Aug.28 (GMM/Inautonews.com) To many in F1 circles, Bertrand Gachot is arguably best known for vacating his Jordan seat in 1991 for a then unknown youngster by the name of Michael Schumacher.
Just before Schumacher’s meteoric F1 debut 20 years ago, Gachot was jailed in England for spraying a taxi driver with CS gas some eight months earlier.
“The taxi thing happened in December (1990),” Gachot, who now manages his energy drink company Hype, told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
“Eight months later, in August 1991, I was summoned to court. The lawyers told me it’s a small thing.”
It was the week before the Spa-Francorchamps race, but the judge refused to release the French-Belgian driver even on a multi-million pound bond.
“I was a danger to the English population,” he marvelled. “Eight months later!
“I was sentenced to two years in prison and I had to serve two months. And because the gas was considered a weapon, they put me in a cell with a murderer.”
It was, however, good news for Eddie Jordan, who had already collected from Gachot’s sponsors in 1991 and was now receiving $160,000 from Mercedes for the one-off Schumacher debut.
Gachot doesn’t directly accuse Jordan of pushing the CS gas case to court in order to collect more sponsorship money.
“I don’t want to put that name in my mouth. I don’t mean Michael, who is a great guy, a great racer. My bad luck was his good fortune. His career might have been very different if I had not gone to prison.”