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Michele Alboreto

2021-04-11 23:42

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Michele Alboreto

Michele Alboreto was born in Milan on December 23, 1956. The future young Italian Ferrari driver spent a quiet childhood, and after graduating as an i

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Michele Alboreto was born in Milan on December 23, 1956. The future young Italian Ferrari driver spent a quiet childhood, and after graduating as an industrial expert he worked as a sales representative. But his love for racing is going to bring him on another path. The first experiences in Motorsport are on motorcycles, later moving on to the world of four wheels. Alboreto's competitive debut took place in the seventies, to be precise in 1976, in Formula Monza, and his first approach to competitions is similar in some ways to that of Bruno Giacomelli, the young guy from Brescia who emigrated to England to work at March, and then use savings to race in single-seaters.

 

Michele races for Scuderia Salvati at the wheel of a car he built himself, with the support of some friends. The car is not competitive at all but soon the experts realize that Michele has an innate talent for racing, and thanks to small sponsorships he driver manages to land in Formula Italy. Thanks to the support of Mario Simone Vullo's team, Michele obtained a victory, finishing fourth in the drivers' overall standings. The excellent results soon allowed him to make his debut in a Formula 3 race, a category where Alboreto will race in the following years. Giancarlo Pavanello trusts his talent, and in 1979 calls him in Euroracing team for the Italian Formula 3 Championship. The young Michele will find at his side the expert Piercarlo Ghinzani, who is a source of inspiration for Alboreto. To confirm his immense talent, the second place in the final classification of the championship, behind Ghinzani.

 

Simultaneously with his commitment to the Italian championship, Alboreto took part in the European Championship, which was won the following year despite a car not quite up to the situation. In 1980 Michele was hired by Lancia Corse, thanks to the intuition of Cesare Fiorio, head of the Lancia team, and disputed four races in Group 5 driving a Lancia Beta Montecarlo, arriving in second place at the 1000 Kilometers of Brands Hatch paired with Eddie Cheever, and then repeated the result also at the 6 Hours of Mugello and the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen.

 

The following year he won in Formula 2 at Misano driving a Minardi, and made his debut in Formula 1 at the race in Imola, driving for Tyrrell, thanks to the support of Count Zanon, the famous patron of motoring who deserved to have relaunched his career a few years earlier by Ronnie Peterson. At the San Marino Grand Prix, Michele qualifies seventeenth ahead of his teammate Cheever, and in the race he is the author of a comeback until retirement due to a rear-end collision with Gabbiani chasing him.

 

At the same time Alboreto took part in the World Sportscar Championship with the Lancia, winning the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen paired with Patrese, and made his debut at Le Mans obtaining an excellent eighth place overall and second in the category of group 5 cars. His first season in Formula 1 ends without major jolts and indeed, on two occasions, in Spain and Germany, Michele suffers the shame of the lack of qualification. In 1982, Lancia's introduction of the new LC1 led Alboreto to achieve his best results: the Milanese managed to win the 1000 Kilometers of Silverstone, the 1000km of the Nurburgring and the Mugello 6 Hours.

 

The victory at Mugello takes him to the top of the world championship, but two accidents in the last two races will force him to finish only in fifth place in the overall standings. In Formula 1, on the other hand, he continues to race for Tyrrell and first gets his first world championship points in Brazil, with a sixth place that then becomes fourth due to the disqualifications of Rosberg and Piquet, and then repeats in Long Beach with a fourth place.

 

In the meantime, the clash between Fisa and Foca intensifies and many English teams decide to boycott the San Marino Grand Prix. Tyrrell also seems willing not to take part in it but given that the contract with Candy is about to expire, and the Italian factory could have removed the sponsorship from the English team, Ken Tyrrell decides to take part in the event. Taking advantage of the defect of Renault and the absence of the English manufacturers, Alboreto is third in the race and thus obtains his first career podium, but he declares himself unsatisfied because he believes he only got on the podium because of the defections of the other English teams, not for the real value of the car.

