Top ten: Jobs for a retired Formula One driver

Top Ten

Mark Webber is on his way out of Formula One at the end of the year. But he already has his next career move lined up with a switch to Porsche’s World Endurance Championship team.

However some ex-drivers have had rather more unconventional post-F1 career choices. Here are a few more unusual ideas for when the current crop of drivers hang up their helmets.

Sell cars

Juan Manuel Fangio

Juan Manuel Fangio, Mercedes, Reims, 1954Juan Manuel Fangio’s relationship with Mercedes-Benz, who he won two of his five world championships with, continued long after his racing career.

Fangio opened a Mercedes dealership in his home town of Balcarce, and in 1974 he was appointed the President of Mercedes-Benz Argentina.

He wasn’t the only driver to sell cars for a living after F1. Tony Brooks, a rival of Fangio’s who won six Grands Prix, bought and ran his own Ford garage next to the former Brooklands circuit near London.

Sell planes

Thierry Boutsen

Three-times Grand Prix winner Thierry Boutsen?óÔé¼Ôäós association with expensive machinery did not end when he retired from Formula One in 1993. The wealthy Belgian driver had owned and sold airplanes throughout his racing career, and in 1997 he and his wife formed their own company, Boutsen Aviation.

The Monaco-based group has since sold more than 250 planes – including helicopters to corporate jets – with total sales now exceeding $1 billion .

Of course, having extensive contacts in the moneyed F1 paddock did Boutsen?óÔé¼Ôäós business no harm. The company?óÔé¼Ôäós clientele includes the likes of Mika Hakkinen, Keke Rosberg and Heinz Harald Frentzen.

Another famous example of a driver getting involved in aviation after his F1 career is Niki Lauda, who ran his own airline Lauda Air which has recently been rebranded as Austrian myHoliday.

Sell pasta

Paolo Barilla

Former Minardi driver Paolo Barilla had the perfect safety net when his racing career faltered. He became the vice president of his family’s lucrative pasta company Barilla Group, one of the world’s biggest.

It was largely because of his family’s pasta money that Barilla had been able to make it to F1 in he first place. He made his debut for Minardi at Suzuka in 1989, and was appointed full-time driver for the following season.

But after failing to qualify for several races in 1990, and being completely outshone by his teammate Pierluigi Martini, Barilla was dropped for the final two races of the campaign, and retreated to the familiar world of pasta.

Yet he was more than just a pay driver – Barilla had enjoyed much greater success in sports cars, with victory in the 1985 Le Mans 24 Hours the highlight of his racing career. The Barilla company later sponsored Alessandro Zanardi.

Run a sat nav company

Nelson Piquet

Nelson Piquet, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2013Three-times world champion Nelson Piquet may be a divisive figure but he certainly has the Midas touch, enjoying business success to match his on-track achievements.

Since retiring from F1 in 1991 (and recovering from a major IndyCar crash in 1992) Piquet’s biggest success has been Autotrac, a company which produces sat nav and monitoring systems for Brazilian freight trucks. Founded in 1994, it has expanded hugely over the years, and Piquet retains a shareholding in the company.

In addition to this and other business interests, Piquet has managed the racing career of his son, for whom he formed the racing team Piquet Sports. More recently, he starred alongside his former nemesis Nigel Mansell in Ford adverts in Brazil.

Preach the gospel

Alex Ribeiro

Alex Dias Ribeiro’s F1 career was something of a damp squib. He only qualified for half of the 20 races he entered in the late seventies and failed to score a point. A deeply religious man, Ribeiro raced with the slogan “Salva Cristo” (Jesus Saves) daubed across his overalls and sometimes his car.

His evangalising mission moved up a gear after his racing career ended. An encounter with an albino frog while digging a well on his farm (I’m not making this up!) prompted Ribeiro to join the Athletes of Christ, a Brazilian organisation dedicated to promoting Christianity amongst athletes.

Drive the Medical Car

Alex Ribeiro (again)

Spreading the word of God alone was clearly not enough to keep Ribeiro busy, and he returned to F1 in 1999 for an eventful stint as the Medical Car driver.

