Esteban Tuero

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Esteban Tuero
Born (1978-04-22) 22 April 1978 (age 38)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Argentina Argentine
Active years 1998
Teams Minardi
Entries 16
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1998 Australian Grand Prix
Last entry 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 sixth youngest) F1 driver in history when he landed his seat alongside Shinji Nakano, but left the sport at the end of the season.

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]

In the 1996 Formula Three season, Tuero finished fourth in his first race, and he crossed the line first in his second race, only to be disqualified due to using illegal fuel. In the non-championship Monaco event, he started on the front row alongside future F1 driver Jarno Trulli, battling with him before eventually punting him at the hairpin on Lap 17. Tuero retired 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. His run for Draco resulted 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 back 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]

1998

Initially there were doubts over whether Tuero would be allowed to compete in the 1998 season. Although Minardi had contracted him to drive an M198, alongside Japan's Shinji Nakano, he failed to meet all Super License requirements. Formula One pundit, and former driver, 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 became the third-youngest ever Formula One driver at the time.[2] He qualified 17th in Australia, ahead of team-mate Nakano and the likes of 1996 Monaco Grand Prix winner Olivier Panis but retired with a blown engine. Gearbox gremlins in Brazil followed by a spin into the gravel at his home race in Argentina left Tuero with three DNF's after the opening three races.

The San Marino Grand Prix was a race of attrition, but Tuero nursed his Minardi home to 8th for his first finish of the year before coming home 15th in Spain, where he was forced to serve a stop-and-go penalty for speeding in the pit lane. For five races in a row, Tuero then failed to finish; Monaco, where he spun off before a lap was completed, Canada, France, Great Britain, where he was one of many to spin off in awful conditions, and Austria, where he spun off for the second race running.

16th in Germany halted the run of retirements, but only briefly. Tuero lasted 13 laps in Hungary, and, though fortunate to miss the huge shunt at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, still retired prior to half-distance. 11th in Italy proceeded another retirement at the Luxembourg Grand Prix.

His final race of the season would also be his final race in a top-level single-seater series; the Japanese Grand Prix. Starting 21st on the grid, he crashed into Toranosuke Takagi on lap 29, after accidentally hitting the throttle rather than the brakes. His Minardi vaulted Takagi's Tyrrell and upon landing he damaged a number of vertrebra in his neck.[3] In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher who was challenging McLaren's Mika Häkkinen for the Driver's Championship, 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 his first World Drivers' Championship. Meanwhile, Tuero's sole Formula One season proved fruitless with no points and no ranking in the Drivers' Championship.

1999

The restructured Minardi squad headed toward the 1999 season with plans to run Tuero once more, this time alongside Spaniard Marc Gene. Tuero was due to test the new car, the M01, in late January after recuperating from his injuries, but on the eve of that first test astounded everyone by announcing his retirement from Formula One. Despite surprising many at the time, Tuero never explained why he quit at the age of just 20 and still hasn't done so to this day. His Formula One career reached its destination after only 16 races.

After Formula One[edit]

Though Minardi had counted on Tuero staying with the team for the 1999 season, to the surprise of the team he walked into a meeting and said he would leave Formula 1 and move back to his home country.[4] 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 Nippon 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
1997 Team LeMans SUZ
Ret
MIN
Ret
FUJ
9
SUZ
11
SUG
Ret
FUJ
6
MIN MOT FUJ SUZ 16th 1

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
NC 0

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tuero's F1 Rejects biography Archived September 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  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. 
  4. ^ "ForzaMinardi.com - Esteban Tuero". www.forzaminardi.com. Retrieved 2015-06-01. 

Sources[edit]