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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Andrea de Cesaris

Being a fan of Jordan GP since their inception I began to take a serious F1 interest in Andrea as he lined up alongside Gachot for the team’s maiden season.  Of all the races I saw him in obviously the one that stands out is the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix.

de Cesaris in Belgium, 1991
Jordan had been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the lead up to the race as Gachot was missing the race as he had ended up in gaol in England for spraying a London taxi driver with tear gas in a road rage incident.
Then Andrea had to quietly go about his business while the press and paddock swarmed around Gachot’s replacement, a young rookie called Michael Schumacher, who, in his first qualifying placed his 7up Jordan 191 in seventh on the grid, 4 places above his team-mate.
For Schumi the rest was history, as was the race when he burnt out the clutch in the opening corners but de Cesaris really showed off his driving style and ability and, as I sat and watched, all I could think was that this race would be the first of many Jordan victories - and in their maiden season!
After the first set of pitstops Andrea was in fifth behind the luminaries of the sport - Mansell, Alesi, Senna & Piquet.
Then Mansell stopped on the track and Senna suddenly found himself unable to select a gear and began to slow.  Alesi was leading with Senna back in the fray in second with a damaged gearbox.  Andrea was in a tight scrap with Piquet and Patrese for third.
Then Alesi’s engine gave out on lap 30 and it was Senna from Piquet from Andrea, who quickly took advantage of Piquet by outbraking him into Les Combes.
Patrese got past Piquet and set off after Andrea but all the time Andrea was closing in on Senna’s troubled McLaren and, if his engine hadn’t been overheating there is no doubt in my mind that he would have got past to take the chequered flag.
Unfortunately it was not to be; on lap 41 the engine blew and his race was finished.  It was, unfortunately, the only time I saw him mount a serious challenge for the top spot on the podium though he did score important points for both Jordan and Ken’s Tyrell team in the four years he remained in F1 helping Jordan to 5th in the constructor’s in ‘91, Tyrell to 8th in ‘92 and Jordan (in his two races for them) to 5th again in ‘94.
So saddened to read that he died in a motorcycle accident on Rome’s Ring Road. Thank you for the memories Andrea.