Although a respectable driver, Bruno Giacomelli’s Formula 1 career is best remembered for the way in which he helped hand victory at the 1978 British GP to Carlo’s Reutemann’s Ferrari - he veered into leader Niki Lauda’s path as the Austrian came up to lap his McLaren M26.
Giacomelli was a popular part-time McLaren team member in 1977/78, spending most of his racing mileage driving an M26 which was facing stiff opposition from Ferrari, Brabham, Lotus and Wolf’s cars by the summer of ‘78.
The Italian made his debut at his home GP at Monza in 1977 but retired his M23 with engine failure. He drove an M26 for the first time in Belgium the following year and a seventh place at Brands Hatch his best result as a McLaren driver.
Giacomelli graduated from Formula Italia and then F3 as he fought his way to the top of international racing, eventually forging a competitive reputation in Formula 2 in 1977 before blitzing his way to the European F2 title in 1978 at the wheel of a works March-BMW with eight wins out of 12 races.
After his relationship with McLaren ended in 1979, Giacomelli was recruited by Alfa Romeo. It was a learning year but in 1980, after the tragic death of his team-mate Patrick Depailler in a testing accident at Hockenheim, he rose to the occasion in impressive style. However, the Alfas didn’t have the reliability to match their occasionally impressive pace, and a third place at the 1981 Caesar’s Palace GP in Las Vegas was the only podium finish he posted in three and a half years with the Italian squad.
In 1983 he joined Derek Warwick at Toleman, but a sixth place at that year’s European GP at Brands Hatch was the best he could manage that season and his career appeared to be over.
He was invited back into Formula 1 seven years later when he drove the uncompetitive Life L190 W12 after Gary Brabham left the team. The car rarely completed more than a few hundred yards under its own power and that was the end of Giacomelli’s Formula 1 career.