already eclipsed that of Alguersuari the grand prix driver.
Pedro Diniz
Photo by: Sutton Images
• F1 starts: 98 (1995 – 2000)
• F1 wins: 0
• F1 championships: 0
Brazilian Diniz joined the Forti F1 team in 1995 before moving to Ligier then Arrows and Sauber. Although he drove in six seasons he only managed to amass 10 points in that time. His best results were two fifth places, one in 1997 and one in 1998, both with Arrows. His career was marked by bad luck, retiring from far more races than he finished.
After his driving career came to an end Diniz’s family initially sought to buy a stake in the Sauber team but the negotiations stalled so, instead, he bought shares in his family’s supermarket chain GPA. The company operates three different store concepts and they are currently the second largest retail company in Latin America, selling through both supermarkets and online. The success of the company was highlighted by the expansion in 2013 when plans for an additional 150 stores were revealed. The commodities that GPA deal in spread from food to electrical home appliances, bridging the worlds of the tradition supermarket and hardware store.
Diniz has also tackled environmental and sustainability concerns by transforming his family’s farm into one of Brazil’s largest producers of organic eggs and fruit. He has adopted an agroforestry method to balance biomass production and nutritional needs of crops and animals, to create a scaleable model that can be used for the largest of farms.
Alongside this he is also a board member of Food Tank which is an organisation set up to highlight sustainable ways for alleviating hunger, obesity and poverty. Food Tank has held a series of summits across America centred on issues around sustainability and equity in food systems. It also uses conventional publications and podcasts to pursue its agenda. There is even an “interactive musical” about climate change called WeCameToDance.
Although Diniz’s past career in F1 was perhaps less than sparkling, he appears to be leading his industry into the future today.
Eddie Irvine
• F1 starts: 145 (1993 – 2002)
• F1 wins: 4
• F1 championships: 0
Known for his high living and mischievous sense of fun, Eddie Irvine burst onto the F1 scene in 1993 with Jordan. He would move on to Ferrari for four seasons in 1996 before joining Jaguar from 2000 to 2002. Fast enough to take four wins and come second in the world championship in 1999, he couldn’t find the consistency to make the most of his speed. Although his stint at Ferrari coinciding with Michael Schumacher’s time at the team can’t have helped.
In what seems like a contradiction to his hard partying playboy image, Irvine turned to the sober world of property investment after his F1 career came to an end. In fact he had started down this path before getting to the top tier in motorsport and with not insignificant success. With investments initially based around his native Northern Ireland, he had already joined the millionaire club at a point in his career when most aspiring F1 drivers were still scraping the money together to reach the series.
Irvine has dabbled in the world of entertainment through TV and film projects since 2002 but property development has remained his main focus of interest. His original company, Crishardzoe Developments is now dissolved to be replaced by Ballyquinn Properties, incorporated in 2009 and through which he has since spread his portfolio further with various developments in the USA. Three of his houses in Miami were sold in 2013 for £27 million and in 2018 a further beach mansion for £20.8 million. He spent £3.5 million buying the Exuma Yacht Club in Great Exuma, a Caribbean island with links to the infamous pirate Captain Kidd, and has now turned this into a luxury resort.
Despite the global success that comes with a career in F1 and his later developments, he still invests locally and owns the Eddie Irvine Sports complex in Bangor, the town where he used to attend school. Naturally karting and race simulators figure prominently at the venue but it also includes a snooker hall and football pitches. At one point being listed the fifth richest person in Northern Ireland, the “local sportsman who came good” is obviously also a very astute businessman who has managed to keep in touch with his roots.
Alex Zanardi
Photo by: BMW AG
• F1 starts: 41 (1991 – 1994, 1999)
• F1 wins: 0
• F1 championships: 0
Bologna born Alex Zanardi joined the ranks of F1 drivers in 1991 at the wheel of a Jordan before a move to the Minardi team the following year. This was followed by a switch to Team Lotus for the next two years before leaving the world of F1 behind, finding success in the CART series and taking that championship in 1997 and 1998. Alex followed this by returning to F1 with Williams but a lack lustre year saw him contesting the CART championship again in 2000. During the 2001 race at Laustiz in Germany he spun when coming out of the pits and was struck by Patrick Carpentier. Horrifically, the impact not only split the car but also amputated both of Zanardi’s legs.
