Andrea de Cesaris 1959 – 2014
The popular Italian packed plenty of drama into his 15-year F1 career.
Despite spectacular crashes and a lack of significant results during an F1 career spanning 214 GPs, a flow of heart-felt tributes said everything about Andrea de Cesaris as a genuinely likeable man. Even allowing for the shock of his fatal motorcycle accident in Rome on 5 October, the sincerity and breadth of the memories reflected his impact in every sense during time spent with ten teams spread across 15 seasons.
A former karting champion, de Cesaris finished second in the 1978 British F3 championship. A step up to F2 with Ron Dennis and Project Four in 1980 led to his F1 debut with Alfa Romeo at the end of the season, followed by a permanent seat with Dennis’s McLaren team in 1981. While team-mate John Watson won a race and consistently scored points, de Cesaris drove his mechanics to despair with a relentless series of incidents that encouraged the nickname ‘de Crasheris’.
Three years with Alfa Romeo hit a high note early on at Long Beach in 1982 when he became the youngest driver to take pole – only to crash out. He would have won Monaco that year had Alfa Romeo not contributed to a bizarre finish by having their car run out of fuel.
Periods at Ligier, Minardi, Brabham, Rial and Dallara produced some points, two podiums and a depth of experience perfect for Jordan’s debut in 1991. Immediately at home there, de Cesaris scored points in Canada, Mexico, France and Germany. In a remarkable drive at Spa, he was closing on Senna’s leading McLaren when his Cosworth V8 ran out of oil.
De Cesaris returned to Jordan in 1994 (after two seasons with Tyrrell) to finish fourth in Monaco as Eddie Irvine’s stand-in. He retired at the end of that year to split his time between currency broking and windsurfing. The warm welcome accompanying his visits to the paddock said everything about his true F1 legacy.