For most of the racing fans Gianmaria 'Gimmi' Bruni is known as the former Formula One driver, although he spent only one season in F1, driving for Minardi. In a fact, Bruni is one of the best active GT racing drivers, with two world titles and three Le Mans victories in his pocket, plus few more championship titles with GT cars in different competitions. All his titles Bruni has won after driving Ferraris.
Two championship title in the early years of a career
Gianmaria Bruni was born on May 30th, 1981, in Rome. After racing with karts as a teenager, Bruni switched to open-wheelers in 1997, entering the Italian Formula Renault. He won the championship title in 1998. In 1999, Bruni progressed to the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and has won one more title, ahead of Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia.
Four seasons in the Formula 3 and Formula 3000
Bruni's career continued in the 2000 British Formula 3 Championship with Fortec Motorsports. Reaching two podiums in 14 races, Bruni finished 5h in the points. The champion was Bruni's old rival Pizzonia. Bruni stayed one more season with Fortec in the British F3, again finishing fifth in the championship.
In 2002, Bruni competed in only three races of the Euro Formula 3000 championship and two races of the FIA Sportscar Championship. His program in the Euro Formula 3000 was expanded to the full season in 2003. Bruni was driving for ADM Motorsport and he won three races to finish third in the championship.
Formula One season with Minardi
Such a good result resulted in a deal with Minardi F1 team. Bruni tested Minardi's car in second part of 2003 season and entered the Formula One championship in 2004. The Cosworth-powered Minardi PS04B wasn't competitive and both Minardi's drivers were regularly at the back. While Zsolt Baumgartner managed to score one point, Bruni's best result was 14th place in three races and he finished the season with no points on his account.
Two seasons in the GP2 Series
After his first and only season in the Formula One, Bruni stepped back at the ladder, entering the GP2 Series, which was the supporting series of Formula One. In nine rounds with Coloni Motorsport, Bruni won the race in Barcelona and finished second in Monaco. The last two rounds he was driving for Durango team. Bruni was tenth in the 2005 GP2 Series season. In 2006, Bruni continued to race in the GP2 Series, moving to the Trident Racing. He scored two wins at Imola and Hockenheim to finish seventh in the points.
Bruni became the GT driver in 2007
It was Bruni's last season in the single-seater racing, the next and much more successful chapter of his career started in 2007, when he became the Ferrari driver in different GT competitions. Since 2007, Bruni was driving only Ferraris and he became the synonym for the Italian brand in GT racing.
In his first season with Ferrari Bruni almost reached the top. He finished second in the GT2 class of the FIA GT Championship, driving the Ferrari F430 GT for AF Corse. He won three of nine races (Monza, Oschersleben and Nogaro), sharing the car with Stephane Ortelli, to lost the title by seven points behind teammates Toni Vilander and Dirk Müller.
Driving for three different teams in 2007
Bruni also won the race at Silverstone, which was the part of the Le Mans Series. He competed in the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari F430 GTC alongside Rob Bell. At the American ground, Bruni participated in the American Le Mans Series, driving for Risi Competizione. He scored two podiums in four races, sharing the car with Eric Helary.
The season 2008 started with the retirement at 12 hours of Sebring, in the Risi Competizione's Ferrari. After that, Bruni had a fantastic season with nine victories in the FIA GT Championship and Le Mans Series and one special victory at 24 hours of Le Mans.
FIA GT title and first Le Mans win in 2008
In the FIA GT Championship Bruni was put together in the AF Corse's car with reigning champion Toni Vilander and it was the winning combination. They won six of ten races to dominantly took the title. In the Le Mans Series, Bruni was sharing the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari with Rob Bell again. They won three of four races together and Bruno was third in the points, while Bell took the title because he ran more races than Bruni.
The highlight of the year was 2008 Le Mans race. In his Le Mans debut, Bruni competed in the #82 Ferrari F430 GT2 of Risi Competizione, alongside Mika Salo and Jaime Melo. They finished 19th overall and first in GT2 class, eight laps ahead nearest rivals.
Two seasons with lots of wins but without titles
In 2009, the season again started with 12 hours of Sebring. Bruni was driving for the Advanced Engineering Pecom Racing Team, together with Matias Russo and Luis Perez-Companc. Their Ferrari F430 GTC finished second in GT2 class. Bruni competed with the same teammates at 2009 Le Mans race, in the AF Corse Ferrari, finishing 6th in GT2 class.
Bruni's partner in the 2009 FIA GT Championship was Toni Vilander. With three wins in eight races the AF Corse crew finished second in the points. Bruni also finished second in the Le Mans Series, scoring two wins for JMW Motorsport together with Rob Bell.
One more season without titles followed in 2010. Bruni competed full season in the AmericanLe Mans Series with Risi Competizione, sharing the car with Pierre Kaffer and Jaime Melo. At the end of the season, after three wins in nine races, Bruni finished second in the points. Kaffer and Melo joined Bruno at 2010 Le Mans race, but they didn't reach the finish line.
Partnering Fisichella since 2011
In 2011, the new car entered the competition and Bruni gets a new partner. The car was Ferrari 458 Italia GT2, the new partner was Giancarlo Fisichella. The new AF Corse duo won the drivers' and teams' titles in the GTE Pro class of the Le Mans Series. At 24 hours of Le Mans, they finished second in class, with Toni Vilander as the third member of the crew. Bruni participated in two races of the American Le Mans Series, winning Petit Le Mans.
Second win at 24 hours of Le Mans in 2011
The season 2012 started at 24 hours of Daytona, with retirement in the Risi Competizione's Ferrari. Bruno shared the car with Fisichella and Raphael Matos. Bruni competed in the full season of revived FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and scored three wins, including his second class victory at Le Mans 24-hour race. Bruni's partners were Fisichella and Vilander.
International GT Open and FIA WEC champion
Bruno also competed the full season in the International GT Open, sharing the AF Corse car with Federico Leo. The Italian duo won three races and took the title with just one points gap ahead of Manthey Racing's Marco Holzer and Nick Tandy.
In the 2013 FIA WEC, Bruni won the world endurance championship trophy for GT drivers. Duo Bruni-Fisichella secured team's title for AF Corse. They won three races that season, but not 24 hours of Le Mans. At Circuit de la Sarthe, they finished 6th in the GTE Pro class.
In 2014, Bruni won the championship and Le Mans
Bruni took one more world championship title in 2014, this time with four wins in eight races, including his third class victory at Le Mans. Bruni's co-drivers in the victorious #51 Ferrari were Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander.
In 2015, two victories in the World Endurance Championship races, at Silverstone and Fuji, was enough for second place. At 2015 24 hours of Le Mans race, the trio Bruni-Fisichella-Vilander finished third in class.
The new car and new partner in 2016
In 2016, it was time for another change of the car and teammate. The new AF Corse's machine in the international competition is Ferrari 488 GTE, the new Bruni's teammate is James Calado. The season in the FIA WEC started with the podium at 6 hours of Silverstone.