|Elio de Angelis|
|Born||26 March 1958|
|Died||15 May 1986 (aged 28)|
|Formula One World Championship Career|
( 108 starts)
|First Race||1979 Argentine Grand Prix|
|Last Race||1986 Monaco Grand Prix|
|First Win||1982 Austrian Grand Prix|
|Last Win||1985 San Marino Grand Prix|
Elio de Angelis (26 March 1958 – 15 May 1986) was an Italian racing driver who participated in Formula One between 1979 and 1986, racing for the Shadow, Lotus and Brabham teams. He was killed during testing at the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet in 1986. Elio de Angelis was a competitive and highly popular presence during the Formula One circus of the 1980s, and is sometimes referred to as Formula One's "last gentleman player".
De Angelis was born into a wealthy and prominent Roman family. His father Giulio ran a successful construction company and raced powerboats and Elio was a fine sportsman, a good tennis player and a fine skier.
He started karting when he was 14, competing against the likes of young Eddie Cheever in a 100cc kart. He quickly rose to international prominence, finishing second in the World Championship in 1975 to Francois Goldstein and winning the European title in 1976.
At the age of 19 he jumped straight into Formula 3 and, at the wheel of a Chevron, won his third ever car race at the Mugello circuit near Florence. He then went on to win the Italian Formula Three Championship in 1977. That year he also took part in some Formula 2 races with Giancarlo Minardi's Scuderia Everest and led his first race.
In 1978 he raced in Formula 2 for Minardi and then for the ICI British F2 Team, he also competed in one round of the British Formula One championship and won the prestious Monaco F3 race. That led to a chance to test for the Shadow F1 team in September that year.
His debut F1 season was in 1979 with Shadow. There was a initalially deal in place with Tyrrell but in the end de Angelis ended up at Shadow with his father paying the bills. He was 20 and had the reputation of being a pay-driver. He finished 7th in his maiden Grand Prix in Argentina and closed 15th in the championship with 3 points.
At the end of the year de Angelis walked out his Shadow contract and joined Mario Andretti at Team Lotus. He was promptly sued by Shadow but it was the right thing to do
1980 - 1981
In 1980 he switched to Lotus and - at the age of 21 - nearly became the youngest Grand Prix winner of all time when he finished a tantalising second at the 1980 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. He did not score again until the Austrian GP in the summer but was then fourth at Monza and Watkins Glen.
At the start of the 1982 season, de Angelis being a concert-standard pianist, famously kept his fellow F1 drivers entertained with his skills while they locked themselves in a Johannesburg hotel before the 1982 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami when the Grand Prix Drivers Association held a strike in protest at the new superlicense conditions imposed by the governing body, FISA. His first victory came later that year in the 1982 Austrian Grand Prix at the Osterreichring, only 0.05 seconds ahead of Keke Rosberg. The win was the last hailed by Colin Chapman's famous act of throwing his cloth cap into the air. Chapman died in December that year and Peter Warr became the new Lotus team manager.
1983 - 1984
In 1983 Lotus switched from the Cosworth DFV they had been using since 1967, to Renault turbo engines, but it was a disappointing season. De Angelis' best result was a fifth place in the 1983 Italian Grand Prix.
In 1984 De Angelis had a much better season, scoring a total of 34 points and finishing third in the standings with three podiums. His best result was a second place at the Detroit Grand Prix, de Angelis was the only driver to finish in the top 5 in 1984 not to score a race win, showing his consistent performances throughout the season with the improving Lotus-Renault.
For 1985, De Angelis was joined by Ayrton Senna. De Angelis' second win came in the third race of the season, at the 1985 San Marino Grand Prix after 'winner' Alain Prost was disqualified when his McLaren MP4/2B was disqualified for being 2kg underweight (Senna had won the previous race in Portugal, his first F1 win, in atrocious conditions). Elio also placed third at the opening race in Brazil and claimed his last F1 pole position in Canada. He finished fifth in the championship, with 33 points, five points behind his team mate. However, de Angelis left Lotus at the end of the season when it became clear the team's efforts were being focused on the younger and faster Senna.
De Angelis' drive for 1986 was with Brabham, as a replacement for twice World Champion Nelson Piquet, who had moved to Williams to join de Angelis' former Lotus team mate Nigel Mansell. Fellow Italian Riccardo Patrese was his team mate at Brabham.
The 1986 Brabham-BMW, the BT55, was a radically designed car with a very low cross section. However, with a modified BMW engine, it was not effective and could not arrest Brabham's swift decline. It quickly became clear that 1986 would not be the year the team recaptured its form of the early 1980s. Nevertheless, de Angelis pushed his hardest to help develop the car.
Death and legacy Edit
During tests at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, the rear wing of his BT55 detached at high speed resulting in the car losing downforce on the rear wheels, which instigated a cartwheel over a sidetrack barrier and causing the car to catch fire. The impact itself did not kill de Angelis but he was unable to extract himself from the car unassisted. The situation was exacerbated by the lack of track marshals on the circuit who could have provided him with emergency assistance. A 30 minute delay ensued before a helicopter arrived and De Angelis died 29 hours later, at the hospital in Marseille where he had been taken, from smoke inhalation. His actual crash impact injuries were only a broken collar bone and light burns on his back. The tragic circumstances of his death caused radical changes to be introduced by then President Jean-Marie Balestre in the months following his accident which ultimately heralded the end of the turbo powered era in Formula One racing.
De Angelis' place in the Brabham team was subsequently taken by Derek Warwick.
de Angelis' helmet design consisted of a white background with black and red lines going down on the both sides of the helmet. His name, Elio de Angelis was written in a cursive font on the black line.
The French-Sicilian driver Jean Alesi - who broke into the sport three years after de Angelis died - wore a helmet that exactly matched de Angelis' design, in tribute to his semi-compatriot.
Complete Formula One World Championship resultsEdit
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)
- ‡ Race was stopped with less than 75% of laps completed, half points awarded.