Zanardi has all the traits of an F1 driver, including the ability to take intuitive risks. In the last race of the American CART series, Zanardi thrilled crowds with a perfectly judged overtaking move at the Corkscrew corner at Laguna Seca. The winning manoeuvre was later banned for being too risky.
Then in September 2001, at the Euro Speedway Lausitz, Zanardi was involved in a violent collision while leading the race. He had started at the back of the grid and fought his way to the front of the field in a monumental effort typical for his fighting spirit, but the freak accident left his life in imbalance.
Losing both your legs and nearly 75% of your blood is enough to destroy anyone’s competitive ambitions but Zanardis’ competitive nature burned too fiercely to be put out. Having fostered an interest in the sport of handcycling, Zanardi came fourth in the 2007 New York Marathon handcycling classification – after only a month of training.
Zanardi is still honoured by the world of motor-racing some 15 years after this tragic accident – because far from disappearing into obscurity, Zanardi continues to inspire the sporting world, having added a third Paralympic Gold medal in handcycling this September. Mr. Zanardi, you’re an inspiration to us all.