Vincenzo Sospiri

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Vincenzo Sospiri
Born (1966-10-07) 7 October 1966 (age 47)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Italy Italian
Active years 1997
Teams Lola
Races 1 (0 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1997 Australian Grand Prix
Last race 1997 Australian Grand Prix

Vincenzo Sospiri (born 7 October 1966 in Forlì) is a retired Italian racing driver.

Early career[edit]

Sospiri started racing in the Italian 100CC Karting Championships at the age of 15. He spent a long time working his way through the karting ladder, eventually becoming World Karting Champion in 1987. Sospiri then progressed to Formula Ford, before working through to Formula 3000 in 1991, as team-mate to Damon Hill in the Middlebridge Lola T91/50 Cosworth. In an uncompetitive car, he was only capable of 9 points all season, including a second place at the German round of the championship at the Hockenheimring. He stepped back down into the Italian F3 series in 1992, before making a return to Formula 3000 in 1993, driving a Reynard 93D Judd for the Mythos team. He moved to the Super Nova team for 1994 and mounted a challenge for the championship despite not winning any races, eventually finishing fourth. He stayed at Super Nova for 1995 where he won three races and beat his team-mate Ricardo Rosset to the F3000 title.

Formula One[edit]

Sospiri driving for MasterCard Lola at the 1997 Australian Grand Prix.

He had tested for the Simtek Formula One team at Estoril in 1994, but was unable to raise enough funds to gain a race seat at the time. Despite winning the Formula 3000 title in 1995, very few options were available for Sospiri, so he chose to take the role of official Benetton test driver for the year.

Sospiri finally got his chance to race in Formula One with the MasterCard Lola project in 1997. Unfortunately it was clear from the first race, where both Sospiri and his former F3000 team mate Ricardo Rosset were more than 10 seconds off the pace and failed to qualify after being well outside the 107% rule, that the car was not capable of making the grid in a world championship race. Sospiri hoped to return to the grid in Brazil, but the team was withdrawn due to the massive debts incurred by its failing Formula One effort.

After Formula One[edit]

IndyCar and Champ Car[edit]

After the collapse of Mastercard-Lola Sospiri turned his attention to the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series where he signed on with Team Scandia to race in the 1997 Indianapolis 500. Sospiri put the Scandia Dallara-Oldsmobile third on the starting grid in his first IndyCar start and finished 17th in the race. Later that season he finished second at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He finished 21st in the championship despite only competing in six of the ten races of the 1996-1997 season. In 1998 Sospiri was brought on to Dan Gurney's All American Racers team as a late-season replacement for P. J. Jones and drove in the final four races of the season for the team. He had a best finish of 15th at both Houston and Surfers Paradise and failed to finish in the points as the team's struggles continued.[1] He was named to an ISM Racing entry for the 1999 Indianapolis 500 but the car was driven by Brian Tyler instead, who failed to qualify.

Sports cars and team ownership[edit]

In 1998 and 1999, he won the Sports Racing World Cup with a Ferrari 333 SP, teaming up with Emmanuel Collard. This resulted in a drive in the lead Toyota at the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans with Collard and Martin Brundle. Unfortunately, frequent gearbox problems and a puncture while Brundle was driving took the polesitter out of the race. He retired from racing in 2001 and is now the team manager for the Euronova team in Italian Formula 3000.

Legacy[edit]

Sospiri was a major inspiration for Michael Schumacher. In a Q&A session with F1 Racing readers in 2012, when asked about his racing heroes, Schumacher replied: "To start with, it was Vincenzo Sospiri. Then it was Ayrton Senna. Those two guys inspired me big time while I was karting".[2]

Racing record[edit]

Complete International Formula 3000 results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 DC Points
1990 Eddie Jordan Racing DON
SIL
PAU
JER
8
MNZ
PER
HOC
BRH
BIR
BUG
NOG
DNQ
NC 0
1991 Eddie Jordan Racing VAL
Ret
PAU
DNQ
JER
15
MUG
4
PER
Ret
HOC
2
BRH
16
SPA
10
BUG
Ret
NOG
13
8th 9
1993 Mythos Racing DON
Ret
SIL
Ret
PAU
6
PER
2
HOC
3
NÜR
6
SPA
5
MAG
5
NOG
Ret
7th 16
1994 Super Nova Racing SIL
4
PAU
2
CAT
3
PER
Ret
HOC
4
SPA
Ret
EST
2
MAG
5
4th 24
1995 Super Nova Racing SIL
2
CAT
1
PAU
1
PER
2
HOC
Ret
SPA
1
EST
7
MAG
4
1st 42

Complete Formula One results[edit]

(key)

Yr Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Points
1997 Mastercard Lola F1 Team Lola T97/30 Ford V8 AUS
DNQ
BRA
DNP
ARG
SMR
MON
ESP
CAN
FRA
GBR
GER
HUN
BEL
ITA
AUT
LUX
JPN
EUR
NC 0

American open–wheel racing results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

IndyCar[edit]

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Rank Points
1996-1997 Team Scandia United States
NWH
 
United States
LSV
 
United States
WDW
 
United States
PHX
 
United States
INDY
17
United States
TXS
9
United States
PPIR
6
United States
CHR
Ret
United States
NH2
2
United States
LV2
Ret
21st 134

Indy 500 results[edit]

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team
1997 Dallara Oldsmobile 3 17 Scandia

CART[edit]

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Rank Points
1998 All American Racers United States
MIA
Japan
MOT
United States
LBH
United States
NZR
Brazil
RIO
United States
STL
United States
MIL
United States
DET
United States
POR
United States
CLE
Canada
TOR
United States
MIS
United States
MDO
United States
ROA
Canada
VAN
United States
LS
Ret
United States
HOU
15
Australia
SRF
15
United States
FON
Ret
29th 0

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Class No Tyres Car Team Co-Drivers Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1998 LMP1 5 M Ferrari 333 SP
Ferrari F310E 4.0L V12
France JB Racing France Jean-Christophe Boullion
France Jérôme Policand
187 DNF DNF
1999 LMGTP 1 M Toyota GT-One
Toyota R36V 3.6L Turbo V8
Japan Toyota Motorsports
Germany Toyota Team Europe
United Kingdom Martin Brundle
France Emmanuel Collard
90 DNF DNF

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vinenzo Sospiri, Champ Car Stats, Retrieved 2011-12-30
  2. ^ [You Ask the Questions: Michael Schumacher, F1 Racing, October 2012
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Eddie Irvine
Formula Ford Festival Winner
1988
Succeeded by
Niko Palhares
Preceded by
Jean-Christophe Boullion
International Formula 3000 Champion
1995
Succeeded by
Jörg Müller