Paul Pietsch – the last surviving driver of the pre-war Silver Arrows era – has died just a few weeks short of his 101st birthday.
He was a unique living link to the days of Tazio Nuvolari and Bernd Rosemeyer.
Born in 1911, the German spent his early career as a privateer. He started with a Bugatti in 1932, before getting his hands on an Alfa. However he showed enough promise to interest both Mercedes and Auto Union, signing for the latter after a test at the end of 1934.
As team mate to Rosemeyer, Hans Stuck Sr and Achille Varzi, Pietsch drove for Auto Union in six races in 1935. His best result was third in the Italian GP, where he shared his car with Rosemeyer. He left the team after his wife famously had an affair with Varzi, and following a divorce Pietsch sat out the 1936 season.
He returned in 1937, mainly driving private Maseratis. In perhaps his most famous race he drove for the works Maserati team in the 1939 German GP, briefly leading ahead of the fancied Silver Arrows. He eventually finished third after mechanical problems delayed him.
After WW2 he resumed his career, making three World Championship starts between 1950 and 1952. He drove a works Alfa Romeo in his home race in 1951, but his day ended in an accident.
Pietsch was equally well known off track for founding a famous motoring publishing company.