||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
|Born||12 May 1963|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Active years||1987 – 1992|
|Teams||Brabham, EuroBrun, Tyrrell, Jordan|
|Races||81 (70 starts)|
|First race||1987 Australian Grand Prix|
|Last race||1992 Australian Grand Prix|
Stefano Modena (born 12 May 1963 in Modena) is a former racing driver from Italy. He participated in 81 Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on November 15, 1987. He achieved 2 podiums, and scored a total of 17 championship points.
After two seasons in the Italian Formula Ford national series Modena joined Euroracing in his domestic Formula 3 series in 1985, placing 15th in an Alfa Romeo engined Ralt. For 1986 he switched to Team Seresina's Reynard chassis and scored three wins to finish 4th overall, also placing 2nd at the Monaco support race and winning a round of the European series at Imola. In 1987 he joined Onyx for the Formula 3000 series, winning three rounds and being crowned as champion.
His raw speed saw many mark him as a future champion, resulting in Modena being offered a one-off drive for Brabham in the final race of the 1987 Formula One season. While he impressed by qualifying 15th at Adelaide his inexperience with the turbo charged BMW engine saw him stop three times to replace flat-spotted tyres before retiring with exhaustion before mid-distance. Modena was intent on becoming a full-time Grand Prix driver for 1988, testing for Benetton before the season. However, for a full-time drive he had to join the new EuroBrun team, who included many of the same Euroracing mechanics Modena had worked with in 1985. The car was not competitive however, and Modena was consigned to run near the rear of the field for the year.
1989 saw Brabham reform after a sabbatical in 1988, now owned by Swiss businessman Joachim Luthi but featuring a lot of the same staff as in 1987. Modena was offered one of the seats, driving alongside Martin Brundle. Equipped with Pirelli qualifying tyres Modena frequently qualified well, starting inside the top 10 on eight occasions despite using a Judd V8 engine. However, the car wasn't reliable - though Modena's sole points finish would come with 3rd place at the Monaco Grand Prix. Before the 1990 season Luthi would be imprisoned for fraud and Brabham endured a difficult year with ownership problems. Modena raised the team's spirits by finishing 5th at the season-opening United States Grand Prix but after that results were rare.
He finally got his big break when he was signed as replacement for Ferrari-bound Tyrrell team leader Jean Alesi. With a healthy group of sponsors, 1989 spec Honda engines, Pirelli tyres and a development of the successful 020 chassis much was expected of the combination, with some predicting race wins. While his season started off with 4th place at Phoenix many of the front runners had retired without Modena getting near them. The wet conditions at Imola saw similar attrition allowing Modena to reach 3rd place before transmission failure. The following race at Monaco saw an even better performance as he qualified on the front row alongside World Champion Ayrton Senna, harrying the McLaren driver until being held up in traffic and suffering a violent engine failure. A steadier run in Canada was rewarded with 2nd place after Nigel Mansell retired on the final lap. After that Modena's form dropped off badly as Pirelli struggled to develop a consistent race tyre while the heavy Honda engines made the 020 chassis (originally designed for the Cosworth DFR V8) difficult to balance. While Modena continued to qualify frequently in the top half of the grid he struggled in races, only scoring one more point for 6th place at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The season was considered a huge disappointment, and Modena left Tyrrell for Jordan the following season. The team had made a strong debut in 1991 and many considered Modena was lucky to land a drive with them. However, their car was hindered by the underpowered Yamaha V12 engine and Modena struggled all season. He failed to qualify for four races and became unpopular with his team for his lack of mechanical sympathy and moody behaviour compared to team-mate Mauricio Gugelmin. This was confirmed by Gary Anderson, who had designed the car. Anderson said of Modena that the failures to qualify took his motivation away from him, and, due to his temper, he accumulated disappointments without being able to get over then. Despite scoring the team's only point of the year at the final round in Australia he was unable to find a drive in Grand Prix racing for 1993.
Instead he drove for Alfa Romeo in the Italian and German touring categories from 1993 to 1999, winning occasional races but never looking like winning a title. After a year with Opel in 2000 he retired from motorsport.
Modena had several superstitions, including always driving with one glove turned inside out and not allowing anyone to touch his race car once he was inside other than the team member who helped him with his safety belts. During his F1 career it was not unusual to see Modena get out of his car after being strapped and get back in before the warm-up lap if he had seen someone touch the car.
Complete International Formula 3000 results
(key) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap.)
Complete Formula One results
- Jenkins, Richard. "The World Championship drivers - Where are they now?". OldRacingCars.com. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- "DRIVERS: STEFANO MODENA". Grandprix.com. Inside F1. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
- "ROGUE PROFILE OF STEFANO MODENA". F1Rogues.com. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
- "Stefano Modena: 1991 Formula One Results". racing-reference.info. Fantasy Sports Ventures. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
|FIA European Formula Three Cup winner
|International Formula 3000 Champion