 

These excellent results inevitably attract the attention of the top teams, but Ken Tyrrell is not willing to deprive himself, convinced that Michele's driving and testing skills are irreplaceable, and that a driver like him, in addition to obtaining excellent results in the race, is also capable of saving money in the development of the car. The central part of the season, however, reserves little satisfaction for Alboreto, as only in the French Grand Prix he manages to get a sixth place, followed by a fourth place in Germany.

 

On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix, in Monza, announcing the drivers for the 1983 season, Ferrari reserves words of esteem for the young Italian driver, to whom they promise that he would be hired if he asked for. Michele is understandably flattered, but expresses a desire to focus on the present. Two weeks later the Milanese driver took his first success in Formula 1, at Caesar's Palace, preceding Watson and Cheever. This success allows him to place eighth in the final standings, with 25 points.

 

The following year the Tyrrell can boast a very high budget, thanks to the entry of Benetton as a sponsor, and makes the Tyrrell 011 available to Alboreto, which according to the English manager could have been a car capable of fighting for the World Championship. But the single-seater proves to be not very competitive as it suffers from the equipment of an aspirated engine, the Cosworth. Cosworth itself will try to remedy the problem by entrusting Alboreto with a new, more powerful engine, but the results will not improve.

 

Despite this, Alboreto obtained his second career victory, in Detroit, thanks to the right choice of tires and the conformation of the track, suitable for his engine, proving to be a driver capable of expressing himself to the maximum on city tracks, given that even in Long Beach could have fought for the victory, but is involved in a contact with Jean-Pierre Jarier that does not allow him to go beyond the ninth place.

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This victory relaunches him in the drivers market, so much so that Alboreto will claim to have contacts with various teams for the following championship. Meanwhile, the season continues with no further notes, despite the introduction of a new car, the Tyrrell 012, which does not allow him to go beyond a sixth place at the Dutch Grand Prix. In September Michele was awarded the Varzi Prize, destined for the most promising Italian driver, and at the end of the month his move to Ferrari was made official. Having concluded the last Grand Prix always being forced to retire, Alboreto closed the 1983 season in twelfth place with ten points obtained.

 

Despite the good results during the winter tests and the high expectations of the driver, the 1984 season will prove to be disappointing overall. In his official debut in Brazil, Michele conquers the front row thanks to the second time set in qualifying. The Milanese driver sprints alongside De Angelis' Lotus, but his race ends after a few laps due to a breakdown.

 

Only in Zolder, in the Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari team shows itself superior to the competition. After a disappointing qualifying session on Friday, Alboreto managed to take pole position on Saturday, improving his lap time by about four seconds, despite only minor changes to the car. In the race Michele manages to impose himself in front of Warwick and his partner Arnoux. Later in the year, also thanks to the performance of the Goodyear tires, Alboreto will not be able to conquer other successes: in Imola and in France he is in fact forced to retire.

 

In Monaco the situation seems to improve, thanks a track that particularly suits to the 126 C4, and since the first tests Alboreto is competitive, to the point that he gets the provisional pole on Thursday, then transformed into a fourth place on Saturday. In the race, however, Michele will not go beyond seventh place, which subsequently became sixth due to Tyrrell's disqualification from the world championship.

 

After the Dallas Grand Prix, which is worth only half a point because the race is suspended without at least seventy five percent of the scheduled laps having been covered, the Italian driver still declares himself confident and attributes the result to his excessive impetuousness and unfavorable weather. In spite of this, the performance of the car will not improve and Alboreto will often be the victim of breakdowns.

 

After the US-East Grand Prix, Ferrari announces the renewal of the contract for both drivers and is committed to putting a modified car on track. In fact, two different models are brought to Austria, but in spite of this there are only small progresses in practice, while in the race Alboreto, despite being weakened by fever, manages to seize third place, also favored by the withdrawal of some of his competitors.