Despite losing 75% of his blood Zanardi managed to survive this and even returned to motorsport in 2003, driving a car with hand controls. An indication of his determination can be found in the fact that he designed his own prosthetic legs as he didn’t think the ones generally available were good enough. In 2005 he took the Italian Supertourismo Championship.
As part of his rehabilitation, Alex took up handcycling and after only four weeks training came fourth in class at the New York City Marathon. This opened up yet another challenge and the unstoppable Alex Zanardi would start chasing a new dream.
Within his categories he took wins at the 2009 Venice Marathon, the 2010 Rome City Marathon and the 2011 New York City Marathon. In 2012 he became a Paralympian and took two gold medals and a silver in London. The 2016 Paralympics were held in Rio de Janeiro where he repeated his results by taking two golds and a silver again.
In 2020 Alex lost control of his handbike during the Obiettivo Tricolore road race and crashed into a truck resulting in severe head injuries. After three months he was still in a critical condition in hospital but by December 2021 he was able to return home to continue his rehabilitation, surprising the doctors with the speed of his recovery. Perhaps rather than Paralympian, Alex Zanardi’s post-F1 career should be summed up with titled Inspiration?
Sergio Perez, Force India VJM08 Mercedes, 2015 Abu Dhabi GP, F1
Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Iamges
• F1 starts: 47 (1989 – 1992, 1994 – 1995)
• F1 wins: 0
• F1 championships: 0
Bertrand Gachot would have a torrid time in F1 and emerge with little success to show for it. Born in Luxembourg, Gachot first raced in F1 in 1989 for Onyx. As a driver who regularly moved from one team to another he would also drive for Rial, Coloni, Jordan and Larrousse before seeing out his last two seasons at Pacific. In late 1990, in an incident that shocked the world of motorsport, he sprayed a taxi driver with CS gas after a minor accident in London and received a prison sentence. His detention would allow Michael Schumacher to make his debut as Bertrand’s replacement at Jordan.
Gachot struggled in F1 with uncompetitive machinery but did score three points finishes in 1991 with Jordan and a further points finish with Larrousse at the 1992 Monaco GP. But Gachot did enjoy motorsport success elsewhere, namely when he won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Mazda in 1991 driving with Johnny Herbert and Volker Weidler.
Although energy drinks had been around since the 1940s, they became significantly more popular from the mid-1980s and Gachot was saw an opportunity to be a part of this. His involvement with Hype Energy started in 1997 when he signed a distribution deal for France. Although the company had problems, Gachot remained committed to it and in 1998 approached the owners of the company identity to purchase it. He finally did this in 2000 and then took the company forwards by leading a programme of restructuring to give a boost to the brand.
He remains as CEO of a company that now sells in more than 40 countries from manufacturing bases in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands. Things came full circle with Hype entering the F1 paddock as a sponsor, most notably with the Force India team in 2015.
Stefan Johansson
Photo by: Mark Lewis Photography
• F1 starts: 79 (1983 – 1991)
• F1 wins: 0
• F1 championships: 0
When Stefan Johansson joined the 1980’s F1 scene, little did anyone suspect he would go on to display an uncanny knack of joining historically successful teams at a time when they were going through a bad patch.
The Swede entered his first F1 race with Spirit in 1983, with the results one would expect from a car that only ever bothered the back of the grid. Then he worked his way up through Tyrrell and Toleman to championship titans Ferrari and McLaren, arriving just when their winning ways had deserted them. After a good run of 11 years in F1, Johansson would finish his time with Ligier in 1991. Sadly, a win remained elusive but 12 podiums point to an inherent potential on the occasions when car matched ability.