It didn’t start well: During the Saturday morning safety exercise before practice at Monaco in 2000 Ribeiro smashed the Mercedes C55 AMG estate into the barriers at Tabac. He was unhurt, but FIA medical delegate Sid Watkins suffered three broken ribs. The car was written off.

Two years later Ribeiro’s Medical Car was involved in another crash at Interlagos, but this time he was blameless. He had parked his car at the Senna S after Enrique Bernoldi crashed during the pre-race warm-up. But no sooner had he opened the door than it was torn from its hinges by Nick Heidfeld’s out-of-control Sauber:

Fortunately Ribeiro escaped unscathed. You can probably guess who he thanked for this miraculous deliverance.

Become a politician

Carlos Reutemann

One of the most talented drivers never to win the world championship, Carlos Reutemann is sadly best remembered for his ignominious defeat in the 1981 title decider at Las Vegas. Two races into the following season he abruptly called time on his F1 career.

Regardless of his rather undignified exit, Reutemann’s racing exploits had made him a popular figure in his native Argentina, and he used this recognition to forge a career in Argentinian politics.

Reutemann was appointed governor of Santa Fe, Argentina’s third most populous province, for two four year terms in 1991 and 1999. There was even speculation that he might make a bid for the national presidency, though this never materialised.

Run a farm

Jody Scheckter

Having won the world championship in 1979, Jody Scheckter quit Grand Prix racing the following year, aged just 30.

But he has kept himself busy since then. His first venture was a weapons training system, which he bought shortly after his racing retirement and sold at a huge profit 12 years later.

He is now engaged in a more peaceful but no less successful pursuit. Scheckter bought and invested millions of pounds in Laverstoke Park Farm in southern England, from where he sells his own range of multi-award-winning organic produce.

Scheckter hasn’t completely cut all ties with his former career, though. An on-site garage contains several of the cars he drove during his F1 career, including his title-winning Ferrari 312T4.

Buy an energy drink company

Bertrand Gachot

Jacques Villeneuve, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Williams, Melbourne, 1997Energy drink sponsorship is currently in vogue in Formula One so perhaps it won’t be long before another driver takes a leaf from Bertrand Gachot’s book and creates a brand of his own.

The Luxembourger, best known for his assault on a taxi driver in 1991 which opened up a place on the grid for Michael Schumacher, enjoyed little success in his F1 career. Gachot failed to qualify for almost half of the races he entered, and only managed to score five points.

After a two year stint in Japanese GT racing, Gachot began to focus on his business interests. One of his investments was in Hype, an energy drinks producer whose logos appeared on Williams’ cars in the late nineties. Gachot struck a deal to distribute Hype drinks in France, and it was such a success he bought the company outright in 2000.

Take over F1

Bernie Ecclestone

Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Bernie Ecclestone, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Korea, 2010Stretching the definition of ‘F1 driver’ a little, Formula One overlord Bernie Ecclestone made an appearance at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix.

At the time Ecclestone was in possession of a pair of Connaught B-series cars, one of which he drove during practice for the race. This may have just been a ruse to collect the start money for the entry, which Ecclestone later said he lost in one of Monaco’s casinos. He appeared on the track again at Silverstone later that year.

But his skills were clearly better employed as a team and driver manager. In 1974 he formed the Formula One Constructors Association and eventually took control of the sport’s lucrative television rights. Today he occupies a position of unparalled importance in the sport, and though recent events have put it in jeopardy it remains hard to imagine the sport without Ecclestone at its apex.

Over to you

Which drivers on the current grid do you think would be best suited to these jobs? And which other drivers do you recall having unusual post-F1 careers? Have your say in the comments.

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132 comments on Top ten: Jobs for a retired Formula One driver

  1. JCost said on 7th August 2013, 14:16

    @keithcollantine in Portuguese “Salva Jesus” means “Save Jesus” :) The correct translation of “Jesus saves” is “Jesus salva”.