 

In the last few races, however, there will be an improvement in the situation that will allow the Italian driver to arrive on the podium in two other events, a second place in Monza, then repeated at the Nurburgring, and finishing with a fourth place in Portugal. His first season in Ferrari ends with the fourth place overall in the standings, with 30.5 points.

 

The 1985 seems to be the golden year of Alboreto, who at the wheel of the 156/85 came close to victory in the world championship fighting for a long time against Prost and the McLaren Tag Porsche. But as usual the technical problems, this time of reliability, are holding back the ambitions of a title. In the inaugural Grand Prix, in Brazil, Michele Alboreto sets the best time in qualifying and conquers pole, but in the race he will have to give way to Alain Prost, who crosses the finish line in first position, distancing him by a few seconds, while René Arnoux closes in fourth position.

 

A good start for Ferrari, countered by the surprise that on April 17th René Arnoux terminates his contractual agreement with Enzo Ferrari, who thanks him for his collaboration in recent years: his seat it will be taken by the Swede Stefan Johansson, who was free at the end of 1984. The first race of the season demonstrated Ferrari's excellent competitiveness, also confirmed in Portugal, on the Estoril circuit, given that under the rain that will see Senna's first win, Michele Alboreto repeats himself and finishes second, thus finding himself at the top of the world rankings.

 

In Imola, however, the race to success for Michele is interrupted due to an electrical problem. Surprisingly, in a very special race, which sees several competitors stop for lack of petrol, Johansson almost manages to win the Grand Prix, except that he too is forced to stop due to lack of fuel in the tank. In Monte Carlo, Michele Alboreto obtains another second place, the third in four races, while for Johansson the Grand Prix ends on the first lap, due to an accident. After this series of placings that lead him to be able to play the title, Alboreto wins in Montréal and authoritatively leads the drivers' standings. Stefan Johansson completes the Ferrari party with second place.

 

The good moment of Ferrari continues in Detroit, as Johansson closes in second place ahead of Alboreto, who with this further good result extends the lead over Elio De Angelis, second in the standings. After a setback on the Paul Ricard circuit, Michele obtained an excellent second place at Silverstone, now only two points ahead of Alain Prost, who in the meantime managed to recover in the standings. But above all, he wins authoritatively on the new Nurburgring circuit.

 

At the end of the Grand Prix, Alboreto will say that he feels satisfied with the victory obtained, in particular for the progress highlighted by the engine of his car, but at the same time he invites the fans to contain the enthusiasm given the many races are still to be played before the end of the championship. For his part, Alain Prost, although saddened by the outcome of the race, says he is confident for the rest of the season, especially for the fact that the development of his McLaren is proceeding regularly.

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It can be said that this is perhaps the moment when the championship begins to change for Ferrari and Michele Alboreto, due to the aforementioned sudden collapse in reliability of the 156-85. In Austria, Michele limits the car's lack of performance by taking a third place that keeps him at the top of the standings with the race winner Alain Prost, while in the Netherlands he does not go beyond fourth place. In Monza, in front of an audience that is waiting for nothing but a success from Ferrari, Michele is forced to retire during the forty-fifth lap due to engine failure, while Alain Prost wins and extends his advantage in the standings, which now amounts to to twelve points.

 

The reason for the sharp drop in performance can be found in the modifications that Ferrari made to the engine over the course of the season. In fact, it was realized too late, that reliability is lacking as the oil recovery pumps of the new engine are insufficient and tend to emulsify the oil; moreover, suddenly the KKK turbines also stop working regularly.

 

Some changes such as changing the attachment of the front shock absorbers to the chassis will also fail. The emblem of this grotesque situation will be the Belgian Grand Prix, which should have taken place in June. However, after qualifying, where Alboreto sets the best time, the Grand Prix is ​​postponed to September because the asphalt tends to flake. But when in September, in the midst of Ferrari's crisis, we return to the circuit to compete in the Grand Prix, both the evolved car and the model used the first time will be much slower and far from the best.