Although conforming to the Scandinavian stereotype of having a “deep interest in design”, Johansson only picked up a brush when the loss of his good friend, Elio de Angelis, in testing during the 1986 season prompted him to paint something in his honour. Johansson’s racing career would continue after F1, most notably winning the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Porsche with Michele Alboreto and Tom Kristensen in 1997, but as racing became less a part of his life so his artistic output grew.
His work covers a number of different media and styles with prints and original pieces available from his online shop. The motivational poster-esque photographs are perhaps the weakest of his collections but the provocatively named “Friends, Heroes and Wankers” displays a more focused approach. The “text portraits”, similar to those of Ueltzhoeffer, show Johansson’s particular interests with the underlying paintings hinting at Warhol. Warhol being one of the subjects for this series along with Ayrton Senna, Enzo Ferrari and Ayn Rand among others.
The motor racing enthusiast is perhaps more likely to be drawn to the abstract and semi abstract paintings that are informed by Johansson’s career behind the wheel. Clearly a fan of pointillism, the images of cars are given a distinct style that works well with the dissolving of form hinting at movement and speed. By contrast the abstract series “Memories of Another Life” all follow the same basic form, drawing the viewer into a central point but with colours presumably defined by the artist’s experience of driving the corners they are named after.
With scented candles and designer watches now joining the range it would appear that this ex-F1 driver at least has found an outlet for his talent as far away from the hard edged world of the pitlane as it’s possible to get.
Thierry Boutsen
Photo by: Rainer Schlegelmilch
• F1 starts: 163 (1983 – 1993)
• F1 wins: 3
• F1 championships: 0
Thierry Boutsen had to pay for his F1 debut drive with Arrows in 1983 but then went on to establish himself as a consistently strong competitor. He stayed with Arrows until the 1987 season when he moved to Benetton for a couple of years followed by Williams, then Ligier and finally Jordan in 1993. Although Boutsen’s best year would be 1988 when his Benetton took him to fourth in the world drivers’ championship, he followed this with an impressive fifth and sixth with Williams in the following two years.
Boutsen bought his first small aircraft in 1987, later selling it to buy a better one and then repeating this process several times during his driving career. His knowledge of the market led to him advising other drivers on their aircraft and it was from this that he started his career in dealing in private planes. Thierry set up Boutsen Aviation with his wife, Daniela, in 1997 specifically to broker second hand jets. Their Monaco based company has now sold over 400 aircraft and has expanded to include turbo-prop powered planes as well as helicopters.
What started as the natural extension of a personal interest is now a company with a number of employees which provides a complete service from sourcing aircraft to inspection and sales. Daniela Boutsen has also taken the opportunity to provide an interior design service to help refit your private jet once purchased. It is perhaps unusual that an interest enabled by the glamorous world of F1 has allowed Thierry Boutsen to build an equally glamorous business after leaving it.
Carlos Reutemann, Brabham BT44B
Photo by: David Phipps
• F1 starts: 146 (1972 – 1982)
• F1 wins: 12
• F1 championships: 0
The Argentinian Carlos Reutemann, universally known as “Lole” to friends and colleagues was very much the “nearly man” of the late 1970s and early 1980s Formula 1 scene. Reutemann was F1 world title runner-up in 1981, losing out on the title by one point to Nelson Piquet, while he also finished third in the standings in 1975, 1978 and 1980.
The impression generally held is that if the car was performing well he was all-but unbeatable, but a sub-standard car would lead to a lack of commitment on his part. Debuting with Brabham in 1974, he saw one of his championship high water marks with them before doing so again at Ferrari and then a couple of times at Williams before finally retiring in 1982.
After leaving F1, Reutemann’s popularity led to him being invited to stand for the Justicialist Party, set up by Juan Peron in 1946, a centre-left movement that had always done well with the poorer sections of Argentina’s society. He was successful in this and served as the Governor of the Santa Fe province from 1991 to 1995. Limited by law to non-consecutive terms he would later return for another four-year stint in this post and successfully led the province through a national recession.