    On jobs for retired drivers

    Become a R&B singer…

    • celeste said on 7th August 2013, 14:30

      Become a R&B singer…

      hehehehe or any kind of Singer.. just ask Jackes Villeneuve for advice ;)

      • Matt Clark said on 7th August 2013, 15:41

        I’m looking forward to hearing Lewis Hamilton’s album :P

        • celeste said on 7th August 2013, 16:40

          Probably a Grammy winner!

          • Max Jacobson said on 7th August 2013, 17:38

            @celeste the quality of the Grammys has really dropped hasn’t it? ;)

          • JCost said on 7th August 2013, 21:02

            @celeste and he will perform at MTV Video Music Awards :)

          • celeste said on 7th August 2013, 22:42

            @jcost Well since is been ages since MTv brodcaste music, now they only do Teen girls getting pregnant programs , it seem like a reasonable place to debut a song about an old woman wanting to get pregnant runs for cover

        • Traverse said on 7th August 2013, 18:26

          I’ve actually heard his first song, It’s called I don’t date mingers. It’s a dig at Nicole, apparently. The first verse goes like this:
          “Yo listen up people, listen mofo’s, yo eh yo, the name is Lewis Ham and they aint nobody faster, I zoom around the track like a runaway hamster, I could set the fastest time wid no fingers just my thumbs, ya can’t mess wid me coz I gots the biggest plums y’all! Note to self – don’t date no more mingers and that’s me y’all…peace.”

          • celeste said on 7th August 2013, 19:01

            "Yo listen up people, listen mofo’s, yo eh yo, the name is Lewis Ham and they aint nobody faster, I zoom around the track like a runaway hamster, I could set the fastest time wid no fingers just my thumbs, ya can’t mess wid me coz I gots the biggest plums y’all! Note to self – don’t date no more mingers and that’s me y’all…peace.”

            Eminem couldn´t have write something so profound… ;)

            @vettel1 as long don´t as they don´t give one to the Bieber they are still fine

          • Max Jacobson said on 8th August 2013, 12:03

            @celeste true enough, although personally I think the general quality of music has definitely been on a downward trend! And this is coming from someone who has grown up in the download age ;)

    • Blackmamba said on 7th August 2013, 18:10

      I reckon Hamilton can become part of the next big double act with his pussycat doll.
      Ike and Tina
      Cher and Sonny
      Nic and Lew

      Or maybe Lew and Roscoe, I don’t know.

  2. Traverse said on 7th August 2013, 14:37

    It would be good if a former driver were to take over from Bernie when he chooses to grace us with is absence. I’d nominate Schumi (or Rubinho).

    • Traverse said on 7th August 2013, 14:38

      Or Prost.

      • Bazza Spock said on 8th August 2013, 0:21

        We keep getting told it’ll be a faceless committee after Bernie, but if it wasn’t I’d put my money on Christian Horner.

        • BasCB said on 8th August 2013, 7:15

          what makes you think Horner has what it takes to run that job @bazza-spock.

          He doesn’t even manage to be on top of his own management team (viz. Marko) and drivers. Does that qualify him to outfox the FIA, a double dozen of track managements, a dozen of teams, and juggle the governments and sponsors involved nicely to keep it going somehow.

    • andae23 said on 7th August 2013, 14:58

      To be honest the only thing I really want from CVC is that they let the FIA and the teams figure out what’s good for F1, and that CVC itself gets a more passive attitude. So the only thing they should focus on is commercial deals, and stop putting pressure on the FIA to produce ‘good’ racing.

      So if I were to nominate anyone to take over from Bernie, it’s a bit irrelevant whether he/she is an F1 person or not. As long as he/she has the overview to make F1 into something sustainable, so that costs and profits are divided more fairly than they are now.

  3. timtoo said on 7th August 2013, 14:48

    Jody Scheckter’s Laverstock Farm appeared on the rear wing of Brawn GP during Silverstone in 09. (Not the entire farm mind…. just the logo, unfortunately it was so small it was hard to spot!)

    I was a big F1 fan when I was younger, and actually had a friend at my School who lived in one of the farm houses on Jody Scheckter’s property. I remember going over playing outside on some sort of ash mountain from some sort of leftover bonfire (we were trying to sledge down it!) and this old guy in some sort of 4×4 was happy to see us enjoying ourselves (must have been around 10), it was only after i was picked up and I said I saw the man who lives in the big house that my Dad told me he used to drive fast cars….. never knew it was him until a few years ago!

