Who is Formula One racing's newest team boss?
The name of BARs new sporting director, Gil de Ferran, may not be too familiar to all Formula One fans - in Europe at least. In America, however, his reputation as one of motorsports most diverse driving talents precedes him.
Born in Paris, France, the son of a Ford Motor Company executive, de Ferran moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil when he was nine months old. He began racing karts at the age of 14 and by the age of 19, de Ferran won the Brazilian Formula Ford 1600 Championship. That success prompted him to leave Engineering College in Sao Paulo and move to England in 1988 to continue his career in racing.
De Ferran moved up the ladder steadily. By 1991, he was in British Formula 3 and in his second season, driving for Jackie Stewart's sons team Paul Stewart Racing, captured the British F3 Championship, taking seven victories. He moved into the FIA Formula 3000 Series for the next two seasons, winning a total of three races and finishing third in 1994, still driving for the same team.
In 1995, enticed by the legendary Jim Hall, de Ferran moved to the United States to begin racing on the Indy Car circuit and immediately won Rookie of the Year Honours with one victory that season. In 2000, de Ferran joined Team Penske, the team with the most wins in motorsport history, together they won two consecutive CART championships (2000 & 2001), becoming only the fourth driver in history to achieve this feat. In addition, de Ferran became The Fastest Man in the World when he set the closed course speed record by completing a lap at 241.428 mph at California Speedway on October 28, 2000.
In May 2003 his profile hit another peak when he took the chequered flag at the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500. De Ferran went on to retire at the end of that season with a victory in his final race, ending a highly successful 23 year driving career.
De Ferran has always taken a keen interest in Formula One racing, attending Grands Prix, particularly in the US and his native Brazil. Last year he took part in the Goodwood Festival of Speed, driving an ex-Ayrton Senna McLaren up the famous hill.