Esteban Tuero

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Esteban Tuero
Born (1978-04-22) 22 April 1978 (age 36)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Argentina Argentine
Active years 1998
Teams Minardi
Races 16
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1998 Australian Grand Prix
Last race 1998 Japanese Grand Prix

Esteban Tuero (born 22 April 1978) is an Argentine racing driver who raced for the Minardi Formula One team in 1998. At 19, he became the then-third-youngest (now fifth youngest) F1 driver in history when he landed his seat alongside Shinji Nakano, but left the sport at the end of the season following a neck injury.

Early life[edit]

Esteban Tuero was born at a time when the likes of Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost were just beginning their careers. The Argentine Grand Prix was based near to his home, at the Oscar Gálvez race circuit. This meant that Formula One was popular where he grew up and, though the grand prix was discontinued in 1981, the sport was one of the biggest in the country.

Tuero was born to a family who had a huge interest in motor racing, his father being a minor race car driver, and so Esteban was groomed for the big time from an early age by beginning karts at the age of seven. He would drive karts until 1992, moving up to the Formula series the following year.

Minor formulae career[edit]

Tuero moved up to car racing in 1993, spending a season with the Crespi team in Formula Renault. In 1994, he switched to Formula Honda with the Kissling team, becoming champion. All of his career so far had been in his native Argentina, so despite the pressures of racing in a Formula series whilst only 14, he was given his first taste of traveling the continent with a few races in South American Formula Three, driving a Ralt/Opel with the INI team.

In 1995, he moved to Europe, his father knowing his career would need to go there in order to gain momentum. He won the Italian Formula 2000 National Trophy by a large margin in a Dallara 392, and was also given a taste of Italian Formula Three in a Dallara 395. In 1996, he joined the bigger Italian F3 team Coloni Motorsport, driving a Dallara 396 with an Alfa Romeo engine. His performances in the series started generating interest from Formula One teams, with Benetton in the frame for signing him. It would be Minardi, though, who secured his services as a test driver for the team, despite being just 18 years old.

Route to Formula One[edit]

His 1996 Formula Three season was a success, showcasing his skills. Tuero finished fourth in his first race, and he won his second race, only to be disqualified due to using illegal fuel. In the non-championship Monaco event, he would start on the front row alongside the future successful F1 driver Jarno Trulli, battling with him before eventually punting him at the hairpin on Lap 17. Tuero would retire due to a flat battery later in the race.

Tuero opted to not finish the season in Formula Three, though, and jumped ship to Formula 3000 halfway through. His finishes in Italian F3 left him 13th in the final championship standings. At the age of 16, Tuero's inexperience showed in F3000, his run for Draco resulting in only one top ten and a final championship position of 16th. His poor performance for Draco meant he was dropped for 1997, but instead of dropping to Formula 3, he went to the Formula Nippon series in Japan. He only scored one point and finished 16th in the standings (ending up 81 points down on championship winner Pedro de la Rosa), but Tuero covered the required mileage making him eligible for an F1 Super License. His continuing test role with Minardi impressed the team to the extent that the Italian outfit gave him a race seat for the 1998 season, alongside the Japanese driver Shinji Nakano.

Formula One career[edit]

Initially there were doubts over whether Tuero would be allowed to compete in the 1998 season. Although Minardi had signed him to a valid contract, he failed to meet all of the requirements of the Super License. F1 pundit Martin Brundle was quoted as saying, "As for Tuero, it would have been scary. I don't like to see these guys out there with so little experience. Imagine it: even if he didn't qualify, he'd be getting in the way during qualifying. And if he did qualify, then he'd definitely be lapped plenty. He'd have really needed to have his wits about him. To be honest, it annoys me, people like that, with zilch credibility."[1]

Tuero was eventually awarded his license by the FIA and, upon starting the season at 19 years of age, he become the third-youngest ever F1 driver at the time.[2] He qualified 17th at Melbourne, ahead of his teammate Nakano. Minardi was a team stuck at the back of the pack with the Tyrrells, who were competing their final season in F1, and Tuero only made the top ten once, at the 1998 San Marino Grand Prix.

His final race of the season would also be his final race in a single seater Formula sport, at the 1998 Japanese Grand Prix. Starting 21st on the Suzuka grid, he crashed into Toranosuke Takagi on lap 29, injuring a vertrebra in his neck in the process.[3] In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher who was challenging McLaren's Mika Häkkinen for the driver's title passed the accident with carbon fibre littering the race track. Schumacher then suffered a catastrophic rear tyre failure forcing him to retire and thus handing Häkkinen the title.

After Formula One[edit]

Tuero quit Formula One after the 1998 season. In 1999, he joined the Argentinian TC2000 touring car racing series, where he struggled to make an impact by finishing outside the top ten overall. He later won two races at the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo which was one of the three official Volkswagen cars on the grid. After that, Volkswagen discontinued his official link with the team while they were developing new cars for the series. The new car, a Volkswagen Bora, was far from reliable. In fact, Tuero was leading some races with a nice gap and then he had to retire due to mechanical failures. He was linked with a pay-drivers seat in the CART series for 2002, but it never happened. Despite that he continued racing at TC2000 with several teams and some successful performances.

Racing record[edit]

Complete International Formula 3000 results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DC Points
1996 Draco Engineering NÜR
PAU
PER
HOC
SIL
14
SPA
17
MAG
10
EST
Ret
MUG
13
HOC
Ret
24th 0

Complete Formula One Grand Prix results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WDC Points
1998 Minardi Minardi M198 Ford V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
Ret
ARG
Ret
SMR
8
ESP
15
MON
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
AUT
Ret
GER
16
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
11
LUX
Ret
JPN
Ret
19th 0

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tuero's F1 Rejects biography
  2. ^ Vigar, Simon (2008). Forza Minardi!: The Inside Story of the Little Team Which Took on the Giants ... Veloce Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 9781845841607. 
  3. ^ "Happy birthday, Esteban Tuero!". Richards F1. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 

Sources[edit]