    • BasCB said on 8th August 2013, 7:16

      Didn’t Webber have his birthday cake and stuff for the celebration come from Laverstock farm as well last year?

  4. David not Coulthard said on 7th August 2013, 14:59

    Great list, I loved it (seriously, I did)! Some other suggestions, though nowhere near as goo as yours:

    Nino Farina: Dealer (Though with Alfa romeo, not Merc)

    James hunt: Be Murray Walker’s partner

    Alex Zanardi: Win an Olympic gold medal

    Tiff Needell: Presenter of top Gear & 5th Gear

    Jackie Stewart: Become president of the BRDC

    Damon Hill: That + being in a band

  5. sumedh said on 7th August 2013, 15:16

    One of the best reads in this “Top 10″ series! Great work Greg and Keith!!

    A mention to Trulli – running a vineyard!
    Chandok, DC, Jordan – becoming a commentator

    And who says, you need to quit F1 to pursue alternate careers
    Hamilton – occasional rapper and drummer
    Vettel – appearing in music videos.

  6. lubhz said on 7th August 2013, 15:21

    Emerson Fittipaldi owns farms that produce orange juice in Brazil.

    Mauricio Gugelmin is in forestry, growing and selling timber back home.

    • claudioff said on 7th August 2013, 16:01

      Emerson Fittipaldi: He owns several citrus farms in his native Brazil (Fittipaldi Citrus). He broke the tradition of drinking milk after winning the Indy 500 on the occasion of his second victory. He drank orange juice instead of milk to promote his business, a highly critized decision.

  7. Akshay said on 7th August 2013, 16:11

    Excellent post ! quite enjoyed it :D . F1F is the best !

    Alonso for Prime Minister of Spain :D ,
    Lewis probably might do music , rap etc etc
    Jenson might go the Broadcasting route or may even act ( He is the James Bond of F1 ;-) )
    As for Seb , Nobody knows, @vettel1 ,any ideas ? A personalized car brand would be cool and would go with his mentality and also bring the $uccess .
    Having a Farm ? Can’t imagine anyone doing that . Heikki ?
    As for Kimi ,… wait I just remembered I got to take a dump ;) ( No Idea )

  8. To get you started with your next top ten: Jobs before becoming a F1 driver.
    Undertaker – Heinz Harald Frentzen (in his family’s funeral business)
    Banker – Romain Grosjean (up until 2009)

  9. Nick.UK said on 7th August 2013, 16:22

    How is commentary/sporst journalist/pundit not on this list? After all, it’s what most of them appear to do.

  10. funocsi said on 7th August 2013, 16:27

    Mansell had a good one: shaving the moustache.
    (I’m not sure if he made a living out of it though)

  11. funocsi said on 7th August 2013, 16:34

    I think Regazzoni’s work for disabled people is worth a mention.

  12. Eddie said on 7th August 2013, 16:51

    Hamilton might become a rapper :P

  13. JackySteeg said on 7th August 2013, 16:54

    I might be making this up, but for some reason I remember reading that Ricardo Rosset now owns a chain of sportswear shops in Brazil? I’m not sure if that’s right, I think I read it in one of those “Whatever happened to…?” articles that F1 Racing ran a couple of years ago…

  14. Jack said on 7th August 2013, 17:23

    Vettel – Primary School teacher
    Hamilton – Bankrupt
    Alonso – Cycling team/business
    Rosberg – Men’s cosmetics
    Button – TV presenter
    Maldonado – Corrupt politician

    And I imagine Max Chilton’s future is pretty secure whatever he ends up doing.

    • Max Jacobson said on 7th August 2013, 17:49

      Hamilton will be busting the rhymes and Button will forever remain a presence in stupid adverts!

      I’d like to add Grosjean with road safety campaigner, just for the irony. ;)

  15. frogster said on 7th August 2013, 18:23

    This should provide a couple of hours of good reading

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