F1 » Six of the Best: Italian Nearlymen

With Monza 2013 on the horizon, Will Saunders reflects on six Latin talents that had the ability to succeed in the top flight, but ultimately came up short.

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September 03, 2013 11:56 AM

Nice article.

Alboreto was a genuine talent and was fairly unlucky not to win the 1985 championship. As I mentioned to someone a couple of weeks ago he had horrendous reliability problems. He was only 3 points behind Prost with 5 rounds to go and his car died at all 5 races!
In total he had 7 mechanical failures that year, Prost on the other hand had one failure.

De Cesaris doesn't only hold the most starts without a win record, he also has most consecutive retirements - 22 and most retirements - 148, strangely Patrese has second most retirements - 146 and Alboreto has third most - 102


September 03, 2013 3:23 PM

Nice statistics Taipan. Unfortunately I watched only Fisichella racing amongst these drivers, during his entire F1 career. The communism didn't allow me and my people to have any contact with the west so until the early 90s I didn't knew the Formula 1 did exist. Anyway I was just a kid back then and now no one is trying to stop me in anyway to enjoy this sport. :)


September 03, 2013 3:33 PM

there are several more Italians who showed promise but just did not get the breaks

alex caffi

caffi in particular. I had never heard of hi, and he was given a drive out of the blue. I seem to recollect that he scored points in his first race. ty will check for me

and what about the gorilla? so excited when he won his first race, he spun over the finish line and crashed!

oddly in more recent times, Ferrari seems to steer clear of Italians. probably because both the team and a driver have fiery temperaments, and wouldn't get on to well?


September 03, 2013 3:41 PM

Some colourful characters from F1's history. Though not Italian I can often appreciate the 'typically italian' strong and weak points. Often flashes of brilliance marred by inconsistency and/or poor execution. It's the same with their (classic) cars.

Unfortunately F1 has gravitated towards Britain with a dab of Germany put in the mix over recent years, probably because the real big money isn't in Italy anymore these days and that shows in sports in general and F1 in particular.

Ferrari has an increasingly more global profile and all the other Italian teams have long gone both from F1 and mostly from junior categories. Shame really...the sport could do with a bit more diversity.


September 03, 2013 4:42 PM

Richard, I recently read a story about The Gorilla's win (Brambilla for anyone who doesn't know) It was unexpectedly wet at Austria '75 and the start was postponed then when it started the leaders all dropped back due to having a dry set up and Brambilla found himself leading. On lap 29 the organisers decided to red flag it until the conditions improved but the chequered flag was waved by mistake ending the race! The Gorilla was so surprised as he crossed the line he throw his hands in the air lost it and crashed!
I'm not sure if the wrong flag part is true, any ideas?

Caffi got a surprise drive at Monza '86 started 27th and ended 11th but it was only due to all ahead of him retiring, he ended the race 6 laps down.


September 03, 2013 4:58 PM
Last Edited 766 days ago

Firestorm are you in Eastern Europe? I've always had an interest is the old Soviet Empire (not saying I agree with it all but certainly interested in it) I was reading about General Zhukov last night, quite a guy!


September 03, 2013 6:18 PM

Yes I am. I can't say that I experienced the regime very much because I was a kid but I experienced the transition to democracy and it was very harsh. I was a teenager when I saw the closure of most factories, markets and many people getting unemployed. The school changed very much and many people were trying to immigrate to the western countries. And in a space of a few months USSR had become the villain and USA the hero. It took nearly ten years to build a normal democratic society, despite still is a little problematic.


September 03, 2013 6:41 PM

What about Gianni Morbidelli? He was a pretty handy peddler in the Arrows and Ivan Capelli in Adrian Neweys Leyton house-a formidable underdog team.
I think Capelli in particular had much more to offer but was just too nice a person to make it in the ruthless,cut throat environment of F1.

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