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Five debuts in one mid-season race



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1989 French GP


This picture captures three of the five men that made their Grand Prix debut on the 1989 French GP. Gachot, Donnelly and Bernard, here seen exiting the last corner at Ricard, were the ones who made the least impression, courtesy of Jean Alesi, who flew for Tyrrell, and, to a lesser extent, Emanuele Pirro who replaced the luckless Johnny Herbert at Benetton.

For 'European' Gachot (a Luxembourg-born Frenchman driving under a Belgian license), this was not his first appearance at an F1 weekend, previously having failed to prequalify his Onyx. But when he did at Ricard he immediately stormed to 11th on the grid.

Donnelly and Bernard were high-flyers in F3000 that year, driving for EJR (as did Alesi) and DAMS respectively, and were called up to replace Warwick and Dalmas. Bernard's F1 career petered out the usual way at Ligier and Lotus, after which he took the familiar ex-F1 driver's route to GTs, today showing some spark for the works Panoz team.

Both Gachot and Donnelly waved goodbye to the F1 circus under rather unpleasant circumstances. After showing so much promise at Jordan, Bertrand sprayed himself out of the equation by assaulting a London cabbie with a tear-gas capsule, for which he was imprisoned.

In 1990, Donnelly crashed out of F1 with a huge shunt at Jerez, completely destroying his Lotus-Lambo. Martin was lucky to survive. He now runs his own team in the British F3 Championship.