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Italian Grand Prix: Six of the Best: Italian Nearlymen

A Tyrrell protégé, Alboreto rose steadily up the grid following his debut in 1981, taking wins in Las Vegas in 1982 and Detroit in 1983 to establish himself as a regular front-runner – and a formidable street circuit specialist. Alboreto's Detroit win was the last victory for a normally aspirated car before the turbo monopoly, an era that would see Alboreto's zenith as Ferrari's lead driver.

Signing for Ferrari for the 1984 season, Alboreto became the first Italian to race for the Maranello outfit since Arturio Mezario in 1973 – with Enzo Ferrari breaking his famous rule about hiring Italian drivers in order to secure Alboreto's services.

After picking up a win at Zolder en route to fourth in the 1984 championship, Alboreto really came to the fore in 1985, winning the Canadian and German grands prix as Ferrari took the fight to Prost and McLaren. Alboreto was level in the standings with Prost at the mid-point of the season, but four successive mechanical retirements at season's end gifted the Frenchman his first title.

Alboreto would never challenge again, and Gerhard Berger's arrival at Ferrari in 1987 put paid to his lead driver aspirations. Asked to seek a drive elsewhere for 1989, Alboreto rejoined Tyrrell, but this was the start of a dramatic downturn in the Italian's fortunes. Alboreto would spend his final years in F1 bouncing around the bottom order, and despite a renaissance for Footwork in 1992, would score only seven points across his final five seasons – three of which finished pointless.

After leaving F1 in 1994, Alboreto established a successful sportscar career, winning Le Mans in 1997, but was tragically killed testing for Audi in 2001.


One of F1's true Jekyll and Hyde characters, Andrea de Cesaris had a career that encompassed the ridiculous and, all too rarely, the sublime. A veteran of 208 grands prix, de Cesaris holds the unfortunate record for the most race starts without a victory.

Prone to bouts of Latin temperament, de Cesaris had to work hard to overcome his early-career moniker of 'de Crasheris'. Catapulted into F1 aged 21 by his Marlboro connections, his first disastrous forays were summed up when McLaren withdrew him from the 1981 Dutch GP out of concern that he would wreck the car following five straight retirements through driver error.

Sacked by McLaren after scoring one point to team leader John Watson's 27 in 1981, de Cesaris showed flashes of speed in 1982 for Alfa Romeo, becoming the then youngest pole-sitter aged 22 at Long Beach and famously running out of fuel when poised to win on the last lap in Monaco.

Despite his improving form, de Cesaris found himself sliding down the grid from Alfa Romeo to Ligier, and was summarily sacked after a spectacular barrel-rolling exit from the 1985 Austrian GP.

Taking his Marlboro sponsorship from team to team, the mid-late 80s were a dismal time for the Italian, setting astonishingly poor finishing records: 18 consecutive non-finishes across 1985/86, 12 consecutive mechanical failures from his first 12 races started in 1986 and finishing just three races from 31 starts across the 1986/87 seasons for Minardi and Brabham.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
1979 Formula One World Championship. Ricardo Patrese (ITA), Warsteiner Arrows A2. British Grand Prix, Silverstone, 14th July 1979.
Michele Alboreto - Audi R8
Saturday, Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA), Test Driver, Scuderia Ferrari
10.09.2011- Qualifying, Scuderia Ferrari fans
26.03.2017 - Riccardo Adami (ITA) Ferrari Race Engineer
24.03.2017 - Free Practice 1, (L-R) Alessandro Alunni Bravi (ITA) Lawyer by training and Sports Consultant and Contractor and Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32
24.03.2017 - Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director and Andrea Stella (ITA) Mclaren race Engineer
28.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA), Ferrari
27.10.2016 - Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Riccardo Adami (ITA) Ferrari Race Engineer
27.10.2016 - Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Riccardo Adami (ITA) Ferrari Race Engineer
27.10.2016 - Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Riccardo Adami (ITA) Ferrari Race Engineer
Alessandro Nannini - Benetton
09.10.2016 - Race, (L-R) Andrea Stella (ITA) Mclaren race Engineer and Jost Capito (GER) McLaren Chief Executive Officer
02.10.2016 - Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director Bruno Michel (FRA) Gp2 Promoter
02.10.2016 - (L-R) Riccardo Adami (ITA) Ferrari Race Engineer and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
02.10.2016 - Riccardo Adami (ITA) Ferrari Race Engineer and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
04.09.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
04.09.2016 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H

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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 3:41 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.

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