F1: De Cesaris Killed In Italy

Perhaps the most popular and charismatic driver of the 1980s, Andrea de Cesaris has been killed in a motorbike accident in Rome.

De Cesaris was a driver who polarised opinion - a torrid first season with Mclaren earned him the nickname 'decrasheris' but he matured into a fast, reliable racer who delivered points for nine of the ten teams he eventually raced for. The Andrea De Cesaris fan club was the largest of any driver during his career, a sign of the popularity of a driver whose bravery and commitment often overstepped his own and his car's abilities.

Eddie Cheever, then a Renault driver, remarked after following De Cesaris' Alfa Romeo at Kyalami
in practice "I had to let him go, I was sure he was going to have a big accident at every corner", the following day De Cesaris drove the evil handling Alfa to second place.

Spa, 1991 - victory lost through a lack of oil
De Cesaris was never destined to stand on the top step of the podium, through a combination of average to mediocre cars and a huge amount of poor luck. His best opportunities came at Spa, a true driver's track, nearly a decade apart. In 1983, the first race at the new Spa circuit, De Cesaris twice took the lead from the second row of the grid (a restart was required the first time) and then proceeded to disappear into the distance. Unfortunately a bungled pitstop dropped him out of the lead and shortly after a major engine failure prevented him making it to the line. In 1991, De Cesaris was running second in his 7up Jordan and closing in race leader Ayton Senna's troubled Mclaren Honda when his Cosworth engine failed. The cause of the failure was lack of oil. Cosworth had redesigned the engine to produce more power at the expense of greater oil consumption - but hadn't told anyone at Jordan. Typical of De Cesaris' luck.

That season at Jordan in 1991 and the following season at Tyrrell a year later were undoubtedly Andrea's best in the sport. He had retained the speed of his youth, but added a maturity and level of circumspection to his driving which yielded benefits to both teams in terms of much needed points.
At Alfa Romeo in 1982 Andrea demonstrated his speed

After retiring De Cesaris became a very successful currency trader and a semi-professional surfer. His death at 55 is a tragic loss.

For me, Andrea De Cesaris was one of my all time favourite drivers. I remember his pole position at Long Beach in 1982 - the youngest driver to have achieved that at the time - and the euphoria that followed. The balancing of sponsors hats on the podium at South Africa in 1983, pushing his Jordan over the finish line in Mexico but mostly someone who raced flat out all the way.

Fifteen seasons, 208 races and never boring. Thank you for all the great racing Andrea, rest in peace.

0 comments: