DECEMBER 4, 1995
GIANCARLO BAGHETTI, who died last week from cancer at the age of 60, competed in only 21 Grands Prix but he remains the only man in the history of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship to have won the first event in which he competed.
On July 2, 1961 - at the age of 26 - Baghetti won the French Grand Prix in his semi-works "shark-nose" Ferrari 156 after a stirring battle with Dan Gurney's Porsche 718. His was the only one of the four dominant Ferraris to run throughout the race without a problem: Wolfgang Von Trips retired, while both Phil Hill and Ritchie Ginther had problems and finished a long way down the order.
It was only Baghetti's sixth season of motor racing, and prior to the Rheims victory he had won two non-championship F1 events: the Naples Grand Prix at Posillipo and the Syracuse GP.
He took part in two other Grand Prix in 1961, retiring in both but setting the fastest lap at the ill-fated Italian GP at Monza, where Von Trips was killed.
Baghetti did four races with Ferrari in 1962 and then - along with Phil Hill - made the disastrous decision to quit Ferrari to join the new Automobili Turismo e Sport (ATS) team. This was made up of a crew of Ferrari defectors, led by Carlo Chiti and Romolo Tavoni, which had set up shop in Bologna.
In 1964 he quit ATS and raced in a two-year old BRM P57 run by the Centro Sud team. Thereafter he appeared each year at Monza in various F1 machines, while racing with some success in the European Touring Car Championship with Alfas and Fiat Abarths. He won the 1966 1000cc Class Championship in an Abarth 1000.
He retired from racing in 1968 and started a new career as an automotive and fashion photographer and publisher. He was a regular visitor the Italian GP at Monza each year.