Andrea de Cesaris (born
May 31 1959) is an
Italian former race car driver.
He holds two
distinctions in Formula One
: the longest
career without a race victory (208 grand prix starts), and also his
unofficial title of 'Andrea de Crasheris', owing to a string of
accidents early in his career. Though this reputation remained, he
matured into a fast and reliable driver, though rarely had the
machinery to match his speed.
In 2005 and 2006 he competed in the Grand Prix Masters
formula for retired F1
was born in Rome on May 31 1959. A multiple karting champion, he graduated to Formula 3 in Britain, winning
numerous events before his tendency to make careless mistakes cost
him dearly, and he finished 2nd in the championship to Chico Serra.
A wheel banging incident
with Nigel Mansell
broke the Briton's
neck, and did little to improve Andrea's wild reputation.
Formula 3, he graduated to Formula 2 with
future McLaren boss
Ron Dennis' Project 4 team.
Alfa Romeo (1980)
de Cesaris was then 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. His second race in the United States was a sign of things to come.
- Related article: Alfa
Romeo in Formula One
He crashed on
- Related article: McLaren
However, the pair of races was the start of a 14-year Formula One
career, thanks in large part to family connections with the
Marlboro cigarette brand. Having ready access to what, for many
years, was Formula One's most lavish paymaster helped sustain the
Italian's career through some depressing troughs. Only during his
time with Ligier
was Andrea's helmet free from the bright red
His reputation within the sport was cemented in his early years.
for McLaren in 1981, the
paddock rumour of the time was he was causing so much damage to his
cars that his mechanics refused to repair them. In 14 races he
crashed or spun off six times, a single point at Imola was not enough to convince the resurgent McLaren
team to keep him on.
It was at this point that the nickname
"Andrea de Crasheris" was coined. De Cesaris touched wheels with
the Alfa Romeo of Mario Andretti
the start of the 1981 Monaco
. Both cars retired.
In July 1981 de Cesaris and Henry Pescarolo finished second to the
team of Riccardo Patrese
in a6-hour endurance race
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 showed to be more capable than his latest
result would have suggested. He became the youngest man ever at that
point to take pole position, at the Long Beach
De Cesaris was also only the second Alfa
Romeo driver to capture a pole since 1952. But his immaturity was
also on display. Lapping a slower car, de Cesaris waved his fist
wildly, only to miss a gear and let Niki
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 heclimbed
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 in71 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
into the wall,
taking both out.
His reputation began to improve in 1983, when his Alfa Romeo now
used a turbo engine
. He took two second
places to improve on his career-best results - at Hockenheim in the 1983
German Grand Prix.
. (his first points of the season) and to
Riccardo Patrese in the
season-closing 1983 South
African Grand Prix at Kyalami, 9.319 seconds behind.
De Cesaris rarely
produced a mediocre performance. He came close to winning at Spa-Francorchamps, after leading for much of the race before a
botched pit stop and later a blown engine put paid to his
- Related article: Ligier
The momentum was not sustained in 1984 when he moved to Ligier,
despite its promising Renault turbo engines. Three points were
little reward for a season of hard charging.
1985 was even worse. A strong fourth place at Monaco showed early
promise but the season turned into a dismal one. At the Austrian
Grand Prix de Cesaris suffered a massive crash after 13 laps. He
left the track on an ultra-fast left-hander. On a corner without
tyre walls or armco-barriers, Andrea met a sloping grass bank, dug
in, and tumbled end over end. He was lucky to emerge from the wreck
covered in splattered mud. Still stiff and sore, he was off-form in
the next race in Holland. Hot-headed team boss Guy Ligier lost
patience and de Cesaris was fired. A classic Ligier quote from this
time, "I can no longer afford the services of this young
de Cesaris was in a minor collision with Philippe Alliot
on the 10th lap of the
1985 Canadian Grand Prix
Alliot was forced to withdraw his RAM
car on the 33rd lap, after he spun into a wall.
- Related article: Minardi
Trying to rebuild his career, in 1986 de Cesaris paid to drive for
Italian minnows Minardi
. In an overweight,
slow and unreliable car, Andrea did little to improve a fast
growing reputation as a blocker when being lapped. Worse still, he
was more often than not outpaced by up and coming countryman
. For the first
time in his career, de Cesaris went an entire season without
scoring a point.
- Related article: Brabham
At the time, the reason Brabham-BMW
took on de
Cesaris was said to extend into seven figures, a massive amount of
sponsorship for a driver to bring to a team at the time. But it was
with the Bernie Ecclestone
team that Andrea began to show his raw speed. 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. He usually qualified well, but the super-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 volatile German Gunter
Schmid, the former boss of the ATS
outfit. The car was extremely slimline, with de Cesaris looking
awfully exposed. But, with Cosworth
and brave driving, Andrea often qualified well, and took an
outstanding fourth place in the Detroit Grand Prix
. He also twice
ran out of fuel in the last laps while running in the points, in
- Related articles: Dallara, BMS Scuderia Italia
For 1989, de Cesaris moved to a team where he looked most at home:
the red and white Marlboro-sponsored Dallara squad. Early results
were again promising. A Monaco expert, Andrea was on course for a
podium position in Monte Carlo, before being taken out by triple
world champion Nelson Piquet
Lowes Hairpin. De Cesaris lost his cool in a massive way. As the
cars were locked together, he screamed and waved wildly, before
berating Piquet's Lotus
returning to the pits. Two races later it was Andrea's 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.
He made amends at the next race in Canada, finishing third behind
drivers Thierry Boutsen
and Riccardo Patrese
in a rain-soaked race. It
would be the last time de Cesaris stood on the Formula One
Dallara'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. Reliability was a problem, and he again
failed to score a point all season, even failing to qualify for the
- Related article: Jordan Grand
It seemed after a decade of erratic endeavour that the writing was
finally on the wall for Andrea de Cesaris. Dumped for JJ Lehto
at Dallara, he was signed by Eddie Jordan
for his team's first season in
Formula One. Always a talent spotter, Jordan had run de Cesaris in
Formula 3, but was typically direct in his reason for signing the
Italian: experience and Marlboro money.
The Jordan 191 was one of the most striking and attractive cars
seen in Formula One. Its beauty was complemented by its mechanical
simplicity and speed. Sadly 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, forcing his way past the Benetton of
and was running in the
points when the Jordan's throttle cable snapped.
next race in Canada he delivered
finishing a strong fourth. De Cesaris then rebuffed anyone who
thought this was a fluke by repeating the result next time out in
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. The Belgian circuit
is widely recognised as the greatest test of driver skill in modern
racing. It was a place de Cesaris has always excelled. Despite the
pressure of being outqualified by debutant team-mate Michael Schumacher
de Cesaris was on a
mission all weekend. While Schumacher's inexperience resulted in a
burned out clutch on lap one, de Cesaris moved through the field to
take second position. He was in second position when 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
de Cesaris finished the season 9th in the standings was his best
since 1983, and it was more than anybody expected of the package.
His speed had never been in doubt, but de Cesaris was now driving
with his head much more than his heart, and a restraint that had
been missing during much of his first ten years in Formula One. A
fast and friendly car helped, but Andrea's maturity behind the
wheel was now in no doubt.
- Related article: Tyrrell
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 Andrea's Marlboro backing. Something had to
give, and the Italian left the team where he'd driven his strongest
was quick to snap up Andrea
and his sponsorship and his faith was quickly repaid when de
Cesaris took a fifth in the second race of the season in Mexico.
The drive was spectacular. After being caught up in early spin, he
battled through the field, even slip-streaming past the factory
Ferrari of Jean
The Ilmor V-10 powered Tyrrell 020 was a handy machine, and de
Cesaris was in the points three more times during the season
culminating in an impressive fourth place in the Japanese Grand
1993 was very different. The Ilmor engine had been replaced with
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)
- Related articles: Jordan Grand
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, Andrea 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
. On appeal, Irvine was banned for three races. At the
Pacific Grand Prix
, Aguri Suzuki
drove Irvine's vacated Jordan.
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
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
But, ever the Monaco specialist, he bounced back in Monte Carlo. In
a mature drive, de Cesaris stayed away from trouble and away from
the barriers to take a superb 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
Andrea's first race for Sauber was his 200th Grand Prix in Canada.
he retired after 24 laps, he was again in the points at the next
event, the French Grand
Prix at Magny-Cours.
However the emergency changes to technical
regulations made the Sauber a handful to drive.
The career of Andrea de Cesaris 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
replaced him for the final two Grands Prix.
He participated in 214 grands prix, debuting on September 28
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
retiring from motor-racing, de Cesaris has become a successful
currency broker in Monte
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.
Long absent from the Formula One paddock, Andrea 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, Andrea is still in top physical
condition. 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
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
Complete World Championship Formula One results
) (Races in
indicate pole position / Races in
indicate fastest lap)
- Villeneuve First At Monte Carlo In Ferrari as Only 7 of 20
Finish, New York Times, June 1, 1981, Page C11.
- Lancia wins endurance race at Watkins Glen,
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.
- Alboreto Wins Canadian Grand Prix, New York Times,
June 17, 1985, Page C7.
- Prost Ties Record With 27th Victory, New York Times,
May 18, 1987, Page C11.