 

In the race, Alboreto stops on lap three due to a broken clutch, while Alain flies towards the title thanks to his third place. A similar situation will repeat at the European Grand Prix, which was raced at Brands Hatch, as Alboreto stops due to engine failure, and Prost comes fourth, bringing the advantage over the Italian driver to nineteen points, just two races from the end: just enough to mathematically become World Champion.

 

Unnecessary to say, in South Africa and Australia Alboreto will retire on both occasions, first for yet another engine failure, and in Adelaide for a gearbox malfunction. When they ask Prost at the end of the season when he was sure he could win the world championship, the Frenchman will reply:

 

"When Ferrari started breaking engines".

 

In fact, reliability for the Maranello team had been a strength in recent years, and the numerous breakages therefore represent a rather unusual circumstance. Ten years later, Alboreto will remember that season by telling an anecdote about Enzo Ferrari: after the victory in Germany, right in the house of the Porsche that wanted to celebrate a victory for Prost, the troubles for Ferrari begin. The parts that inexplicably begin to break came from German companies that supply the same components to McLaren-Porsche (notably, the KKK turbines).

 

These will be examined, but no defects will be found. Therefore, the suspicion arises that these components may be of lower quality than those supplied to Ron Dennis' team, sending Enzo Ferrari into a rage who, in a meeting with Alboreto and Piccinini, the sporting director, says:

 

"Put those pieces in a basket and throw them away. Now I call America and I want some new pieces here in the morning".

 

Although Piccinini tries to point out that it was not possible, out of the blue and without testing, to change a tested component for a completely new one, Ferrari orders the new parts by contacting the American Garrett. The components arrive in Maranello within a few weeks, but the result of this choice are four consecutive withdrawals: the engine was in fact designed and developed to use the German KKK turbines and, now three quarters of the season, it is almost impossible to redesign it in in order to adapt it to the new specifications.

 

Michele Alboreto will therefore not be able to counter Prost, which wins his first world title. The bitterness will be so great in Maranello, to the point of leading Ferrari himself to say, in an interview with his faithful secretary Gozzi:

 

"We owe a world championship to Michele".

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Michele opens his 1986 season by announcing that he has no predetermined goals, and is simply aiming for the best possible results. In the winter tests, Ferrari itself runs its drivers with the car of the previous year, obtaining slower times than Williams and McLaren, direct competitors for the title, and the press office of the Maranello house makes statements in line with those of the driver. At the beginning of March the new F1-86 was presented, which at its debut at the Brazilian Grand Prix had few tests on the Fiorano circuit, prompting Alboreto himself to say that he cannot predict the behavior of the car in the race.

 

In free practice the Milanese is the protagonist of a spectacular accident, from which he nevertheless comes out unscathed, due to a collision with Patrick Tambay's car, following which his Ferrari lifts up and falls back to the ground several times. In the race he will then be forced to retire due to a breakdown in the petrol system. Reliability and grip problems, which a powerful engine cannot make up for, represent a limitation both for Alboreto and for his teammate Stefan Johansson. Despite the commitment of the Milanese driver, who at Imola is forced to retire with four laps to go while occupying third place, and in Monaco, where he takes several risks in qualifying in order to start in a good position, the first points arrive only at Belgian Grand Prix with a fourth place.

 

Just in the weekend of Spa the Milanese was reconfirmed with the role of first guide also for 1987. The good result obtained in Belgium will, however, be followed by a bad performance in Canada, leading to a very high moment of tension in the team, with Alboreto who will burst several times, thanks to four engine failures on Friday alone. In the race he will also suffer a bruise on his right knee following a spin to avoid Johansson. Once the tensions have subsided, Michele still declares confident for the rest of the season and eager to stay with Ferrari, despite persistent rumours of a move to Williams for 1987.

