Ralph Firman

The son of Ralph Firman, the founder of the Van Diemen production racing car company, Ralph Jr grew up surrounded by racing cars and began karting at the age of 11. Four years later he won the British karting championship and in 1993 switched to car racing, competing in Formula Vauxhall Jr and then moved up to Formula Vauxhall in 1994, finishing fourth in the British series with Paul Stewart Racing The next step was Formula 3 with PSR and he missed out on the British title in 1995 but earned himself a test drive with McLaren. He stayed in British F3 in 1996 and duly won the title but finding no way to progress further in Europe then headed for Japan where he worked his way up through the hierarchy joining Nakajima Racing in 2001 and winning the Formula Nippon title in 2002. This led to a test driver with the Honda-backed British American Racing and the support of Honda also helped him to land the second Jordan drive in 2003. An unhappy season in F1 left him with nothing to do in 2004 and he dropped from the F1 scene.