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Of Bertrand Gachot’s absence and Michael Schumacher’s arrival

By Feroz Khan | Last Updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 16:16

Feroz Khan

With the conclusion of 2012 Formula One season that saw Sebastian Vettel claiming a third consecutive world title, another thrilling year has come to an end. The fight for the crown went to the final race in Brazil that was won by Jenson Button.

However, Vettel stole the limelight by becoming the third ever driver in the Formula One history to win three back to back titles.

The race also saw Formula One legend Michael Schumacher calling time on his illustrious racing career for the second time.

The second outing was a forgettable one for the German compared to his first stint during which he won a record seven world titles. His best result came in 2012 at the European Grand Prix when he took the only podium finish since his comeback in 2010.

It was a quiet walk into the sunset unlike in 2006 when he had announced his retirement in advance after winning the Italian Grand Prix. But to everyone’s surprise he made a comeback.

Among those who know Schumacher (there is hardly anyone who can claim to be unaware of his existence) a certain Bertrand Gachot won’t ring any bells for the majority.

Unlike the German, this self-proclaimed multinational (Belgian, French and European at different periods of time) has just one significant achievement to his name. However, while remembering Schumacher, Gachot’s name will certainly feature while tracing his F1 career from the beginning.

He is someone whose conduct or misconduct (to be specific) on the streets of England opened the doors of the amazing world of racing for an unknown person who would dominate it to an extent that in certain parts of the world his name would become synonymous with the F1 racing.

Bertrand Gachot, born to a French European Commission official, was a racer whose career was affected due to an incident that saw him being arrested for two months.

After that his F1 career went up in smoke. As opposed to the modern drivers, Gachot began racing at a relatively old age.

At 15 he began racing karts. His professional career began with Formula Ford 1600 and British Formula Ford 2000.

He won both of the titles and later moved to British F3. After racing in Formula 3000 for a full season, where he finished fifth in final standings, he graduated to Formula 1 by joining Onyx.

After spending two insignificant years with the team, he finally joined Jordan in 1991. At this point of time, his career seemed to have taken off.

However, he sprayed tear gas on a taxi driver in England that landed him two months in prison the same year he joined the outfit.

The use of CS gas, banned in the country at that time, on the cab driver meant he was unavailable for the rest of the season (six races) after a 9th place finish in Hungary.It was this absence that led Jordan to offer Gachot’s driving seat to Michael Schumacher, who made his debut in Belgian Grand Prix.

It is another thing that this proved to be his only race for the Silverstone-based outfit as the future winner of 91 F1 races signed a contract with Benetton Formula Ltd for the rest of the season.

Gachot returned to F1 with Larrousse in 1992, completing the full season with the team.

His best result came at Monaco Grand Prix where he finished sixth. Later, he raced for Pacific racing for two years (in 1994 and 1995).

Outside F1, his highest achievement was winning 24 Hours of Le Mans title in 1991 with Jonny Herbert and Volker Weidler.

Gachot might not have won a single F1 race but his name will be remembered for being the one whose absence heralded Schumacher’s arrival.

First Published: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 16:26

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