Michele Alboreto was an Italian Formula One racing driver. With 215 Grands Prix under his belt, Alboreto was one of the more experienced drivers in the history of the sport. Born on December 23rd 1956, in Milan, Italy, Alboreto’s racing career started pretty late in life, when in 1976,at age 20, he raced a car in the Formula Monza series, which was built by him and his friends. Achieving almost nothing in his two years in Formula Monza, he graduated to racing in the Formula 3 championships, where he would win eight races over two years, and was also crowned the 1980 European Formula Three Champion.
In 1981, the young Italian made his Formula One debut at the age of 24, with the Tyrell Racing team. Always qualifying towards the back of the grid, he was unable to score a single point all season. The following season provided some respite, with his first win coming in at the season ending United States Grand Prix at Las Vegas. He also managed another podium finish that season, to end the year with 25 points, and 8th spot in the standings. After an unimpressive 1983 season with Benetton Tyrell, which saw him win only one race at Detroit, Alboreto moved to the Ferrari team.
Over the next five seasons the Italian spent at Ferrari, he managed to win three races, in addition to securing 15 podium finishes. The 1985 season was Alboreto’s best of all, winning the Canadian as well as the German Grand Prix. He finished the year on 53 points, 20 behind the eventual champion Alain Prost, but many regarded Alboreto as the only real challenger to Prost’s title bid. The next three years at Ferrari were disappointing, to say the least. Alboreto didn’t win another race, and was soon over shadowed within the team by new team mate Gerhard Berger. At the end of the 1988 season, Ferrari did not offer the Italian driver a new contract.
After leaving the Italian outfit, Alboreto raced for his former team Tyrell, as well as Larrousse, Arrows, Footwork, Scuderia Italia and Minardi over a span of six seasons. But besides increasing the tally of his race retirements, he managed only one more podium. At the end of the 1994 season, he drew the curtains on his long Formula One racing career, with 194 grands prix starts to his name, and a total of five race victories.
Following his retirement from Formula One, Alboreto continued to race in other series, such as Le Mans, Indycar, and DTM and even won the Le Mans in 1997. In 2001 while performing straight line speed tests in an Audi R8 in Germany, a tyre blow out caused his car to go off the track and crash into a wall, killing him. The name Michele Alboreto may not ring a bell in the minds of modern day Formula One enthusiasts, but it is a name that still carries respect amongst his former on-track rivals, as well as current Italian racing car drivers, for he was a racer of the highest calibre, who was beaten more often by his machine, than his rivals.
-Rohhan A Divanji