Andrea de Cesaris
31 May 1959 |
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Teams||Alfa Romeo, McLaren, Ligier, Minardi, Brabham, Rial, Scuderia Italia, Jordan, Tyrrell, Sauber|
|Races||214 (208 starts)|
|First race||1980 Canadian Grand Prix|
|Last race||1994 European Grand Prix|
Andrea de Cesaris (born 31 May 1959) is an Italian former race car driver. He started 208 Formula One Grands Prix but never won, holding the record for the longest career without a race victory. A string of accidents early in his career earned him the nickname 'Andrea de Crasheris'. Though the nickname stuck, he became a more reliable driver in his later career.
In 2005 and 2006 he competed in the Grand Prix Masters formula for retired F1 drivers.
- 1 Driving career
- 2 Legacy
- 3 Retirement
- 4 Helmet
- 5 Racing revival
- 6 Complete World Championship Formula One results
- 7 References
De Cesaris was born in Rome on 31 May 1959. A multiple karting champion, he graduated to Formula 3 in Britain, winning numerous events and finishing 2nd in the championship to Chico Serra. From Formula 3, he graduated to Formula 2 with future McLaren boss Ron Dennis' Project 4 team.
Alfa Romeo (1980)
- Related article: Alfa Romeo in Formula One
In 1980, de Cesaris was picked up by Alfa Romeo for the final events of the 1980 World Championship, replacing Vittorio Brambilla who had, in turn, replaced Patrick Depailler when he was killed testing at Hockenheim. At just 21 years old, his first race in Canada ended after eight laps because of engine failure. In his second race, at Watkins Glen in the United States, he went off and crashed into the catch fencing at the Junction corner after two laps.
- Related article: McLaren
In 1981 de Cesaris, partly due to his Marlboro connections, landed a seat at McLaren, which in that year had come under the leadership of Ron Dennis after the team was merged with Dennis' Project 4 Formula 2 team. The Italian managed to finish only 6 of the 14 races he started, with a sixth place at Imola as best result. This was not enough to convince the resurgent McLaren team to keep him on. It was at this point in his career that the nickname "Andrea de Crasheris" was coined. The team was so worried that he would crash the car to the point that they withdrew his car from the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort after he qualified 13th. The average number of accidents a Formula One driver usually has in a whole season is between 1 to 3 (counting crashes in practice and qualifying sessions), but up to the Dutch Grand Prix, De Cesaris had crashed no less than 18 times (including his accident during practice at Zandvoort) and the team had spent more than 120 man-hours (which amounts to 5 full days) of work fixing and rebuilding the cars he wrecked. The number of crashes he had in that single year was apparently a record for one season.
In July 1981 de Cesaris and Henri Pescarolo finished second to the team of Riccardo Patrese and Michele Alboreto in a 6-hour endurance race at Watkins Glen, New York. Both teams drove Lancia cars with de Cesaris and Pescarolo finishing two laps behind.
Alfa Romeo (1982–1983)
- Related article: Alfa Romeo in Formula One
Moving back to Alfa Romeo in 1982, de Cesaris became the youngest man ever to take pole position at the Long Beach Grand Prix. De Cesaris was also only the second Alfa Romeo driver to capture a pole since 1952. De Cesaris led the initial stages of the race until he missed a gear while lapping the slower car of Raul Boesel, letting Niki Lauda get past. He crashed out later on the fifth of twelve turns near the midway point of the race. De Cesaris was not injured but flames emanated from the rear of his Alfa Romeo as he climbed out of its battered cockpit.
From this point onwards, de Cesaris was nearly always seen by most in the paddock as prone to occasional brilliance but more often than not, erratic behaviour. 1982 saw a podium finish at Monte Carlo and another point in Canada. At the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix Didier Pironi retired on the final lap with electrical trouble on his Ferrari. De Cesaris ran out of fuel at the same point, allowing Riccardo Patrese to win his first Formula 1 race in 71 starts. At the start of the Austrian Grand Prix, de Cesaris, concentrating on trying to pass the car in front of him, veered across the entire width of the track and rammed his teammate Bruno Giacomelli into the wall, taking both out.
