- April 20, 1963
- Not Active
- March-Judd,Jordan-Yamaha,Leyton House-Ilmor,Leyton House-Judd
Mauricio Gugelmin is a former racing driver from Brazil who competed in the Formula One World Championship and CART Series.
Successful beginning of career
He was born on 20th of April 1963 in Joinville, in the northeast of the State of Santa Catarina, close to the Atlantic coast. As a son of wealthy merchant and antique cars collector, so as a boy Mauricio was fascinated with cars. At the age of 8, he began to race karting and the success was instants. Gugelmin was a local champion for nine years in a row while in 1980 he became a national champion.
In the following year, he progressed to single-seaters and won the Brazilian Formula Fiat Championship title in the first attempt. After so many success, he decided to try his luck in Europe and in 1982 Gugelmin went to the United Kingdom with a wish to make a breakthrough in major competitions.
Growing up with Ayrton Senna
Interestingly, when he arrived in the UK, Mauricio shared a house in Egham with his compatriot and another Brazilian rising star Ayrton Senna who arrived earlier and was very supportive to his younger colleague. Mauricio debuted in British Formula Ford 1600cc with the Van Diemen team and immediately became a champion.
In 1983, Gugelmin became a runner-up in Formula Ford 2000cc before progressing to European Formula Ford in 1984. The next stop was British Formula 3 in 1985. He won three races and took the title at his first attempt with a consistent series of results as a driver of West Surrey Racing. The same year he also triumphed at prestigious Macau Grand Prix.
Brazilian driver obviously was talented and it was almost sure that he will make an F1 debut in the foreseeable future. Before moving to the most popular racing series, he spent two years racing in International Formula 3000 with West Surrey Racing and Team Ralt. His only race win was in 1987 at Silverstone. The same year Gugelmin finished 4th in the championship, behind Stefano Modena, Luis Perez-Sala, and Roberto Moreno.
Move to Formula 1
Before the end of 1987, it was announced that Gugelmin will join the March Racing Team to drive in the 1988 Formula 1 World Championship alongside Ivan Capelli. After a disappointing start of the campaign when he retired from five races, Mauricio’s results improved in mid-season and was able to score twice. He finished 4th in the British Grand Prix and soon was 5th at Hungaroring. With five points in his books, Gugelmin took the 13th place in the championship what was a solid result for a rookie.
The team was renamed to Leyton House in 1989 and the start of the campaign was excellent for the Brazilian driver. He finished 3rd at his home Grand Prix in Rio de Janeiro, behind Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost. That was first and the last podium finish in his F1 career. The rest of the season wasn’t as good. Gugelmin again had too many retirements, survived a huge crash at French Grand Prix, and finished 16th overall with four points scored in Brazil.
Struggling with the underdogs
Gugelmin stayed with Leyton House for another two years. In 1990 he scored points in F1 for the last time after taking the 6th place in the Belgian Grand Prix. The car wasn’t competitive enough and the Brazilian driver again had a big number of retirements and even failed to go through pre-qualifying on four occasions. The season of 1991 wasn’t as bad despite he failed to pick a single point. After really poor firs half of the season, Gugelmin in the second half did much better and thrice finished 7th, narrowly missing to score.
In 1992 he signed with Jordan Yamaha team but the results again were poor. The team struggled financially, the car was slow and unreliable so it wasn’t a surprise that Gugelmin retired from 11 out of 16 races. The best result in his last F1 season was the 7th place at Imola.
Move to the US and debut in the CART Series
After failing in an attempt to find a new drive in Formula 1, Gugelmin tried his fortune in the US. Late in 1993, he got an opportunity to race in the last three events of the CART Series with Dick Simon Racing. He retired on his debut at Mid-Ohio, as well as at Nazareth before finishing 13th in the season-closing race at Laguna Seca.
A bit surprisingly, Mauricio signed with Chip Ganassi Racing in 1994 to partner Michael Andretti. The first full-time season in the series was relatively good for the Brazilian driver. He had six finishes in Top 10 and took the 16th position in the Championship with 39 points.
Seven years spent with PacWest Racing team
In 1995 Gugelmin signed with PacWest Racing and spent the rest of his career with that team. The start was promising as he finished 2nd in the season-opening race at Miami, losing to Jacques Villeneuve who will become a champion later that year. Mauricio also finished 3rd in the last race of the season at Laguna Seca what propelled him to the 10th place in the Championship with 80 points.
The following season was a small step backward. Mauricio twice scored a podium finish at Michigan but the other results weren’t as good, so he dropped to the 14th place in the final classification.
Gugelmin scored his only win in 1997
Gugelmin’s third year with PasWest was the best in his CART career. The Brazilian scored his first and only victory in the series at Vancouver street circuit, finished 2nd at Long Beach and Road America and ultimately finished 4th in the championship, behind Alex Zanardi, Gil de Ferran, and Jimmy Vasser.
Many were thinking that Gugelmin’s progress will continue but the results worsened. In 1998 he dropped to the 15th position overall, with only two Top 5 finishes. The following year was even worse as he scored just one Top 5 before taking the 16th place in the championship.
Gugelmin scored his last podium in 2000 when he was 2nd at Nazareth Speedway. At the same time, that was his only Top 5 finish that year and final in his career. After too many retirements, Mauricio finished 17th in the standings while in 2001, his last season in the series, he was 24th, with just 17 points, the lowest number in his CART career.
End of career
When he left CART Series, Gugelmin ended his racing career. There was a possibility to compete in the Brazilian Renault Megane Super Cup but that never happened because the series wasn’t launched.
Mauricio lives in Brazil and runs the family business with his brother. He also did a consultancy work for AMG.