 

Continued mechanical breakdowns and unfortunate episodes will continue to affect him until the end of the Championship, with the exception of the Austrian Grand Prix where he will manage to take second place, which will be his best result of the year, followed by a fifth place in Portugal. At the end of the season Michele finished ninth in the drivers' standings, with fourteen points.

 

For the new season, Ferrari hires Austrian Gerhard Berger as teammate of Alboreto. The relationship between the two, initially, is not good, since although Alboreto is considered the first guide, John Barnard, designer of the team, decides to directly take care of the Austrian's car. The first tests do not grant comforting results, given that Williams and Lotus record significantly lower times; in addition, a significant problem is found in the braking system, which does not come into action if subjected to stress. In Brazil, due to excessive tire wear and problems with his car, Michele went off the track with three laps to go, while fighting with Berger for fourth place.

 

Already from the first round, however, Barnard's preference for Alboreto's teammate becomes evident, placing the Italian in a secondary role. Despite this, at Imola he manages to show off, thanks above all to a good strategy and a long duel with Ayrton Senna, finishing third even if in the last twenty laps an engine valve problem does not allow him to obtain a more prestigious result. The speed progress is also confirmed in Belgium; after qualifying fifth, Michele occupies the second position and recovers on race leader Nelson Piquet, although he was pressed by Prost, when, however, he was forced to retire due to an engine failure.

 

The Milanese driver, although extremely disappointed by the failure on his car as he saw the possibility of obtaining an important result, recognizes the goodness of the single-seater project. In Monaco, on the other hand, he is the protagonist of an accident with Christian Danner during tests in which his car, after getting on a guard rail, makes several turns and breaks into various parts. Released unscathed from the clash, Michele manages to take off the race, which ends in third place.

 

After Monte Carlo Alboreto will be forced to a long series of retirements, including the one in Hungary, which took place while he occupies the second position. Just during the Hungarian appointment, according to the driver the performance of the car marked a good improvement. During the summer Michele renews his contract with the Maranello team, despite rumours of his abandonment also caused by the better treatment received by the team from the team.

 

Only at the Japanese Grand Prix will he be able to finish a race again in the points and, at the last world round, will he get a second place, his best result of the season, also due to Senna's disqualification, due to the brake air intakes. deemed irregular. Alboreto therefore concludes the championship in seventh place, with 17 points obtained.

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For 1989, the FIA ​​decides to ban turbo engines. Ferrari therefore prefers to focus on the following season, running the previous year's car for 1988 with some minor modifications. Despite this, the Maranello house is considered one of the favourites in the fight for the title and the winter tests themselves seem to give excellent indications. In fact, however, the season is dominated by McLaren, with drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost able to win fifteen races out of sixteen. For his part, Alboreto starts the year with a fifth place in Brazil, but complains, as does Berger, about the performance of the engine, a result much slower than expected; the same problems will then be confirmed also during a test on the Monza circuit.

 

After a retirement in Imola in a troubled race, the Milanese driver will return to the podium in Monaco, but will admit that he cannot fight for victory in the race given the clear superiority of his rivals, unless they had retired. Already after the Mexican Grand Prix, which ended in fourth position, rumours spread of a possible arrival of Nigel Mansell in Ferrari, in the place of the Milanese driver; his performance, in fact, is lower than that of his teammate, problems recognized by the driver himself, who says he has difficulty driving the car as it lacks balance. Mansell's arrival for the following season will be confirmed at the beginning of July, even if Enzo Ferrari would still be willing, if Alboreto wanted to, to renew his contract.

 

A few days later, at the British Grand Prix, the cars from Maranello managed to beat the McLarens in qualifying, monopolizing the front row. In the race, however, the excessive fuel consumption puts both drivers in difficulty and Alboreto, now forced to back up, tries to mount the dry tires in the hope that the track will dry up, but the choice will prove to be wrong and will not be able to get any results.