In 1983, with his Alfa Romeo now using a turbo engine, he took two second places, one at Hockenheim in the 1983 German Grand Prix (his first points of the season) and the other one in the season-closing 1983 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami, 9.319 seconds behind. De Cesaris came close to winning at Spa-Francorchamps, after comfortably leading from the Renault of Alain Prost for much of the race before a botched pit stop delayed him and a blown engine put him out of the race handing victory to the Frenchman.
- Related article: Ligier
De Cesaris moved to Ligier in 1984, where, despite the car's promising Renault turbo engine, he did not build on his earlier success. He scored only three points during the season.
The 1985 season did not prove any better for de Cesaris, and he was lucky to retain his seat before the season as Ligier had signed French cigarette company Gitanes as their major sponsor, a rival of his personal sponsor Marlboro. A number of strong performances including a strong fourth place at Monaco showed early promise but the season turned into a dismal one after he destroyed his Ligier JS25 in a quadruple-rollover at the Austrian Grand Prix, and was fired by team boss Guy Ligier as a result. After spending countless money repairing cars de Cesaris had crashed in his 20 months with the team, Guy Ligier stated that "I can no longer afford to employ this man" (this was despite Marlboro paying the bulk of his salary). He was kept in the team until the next race at Zandvoort, after which he was replaced by Philippe Streiff.
- Related article: Minardi
In 1986 de Cesaris moved to Minardi. In an overweight car with the underpowered Motori Moderni engine, he was more often than not outpaced by his team mate, fellow Italian and F1 rookie Alessandro Nannini. For the first time in his career, de Cesaris went an entire season without scoring a point.
- Related article: Brabham
In 1987 de Cesaris switched to Brabham-BMW, and it was with the Bernie Ecclestone-owned team that he began to show his raw speed again.[neutrality is disputed] At the 1987 Belgian Grand Prix, at Spa, Belgium, de Cesaris placed third behind Alain Prost and Stefan Johansson, his first points in nearly two years. He wouldn't finish another race that season. Although he usually qualified well (his best qualifying for the year was 7th in Germany, his worst 21st in Monaco), the powerful BMW turbo would often end its races by exploding in flames, making a consistent points haul impossible.
- Related article: Rial
For 1988 Brabham pulled out of Formula One and de Cesaris was again looking for a new home. He found it at the new Rial team, run by German Gunter Schmidt, the former boss of the ATS outfit. The car was extremely slimline, with de Cesaris looking awfully exposed.[neutrality is disputed] But, with Cosworth power and brave driving,[neutrality is disputed] he often qualified well,[neutrality is disputed] and took an outstanding[neutrality is disputed] fourth place in the Detroit Grand Prix. He also twice ran out of fuel in the last laps while running in the points, in Canada and Australia.
For 1989, de Cesaris moved to a team where he looked most at home:[neutrality is disputed] the red and white Marlboro-sponsored Scuderia Italia squad. Early results were again promising. By now a Monaco expert,[neutrality is disputed] he was on course for a podium position in Monte Carlo, before being taken out by triple world champion Nelson Piquet at the Lowes Hairpin. De Cesaris lost his temper in a massive way. As the cars were locked together, he screamed and waved wildly, before berating Piquet's Lotus team upon returning to the pits. Two races later it was de Cesaris' turn to play the villain. After an early delay he was being lapped by Dallara team-mate Alex Caffi when he ran his fellow Italian into the wall, robbing the team of another podium (de Cesaris confirmed the general view that he had tunnel vision when he claimed he did not even see Caffi, despite his team mate actually having got slightly ahead). He made amends at the next race in Canada, finishing third behind Williams drivers Thierry Boutsen and Riccardo Patrese in a rain-soaked race. It would be the last time de Cesaris stood on the Formula One podium.
Scuderia Italia's promise wasn't repeated in 1990. With a number of teams now using either Ford or Judd customer V8s, the midfield had become much tighter. De Cesaris was involved in a number of hairy incidents during that season, including crashing out at the start of the first lap at Interlagos, and at Imola, where he forced off Alessandro Nannini during practice at Curva Villeneuve and the Italian shunted his Benetton. He also nearly took out 2nd-placed Nigel Mansell while being lapped during the race. Reliability was a problem, and he again failed to score a point all season, even failing to qualify for the German Grand Prix.
- Related article: Jordan Grand Prix
At the season's first race in Phoenix de Cesaris selected the wrong gear in the short pre-qualifying session, buzzed the engine and was out. That result was no indication of what was to come. De Cesaris was again strong at Monaco,[neutrality is disputed] forcing his way past the Benetton of Roberto Moreno and was running in the points when the Jordan's throttle cable snapped.
In the next race in Canada he finished a strong fourth. De Cesaris then rebuffed anyone who thought this was a fluke by repeating the result next time out in Mexico. The following race in France he finished sixth. Suspension failure in Great Britain led to a massive crash but the Italian bounced back to qualify seventh and finish fifth in Germany.
He did not score again after this midseason purple patch, but his day of days came during the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Franchorchamps. Despite the pressure of being outqualified by debutant team-mate Michael Schumacher, de Cesaris moved through the field to take second position until his car's Ford HB V8 blew. A communication problem between Ford and the Jordan team meant the oil tank in the car was too small to service a new type of piston ring, which used more lubricant.
De Cesaris finished the season 9th in the standings, his best result since 1983.
- Related article: Tyrrell Racing
Despite Eddie Jordan's desire to keep de Cesaris for the 1992 season, financial realities meant it wasn't possible. Jordan had built up significant debts in his debut season. He was able to secure sponsorship from Barclay Cigarettes, but the brand was in direct conflict with de Cesaris' Marlboro backing. Something had to give, and the Italian left the team where he'd driven his strongest season yet.[neutrality is disputed]
Ken Tyrrell hired de Cesaris for his team and his faith was quickly repaid when de Cesaris took a fifth in the second race of the season in Mexico, when, after being caught up in early spin, he battled through the field, even slip-streaming past the factory Ferrari of Jean Alesi.
The Ilmor V-10 powered Tyrrell 020 was a handy machine,[neutrality is disputed] and de Cesaris was in the points three more times during the season culminating in a fourth place in the Japanese Grand Prix.
1993 was very different. The Ilmor engine had been replaced with free Yamaha V10s which changed the dynamics and reliability of the car. The 020 was by then very old and was replaced mid-season by the 021. This car, featuring active suspension, was not a success. For the third time in his career, de Cesaris failed to score a point and left Tyrrell at the end of the season.
Jordan and Sauber (1994)
In 1994, for the first time since 1980, de Cesaris started the season without a Formula One drive. Talks with several small teams came to nothing and as the circus left for Brazil, he was on the sidelines. But it was an event during the Brazilian Grand Prix that revived his career. Irishman Eddie Irvine was blamed for starting a massive accident which saw Jos Verstappen barrel roll over the top of Martin Brundle. On appeal, Irvine was banned for three races. At the Pacific Grand Prix, Aguri Suzuki drove Irvine's vacated Jordan. But for the next race, the San Marino Grand Prix, Eddie Jordan brought de Cesaris back to the team where he had earned his best results back three seasons earlier.
The return didn't start well when de Cesaris wrote off a chassis during testing. He crashed again during the tragic event at Imola due to poor fitness having not driven a race distance in six months.[neutrality is disputed] He bounced back in Monte Carlo. In a mature drive,[neutrality is disputed] de Cesaris stayed away from trouble and away from the barriers to take fourth place. Irvine returned for the next race but Sauber had noticed the Italian's form, and signed him to replace the injured Karl Wendlinger in the Mercedes-powered machines.
De Cesaris' career then ended much as it began, when he retired with throttle problems during his last race, the 1994 European Grand Prix. After this, Sauber kept his promise to return the car to Karl Wendlinger if he was fit enough. In the end he wasn't, but de Cesaris was unreachable on holiday, so JJ Lehto replaced him for the final two Grands Prix. De Cesaris ended his career second in Grand Prix starts with 208, behind only Riccardo Patrese (but numerous other drivers have since surpassed his total).
He participated in 214 grands prix, debuting on September 28, 1980. He achieved 5 podiums, one pole position, and scored a total of 59 championship points, but remains the driver with the most GP starts (208) to his name without a win. He also holds records for the most consecutive non-finishes, 18 across 1985 and 1986 (although many of these were mechanical failures), as well as the most successive non-finishes in a single season, 12 in 1987. Similarly, no driver has had more than his 14 DNFs in a 16-race season. He scored points for 9 out of 10 teams he raced for: McLaren, Alfa Romeo, Brabham, Rial, Tyrrell, Jordan, Ligier, Scuderia Italia and Sauber; failing to do so for Minardi only.
Since retiring from motor-racing, de Cesaris has become a successful currency broker in Monte Carlo. It has been reported that he spends six months of the year in this occupation, the other on windsurfing around the world. In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and subsequent tsunami, de Cesaris gave a substantial donation to a sail manufacturer whose factory in Sri Lanka had been destroyed in the disaster.
De Cesaris' helmet was white with three diagonal lines resembling the Italian flag running across the top until the sides, and a red line between two green lines in the chin area.
Long absent from the Formula One paddock, de Cesaris appeared at the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix, and was welcomed back with a warm hug from former Brabham team boss and Formula One czar Bernie Ecclestone. A few months later it was announced de Cesaris would race in the new Grand Prix Masters series for retired Formula One drivers. While some drivers had spent their retirement years accumulating kilos, de Cesaris is still in top physical condition thanks to his frequent windsurfing. And in October he proved he had lost none of his speed, setting fastest time in the first Grand Prix Masters test at the Silverstone South circuit in England. Autosport magazine Grand Prix editor Mark Hughes predicted that de Cesaris would be one of the strongest drivers in the Masters field. In the first race at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa, de Cesaris qualified well and raced to fourth, after a fierce battle with Briton Derek Warwick.
Complete World Championship Formula One results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position / Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
† Driver did not finish the Grand Prix, but was classified as he completed over 90% of the race distance.
- "Persistent non-winner". Forix.com/8w. 1999. Retrieved 2007-01-20.
- "Dutch GP, 1981 Race Report - GP Encyclopedia - F1 History on". Grandprix.com. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- Lancia wins endurance race at Watkins Glen, Doylestown, Pennsylvania Intelligencer, July 13, 1981, Page 13.
- Lauda, Driving a McLaren, Captures Long Beach Grand Prix, New York Times, April 5, 1982, Page C2.
- Lauda, Driving a McLaren, Captures Long Beach Grand Prix, New York Times, April 5, 1982, Page C2
- Italian Prix driver wins in a crawl, Chicago Daily Herald, May 24, 1982, Page 28.
- Arnoux's Ferrari Wins in Germany, New York Times, August 8, 1983, Page C7.
- Patrese wins race, but Piquet wins title, Syracuse Herald Journal, October 15, 1983, Page 9.
- Prost Ties Record With 27th Victory, New York Times, May 18, 1987, Page C11.
- "Formula One Rejects - Reject Statistics". F1rejects.com. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- "An old face in the crowd". Grandprix.com. 2002-05-02. Retrieved 2007-01-28.
- "Mansell wins inaugural GP Masters event". pitpass.com. 13 November 2005. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
23 years, 216 days
(1968 German GP)
|Youngest Grand Prix Polesitter
22 years, 308 days
(1982 United States Grand Prix West)
22 years, 97 days
(1994 Belgian GP)