One of modern Formula One's more colourful and controversial characters, Eddie Irvine, was born in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. His career promised much but after coming within two points of the world title in 1999 with Ferrari, fizzled out. It certainly started with a bang when he was punched after upsetting Ayrton Senna on his debut, and then was banned after a crash early in the next season - initially one race, it was upped to three because of his attitude at the hearing. Things really came good when he joined Ferrari in 1997. He was a valuable number two in 1998, then became a winner in 1999. However, his chance came when Michael Schumacher broke a leg and he became team leader. Three further wins took him to the final round in front, but Mika Hakkinen won to take the title. He moved to Jaguar for 2000, looking forward to being No. 1 from the first year of Jaguar's Formula One adventure. However, the team had a poor year and his best result was fourth at Monaco. This was improved upon by a surprise third at Monaco in 2001, but progress was slow and, although he collected third at Monza in 2002, it was to be his Formula One swansong. "It goes without saying that there are some real arseholes in Formula One," he once said. "In addition, some have serious psychological problems." Away from the sport, he amassed a huge fortune through astute property investment.
Alexandre Darracq, born in Bordeaux, was a major car manufacturer in the early days of the automobile. He started out making sewing machines, then cycles, selling his company in 1896 and investing the proceeds in a car-making business. Oddly, he did not even like driving or being driven. By 1904 he was responsible for 10% of all cars sold in France, and his company was involved in the first grand prix races. Darracq was able to licence his products across Europe and he eventually sold in 1912 for a substantial fortune. He ran a casino before retiring to the French Riviera to run the Hotel Negresco in Nice. He died in 1931.
Born in Milan, Lucien Bianchi cut his teeth in sports cars and rallying before moving on to single-seaters in 1959. The first grand prix for which he qualified was, fittingly, the Belgian in 1960 and he drove his Cooper into the points, finishing sixth. However, he dropped back to sports cars, and it was not until 1968 that Lucien had a decent crack at Formula One, with the little-fancied BRM-powered Cooper. His highlight that year came when he won the Le Mans 24 Hours and it was to sports cars that he turned in 1969, but they later claimed his life at Le Mans.