 

Meanwhile Michele gets in touch with Frank Williams, who assures him a place in his stable for 1989, but asks him to wait a few months to start negotiations. In September, however, the British manufacturer does not keep his word by hiring Thierry Boutsen, leaving Michele in a difficult situation and without a contract for the following year. In the rest of the season the only acute will arrive at the Italian Grand Prix: less than a month after the death of Enzo Ferrari, thanks to the retirements of Senna and Prost, Ferrari hits its only double win this season with Berger in front of Alboreto.

 

The decisive event of the race takes place in the final after Alboreto, in third position, begins to force the pace, pushing Berger to do the same. Shortly after the lead Senna, which Ferraris are approaching, retires for a collision with a lapped and Alboreto finishes the race about half a second behind Berger. Michele hoped to be rewarded by his team for the work done in his five years in Maranello with the victory of the race, but this does not happen. The last useful result of the season comes with a fifth place in Portugal, followed by two retirements and an eleventh place.

 

In 1989 Michele returned to the team that launched him in Formula 1, Tyrrell, despite the fact that it was in an economic crisis. In this regard, Alboreto does not perform any tests, and struggles even just to get into the car from the previous year that would have been used in the first races. The initial results are disappointing and characterized by several mechanical problems: in Monaco, then, Michele refuses to take part in the tests in protest against the team that entrusted the new car to Palmer, and not to him.

 

However, when he will have the new car in his hands, the Milanese driver immediately obtains excellent results, thanks to the first championship points collected with the fifth place in Monaco. The progress will also be confirmed in Mexico: in qualifying Alboreto will finish seventh and I will not fail to praise Harvey Postlethwaite, designer of the team, for the competitiveness of the car he had made available to him. In the race he will long be the protagonist of a duel with Patrese for second place, finally reaching third place.

 

Despite this, the situation of the Tyrrell is increasingly critical and the pilot himself confirms the impossibility of carrying out any type of test due to the lack of funding. After the Canadian Grand Prix Ken Tyrrell signs a sponsorship deal with Camel, ordering Alboreto, backed by Marlboro, to do the same. The Milanese refuses and the partnership with the English team ends here. He will be replaced by the future Ferrari driver Alesi.

 

After a couple of weeks, Michele manages to find an alternative solution by agreeing with Larrousse to drive one of the Lola cars until the end of the season, but the lack of competitiveness of the car does not allow him to obtain any significant results, leading him to fail even the qualification in the last three races.

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Alboreto has been making contacts with Arrows since September for a possible transition to the English team for 1990: a year to forget for Michele, in which he will miss the qualification at Imola and Monaco. His best result will be ninth place in Portugal. Even worse will be the 1991 season, with the adoption of the Porsche engine. The German house provides the British team with a bulky engine, which delivers little power, therefore both Alboreto and Caffi, who for some races will be replaced by Johansson following an accident, will struggle even just to qualify, so much so that Footwork Arrows decides, while the championship is in progress, to return to the Ford engine.

 

During some tests carried out in April on the Imola circuit, Alboreto will even be the protagonist of an accident while testing the new FA12, as a result of which he will suffer a leg injury that will cost him fifteen stitches. With this incident Michele will risk missing the Grand Prix of the Republic of San Marino, but in the end he will still decide to race even if in pain, missing the qualification. At the end of the season, the Milanese driver will be able to finish just two races, taking a thirteenth place in the final race in Australia as the best result.

 

In 1992 Footwork switches to Mugen Honda engines and the situation seems to improve: the Milanese rider after three years gets his first world championship points at Interlagos, thanks to an excellent sixth place, while in Spain, under the flood, he comes fifth, replicating this result also in Imola. In Monaco he lost sixth place due to a contact with Brundle, but with an excellent comeback he climbed up to seventh place. Michele subsequently touches the points zone on four other occasions, and gets his last point of the season in Portugal. At the end of the championship, Alboreto is the driver who has covered the most kilometers in the entire season, 4.418 to be precise. But despite these good results, Footwork does not confirm it for 1993.