Good enough to be considered for running for President, he won a seat in the National Senate in 2003 and then in 2009 created his own party centred on protecting the interests of Santa Fe. He would spend the rest of his life serving his country, remaining in office until his death in 2021.
Innes Ireland
Photo by: David Phipps
• F1 starts: 50 (1959 – 1966)
• F1 wins: 1
• F1 championships: 0
Robert McGregor Innes Ireland was born in Yorkshire but grew up in his father’s native Scotland. He trained as an engineer at Rolls Royce (his greatest achievement being blowing up a supercharger on a Merlin engine) before making his F1 debut in 1959 with Team Lotus. He went on to take their first win at Watkins Glen in 1961.
Despite this Ireland left Lotus to join UDT-Laystall in 1962 followed by BRP, Reg Parnell Racing and finally Bernard White Racing who were running a BRM in 1966. Following his success with Lotus in 1962, Innes wouldn’t even get the opportunity to compete in a full season again and during his later career never finished higher than fourth.
Innes was a gifted writer, being a natural story teller, and journalism would become a constant source of income for the rest of his life, but this didn’t stop him from branching out into other areas of interest. He imported the Swedish built Snow-Trac during the mid-1960s with Ian Scott Watson but that business didn’t make it past 1966. A stint at Autocar followed then he got into fishing in 1970.
The plan was to fish for scallops and lobsters, Innes being ahead of his time for seeing the demand for this type of high end produce. A move back up to the West of Scotland saw him upgrade to a trawler and eventually building up to a fleet of three boats. Given Innes’ buccaneering approach to life and habit of adding the odd embellishment to stirring tales it comes as no surprise to find that his adventures on the high seas were as rich a source for stories of derring-do as was his motor racing.
One example was the time he hadn’t bothered to paint the UK registration on his newly bought Norwegian boat, leading to him being chased and fired on by a Fisheries Protection Corvette. Despite some success, this particular adventure came to an end in 1977. When asked about the cause of its failure he replied that as the best lobsters were to be found in among the rocks he kept punching holes in his boats.
Innes returned to journalism and would become President of the BRDC before he succumbed to cancer in 1993.
Phil Hill
Photo by: Rainer Schlegelmilch
• F1 starts: 49 (1958 – 1964, 1966)
• F1 wins: 3
• F1 championships: 1 (1961)
Phil Hill made his F1 debut driving a Maserati in 1958 but would soon sign for Ferrari. Despite only racking up three wins during his eight-year career in F1, he would take the world championship in 1961 at the wheel of the legendary 156 “Sharknose”. Hill left the team at the end of 1962 to join ATS, newly formed by disenchanted Ferrari employees, and then Cooper before retiring in 1966.
He had always displayed a mechanical ability and as early as 1955 restored the family Pierce-Arrow to win the Pebble Beach Concourse, the event having been set up five years earlier. In 1967, with racing left behind, he turned to restoring his own collection of cars.
Through this he would soon meet up with Ken Vaughn and together they set up the Hill and Vaughn company. It is notable that despite the fact they initially worked together on their own cars, buying in then restoring and selling on, demand from other owners led to this becoming established as one of the first premier restoration businesses. Although a number of car restorations at this time focused on cosmetics, Hill and Vaughan led the way in offering a comprehensive in-house service including “nut and bolt” rebuilds. 1977 would be the year that the company took their first Pebble Beach “Best of Show” and their cars have regularly made appearances ever since.
Hill’s influence spread much further than straightforward restoration. As well as being a founding member of the Classic Car Club of America, he was also a prominent supporter of the emerging historic racing car scene in the early 1970s, giving it a level of credibility that it may otherwise have lacked.
Then there was his collection of ephemera, Hill seemed to understand long before most how even a humble artefact can speak to us and help tell a story. When he started down this path, excepting a few notable examples, older cars tended to be looked on as the preserve of eccentrics with many historic mementos seen as being of limited interest at best. Hill was a trailblazer of the classic car scene as it is today and helped shape it into what it has become. To think of him, post competition, as being merely a “car restorer” would be to seriously underestimate his legacy.
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