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"In 1985 he was on the brink of achieving every Italian racer's dream"
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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
Alboreto dies in crash
Italy's Michele Alboreto in action for Ferrari
Italy's Michele Alboreto in action for Ferrari
Former Formula One driver Michele Alboreto has been killed during a test drive at a circuit in Germany.

Alboreto, 44, won five Grand Prix races in the 1980s and was a member of the Porsche team which won the 1997 Le Mans 24-hour race and the Audi team which finished third there last year.

The Italian died while testing for Le Mans in an Audi R8 on the Lausitzring circuit near Dresden.

Audi's sports boss, Wolfgang Ullrich, described Alboreto's accident in a statement as an "incomprehensible tragedy".

Alboreto was a great and important driver in Ferrari's history
  Luca di Montezemolo
Ferrari presiden

He added: "We will do everything in our power to find the reason for this accident. But right now, our thoughts are with Michele's wife Nadia, his two daughters and his whole family."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo paid tribute to Alboreto's "irrepressible passion" for motor racing.

"Alboreto was a great and important driver in Ferrari's history," Montezemolo said in a statement.

"He was intelligent and always aware of the technical issues in developing cars. His death pains me deeply."

Alboreto started racing in 1976, made his Formula Three debut in 1978 and won the European title in 1980.

Audi stressed that the chassis involved in the tragedy had 'already completed thousands of test kilometres on numerous circuits without any problems.' They made no comment on a possible cause of the accident.

  Michele Alboreto
F1 career: 1981-1994
F1 teams: Tyrell Ford, Ferrari, Lola Lamborghini, Arrows Ford, Footwork Porsche, Footwork Ford, Footwork Mugen, Lola Ferrari, Minardi Ford
Total GP starts: 194
Total GP points: 186.5
GP wins: five
Pole positions: Two
1997: Wins Le Mans in Joest Porsche
2000: Third in Le Mans

Alboreto is chiefly remembered for his time at Ferrari from 1984-8.

At the time, team founder Enzo Ferrari, who died in 1998, broke one of his own rules in taking on an Italian for his team.

Ferrari said at the time: "My feelings for Michele Alboreto are well known. He's a youngster who drives so well, (makes) few mistakes...

"He's fast, with a good style: gifts that remind me of (Wolfgang) von Trips, who Alboreto resembles even in his educated and serious demeanour."

Von Trips was killed in a crash at the Italian Grand Prix when on the threshold of winning the world title for Ferrari in 1961.

Alboreto was given his F1 chance by Tyrrell in 1981 and won his first Grand Prix in Las Vegas the following year.

His victory for the team at the US GP in Detroit in 1983 was the last win for a car with a normally aspirated engine before turbocharged cars monopolised the competition.

Alboreto switched to Ferrari and won the Belgian GP in 1984 and the Canadian and German races in 1985, when he finished second in the drivers' championship behind Alain Prost.

That was the zenith of his F1 career.

He returned to Tyrrell in 1989 and drove for a succession of teams - Lola, Arrows, Footwork and Minardi - before bowing out of F1 in 1994 and moving to sportscar racing.


Alboreto's family was stunned by the news of his death.

His cousin Marisa told the Italian news agency ANSA: "You can't imagine what we're going through as a family. We're really distraught.

"We're all very confused. I'm here to be close to the family, to the kids."

Alboreto had plans to hand on his great experience to aspiring young drivers.

"I have a project to build another Formula adapted to moulding young drivers," he announced recently. "I'm discussing it, but I'm finding some obstacles."

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