 

During the winter break before the 1993 season, Alboreto is involved in a major road accident along the A4 motorway, from which he luckily comes out unharmed despite his car having caught fire. The same day the driver was supposed to go to England to see the development of his car. The Scuderia Italia has in fact interrupted the collaboration with Dallara, having Lola built its own chassis. For Michele it is a season lacking in satisfactions, so much so that there is no qualification in five rounds and his season ends with the Portuguese Grand Prix. The precarious economic situation of Minardi and Scuderia Italia will push the two teams to merge, and Giancarlo Minardi will offer Michele the opportunity to race with the team from Faenza.

 

The 1994 season will be the last in Formula 1 for the Milanese driver, who scored his last world championship point in Monaco. At Imola the Italian driver will be the protagonist of a serious accident in the pit lane, losing a wheel at 140 km/h and injuring three Ferrari mechanics, one from Lotus and one from Benetton. This episode will lead Michele, an authoritative voice in the paddock, to protest vehemently with the FIA ​​to encourage it to reduce the speed in and out of the pit lane. At the same time, the Milanese will work, together with other colleagues, for the reconstitution of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, the drivers' union of which Gerhard Berger, Michael Schumacher and Christian Fittipaldi will be elected leaders.

 

However, the speed limits in the pits, which were initially set at 50 km/h, are raised after a few races, but Alboreto will continue to respect the speed of 50 km/h as a safety warning, even at the cost of compromising his race results. However, this form of protest will not be successful and the limits will no longer be lowered that much. Later in the season, only in Hungary will Michele reach a useful result, finishing seventh. In August he decides to leave the drivers union as he does not agree with the position taken regarding the Grand Prix of Italy, accusing some colleagues of being manipulated to transfer the race to another place. Solved the problem with a compromise between drivers and federation, in the last races Michele does not obtain useful results, and in December announces his retirement from Formula 1.

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The passion for engines continues to reside in Michele's heart, so much so that, once his career in Formula 1 is over, he decides to participate in the Dtm championship at the wheel of Alfa Romeo, but the experience will not be lucky. In the same year he will also participate in the IMSA championship, in which he will get two pole positions, one won at the 24 Hours of Daytona and one at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Then, in November, Michele carries out the first tests with a Formula Indy Lola to verify the possibility of actually taking part in the Indianapolis 500, in 1996. Having positively assessed this possibility, Michele took part in the Indy 500 but finished the race after forty-three laps due to a gearbox failure.

 

At the same time, Alboreto also took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans where, starting from pole position, he was then forced to retire. But the following year, in 1997, Michele took victory at Le Mans, at the wheel of a TWR-Porsche WSC-95 of the Joest Racing team, paired with Johansson and Kristensen. In 1999 the Joest team for which he raced became the Audi Sport official team, fielding the Audi R8r boats on behalf of the German car manufacturer. Alboreto will finish the 1999 Le Mans in fourth place, while the following year, at the wheel of the renewed R8, he will finish in third place.

 

In 2000 the Milanese driver will win the Petit Le Mans and in 2001 he will get his last victory in an motorsport competition at the 12 Hours of Sebring, paired with Capello and Aiello. Then, unfortunately, on April 25, 2001, during a test session at the Lausitzring circuit in view of the classic 24 Hours of Le Mans, Michele lost his life. The driver is facing the straight when his car, due to a puncture in the left rear wheel, leaves the track hitting a fence and capsizing after a frightening flight. Motorsport loses in this way a gentleman, a man with a big heart who, despite his fame, has always remained the shy but determined boy of the suburbs of Milan. For sure, one of the greatest motorsport champions, still loved today.

 

Simone Centonze

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