Andrea De Cesaris
by Simon Vigar

Andrea De Cesaris could be very quick (pole at Long Beach 1982) but gained a reputation for ending up in the gravel trap more often than not. He drove for ten teams, including Minardi which enjoyed his services early in the team's Formula 1 adventure. It had all started so well. De Cesaris was world karting champion in 1977 but threw away the British Formula 3 title two years later with a series of errors. He also drove for Ron Dennis in the Project Four Formula 2 team. Thanks to Marlboro backing, De Cesaris started Formula One with Alfa Romeo in 1980 and then got his big break with fellow Marlboro team McLaren.

He trashed a number of cars and seriously underwhelmed Ron. He got a seat back at Alfa and '82 and '83 were the best of his career. His qualifying effort at Long Beach made him the youngest driver (22) to achieve a pole position (a record held by Sebastian Vettel these days). He crashed in the race. In '82 he led at Monaco before running out of fuel and the following year, his last with Alfa, he led at Spa and recorded his best championship finish of eighth. Andrea then had a couple of reasonably successful seasons with Ligier but that form didn't continue with Minardi in 1986. 16 GPs, one race finish, nil points. Minardi was the only team he did not score points for.

He later drove for Brabham, Rial, Dallara, the debutant Jordan team, Tyrrell and finally Sauber. In 1989 he provided one of Formula One's funniest moments when his second-placed Dallara team-mate Alex Caffi lapped him at Phoenix. In a display of fraternal best wishes Andrea seemed to open the door but then cut-up Alex sending him into the armco. In 2005 and 2005, De Cesaris made a short comeback by competing in the Grand Prix Masters series for retired F1 drivers. De Cesaris died in a motorcycle accident in 2014.

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