Elio de Angelis

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Elio de Angelis
Anefo 932-2371 Elio de Angelis 03.07.1982.jpg
Elio de Angelis at Zandvoort in 1982
for the Dutch Grand Prix
Born (1958-03-26)26 March 1958
Died 15 May 1986(1986-05-15) (aged 28)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Italy Italian
Active years 19791986
Teams Shadow, Lotus, Brabham
Races 109 (108 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 2
Podiums 9
Career points 122
Pole positions 3
Fastest laps 0
First race 1979 Argentine Grand Prix
First win 1982 Austrian Grand Prix
Last win 1985 San Marino Grand Prix
Last race 1986 Monaco Grand Prix
British Formula One Series career
Active years 1978
Races 1
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podium finishes 1
Career points 12
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0

Elio de Angelis (26 March 1958, Rome – 15 May 1986, Le Castellet) was an Italian racing driver who participated in Formula One between 1979 and 1986, racing for the Shadow, Lotus and Brabham teams. He was killed in an accident while testing the Brabham BT55 at the Paul Ricard circuit, near the commune of Le Castellet, France, in 1986. De Angelis was a competitive and highly popular presence in Formula One during the 1980s, and is sometimes referred to as Formula One's "last gentleman player".[1]

Career[edit]

De Angelis was born in Rome. His father Giulio was a noted inshore and offshore powerboat racer, who won many championships in the 1960s and 1970s.

De Angelis driving for Lotus at the 1981 British Grand Prix.

After a brief spell with karts, he went on to win the Italian Formula Three Championship in 1977. In 1978 he raced in Formula Two for Minardi and then for the ICI British F2 Team, he also competed in one round of the British Formula One championship and won the prestious Monaco F3 race.

His debut Formula One season was in 1979 with Shadow. He finished seventh in his maiden Grand Prix in Argentina and 15th in the championship with three points.

In 1980 he switched to Lotus and – at the age of 21 – nearly became the youngest Grand Prix winner of all time when he finished a tantalising second at the 1980 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

His first victory came in the 1982 Austrian Grand Prix at the Österreichring, only 0.05 seconds ahead of the Williams of eventual 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg. The win was the last hailed by Colin Chapman's famous act of throwing his cloth cap into the air. Chapman died in December that year and Peter Warr became the new Lotus team manager.

In 1983 Lotus switched from the Cosworth DFV they had been using since 1967, to Renault turbo engines, but it was a disappointing season. De Angelis' best result was a fifth place in the 1983 Italian Grand Prix.

In 1984 de Angelis had a much better season, scoring a total of 34 points and finishing third in the standings with three podiums. His best result was a second place at the Detroit Grand Prix. De Angelis was the only driver to finish in the top 5 in 1984 not to score a race win, showing his consistent performances throughout the season with the improving Lotus-Renault.

In 1985, de Angelis was joined at Lotus by Ayrton Senna who had left the Toleman team. De Angelis' second win came in the third race of the season, at the 1985 San Marino Grand Prix after Alain Prost was disqualified when his McLaren MP4/2B for being 2 kg underweight. De Angelis also claimed his last Formula One pole position that year in Canada. He finished fifth in the championship, with 33 points, five points behind his team mate. However, de Angelis chose to leave Lotus at the end of the season, frustrated that the team's efforts were being focused mostly on Senna.

De Angelis' drive for 1986 was with Brabham, as a replacement for twice World Champion Nelson Piquet, who had moved to Williams to join de Angelis' former Lotus team mate Nigel Mansell. Fellow Italian Riccardo Patrese was Elio's team mate. Patrese was returning to the Bernie Ecclestone owned team after two unhappy years with Alfa Romeo.

De Angelis driving for Team Lotus at the 1985 German Grand Prix

The 1986 Brabham-BMW, the Brabham BT55, was the brainchild of long time Brabham designer Gordon Murray. The BT55 was a lowline car with a reduced frontal area, the idea being to have a cleaner airflow over the car to create more downforce, while at the same time reducing the car's drag. The chassis proved effective, unlike the 4cyl BMW turbo that had to be tilted to an angle of 72°. This caused severe oil surge and an even greater lack of throttle response than the BMW had become famous for. Although the team worked hard to overcome these problems, it was clear from early in the season that Brabham had fallen behind the leading pack.

Death and legacy[edit]

During tests at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, the rear wing of de Angelis' BT55 detached at high speed [2] resulting in the car losing downforce on the rear wheels, which instigated a cartwheel over a sidetrack barrier, causing the car to catch fire. The impact itself did not kill de Angelis but he was unable to extract himself from the car unassisted. The situation was exacerbated by the lack of track marshals on the circuit who could have provided him with emergency assistance. A 30 minute delay ensued before a helicopter arrived and de Angelis died 29 hours later, at the hospital in Marseille where he had been taken, from smoke inhalation. His actual crash impact injuries were only a broken collar bone and light burns on his back. The tragic circumstances of his death and the soaring amounts of money companies like Honda and Renault were pouring into making the turbo cars faster, caused radical changes to be introduced by then President Jean-Marie Balestre in the months following his accident which ultimately heralded the end of the turbo powered era in Formula One racing.[citation needed]

De Angelis' death also saw the end of Formula One using the full 5.81 km (3.61 mi) Paul Ricard Circuit. In what many saw as a knee-jerk reaction from FISA,[citation needed] F1 was forced to use the 3.812 km (2.369 mi) "Club" version of the circuit, bypassing the Verriere curves where the Brabham had crashed, and cutting the length of the Mistral Straight from 1.8 to 1 km in length. The move was unpopular with many of the drivers, although most did like the reduced straight length as it was easier on the engines.

De Angelis' place in the Brabham team was subsequently taken by Derek Warwick, allegedly because Warwick was the only available top level driver who did not contact team owner Bernie Ecclestone immediately after de Angelis' death asking to replace him. McLaren driver Keke Rosberg, who was a close friend of de Angelis, retired at the end of the 1986 season.[3]

De Angelis was the last driver to die in a Formula One car until Roland Ratzenberger died during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola eight years later. The day after Ratzenberger's death, de Angelis' former Lotus team mate (and by then a triple World Champion) Ayrton Senna was killed on the seventh lap when his Williams-Renault crashed into the Tamburello Curve wall at over 180 mph (290 km/h).

The French-Italian driver Jean Alesi, who broke into the sport in 1989, wore a helmet that matched de Angelis' design, in tribute to his semi-compatriot.

De Angelis was also a concert-standard pianist, and famously kept his fellow Formula One drivers entertained with his skills while they locked themselves in a Johannesburg hotel before the 1982 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami when the Grand Prix Drivers Association held a strike in protest at the new superlicense conditions imposed by the governing body, FISA.

Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WDC Pts.
1979 Interscope Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN9 Cosworth V8 ARG
7
BRA
12
RSA
Ret
USW
7
ESP
Ret
BEL
Ret
MON
DNQ
FRA
16
GBR
12
GER
11
AUT
Ret
NED
Ret
ITA
Ret
CAN
Ret
USA
4
15th 3
1980 Team Essex Lotus Lotus 81 Cosworth V8 ARG
Ret
BRA
2
RSA
Ret
USW
Ret
BEL
10
MON
9
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
16
AUT
6
NED
Ret
ITA
4
CAN
10
USA
4
7th 13
1981 Team Essex Lotus Lotus 81 Cosworth V8 USW
Ret
BRA
5
ARG
6
SMR
WD
BEL
5
8th 14
Lotus 87 MON
Ret
John Player Team Lotus ESP
5
FRA
6
GBR
DSQ
GER
7
AUT
7
NED
5
ITA
4
CAN
6
CPL
Ret
1982 John Player Team Lotus Lotus 87B Cosworth V8 RSA
8
9th 23
Lotus 91 BRA
Ret
USW
5
SMR
BEL
4
MON
5
DET
Ret
CAN
4
NED
Ret
GBR
4
FRA
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
1
SUI
6
ITA
Ret
CPL
Ret
1983 John Player Team Lotus Lotus 91 Cosworth V8 BRA
DSQ
17th 2
Lotus 93T Renault V6 (tc) USW
Ret
FRA
Ret
SMR
Ret
MON
Ret
BEL
9
DET
Ret
CAN
Ret
Lotus 94T GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
NED
Ret
ITA
5
EUR
Ret
RSA
Ret
1984 John Player Team Lotus Lotus 95T Renault V6 (tc) BRA
3
RSA
7
BEL
5
SMR
3
FRA
5
MON
5
CAN
4
DET
2
DAL
3
GBR
4
GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
NED
4
ITA
Ret
EUR
Ret
POR
5
3rd 34
1985 John Player Special Team Lotus Lotus 97T Renault V6 (tc) BRA
3
POR
4
SMR
1
MON
3
CAN
5
DET
5
FRA
5
GBR
NC
GER
Ret
AUT
5
NED
5
ITA
6
BEL
Ret
EUR
5
RSA
Ret
AUS
DSQ
5th 33
1986 Motor Racing Developments Brabham BT55 BMW Straight-4 (tc) BRA
8
ESP
Ret
SMR
Ret
MON
Ret
BEL
CAN
DET
FRA
GBR
GER
HUN
AUT
ITA
POR
MEX
AUS
NC 0
  • ‡ Race was stopped with less than 75% of laps completed, half points awarded.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Riccardo Patrese
Italian Formula Three Champion
1977
Succeeded by
Siegfried Stohr
Preceded by
Didier Pironi
Monaco Formula Three
Race Winner

1978
Succeeded by
Alain Prost
Preceded by
Riccardo Paletti
Formula One fatal accidents
May 15, 1986
Succeeded by
Roland Ratzenberger
Records
Preceded by
Bruce McLaren
21 years, 322 days
(1959 British GP)
Youngest Driver to score a
Podium Position in Formula One

21 years, 307 days
(1980 Brazilian Grand Prix)
Succeeded by
Ralf Schumacher
21 years, 287 days
(1997 Argentine GP)