On 23rd December 1956, Michele Alboreto was born in Milan. In the early stages of his career, the Italian driver distinguished himself in open-wheeler series, winning the 1981 European Formula 3 Championship as well as in endurance races, playing his part in Lancia winning the constructors’ championship in 1980 and ’81. That same year, Michele made his Formula 1 debut with Tyrell, where he stayed until the end of 1982. In 1984, he made the move to Ferrari, where he stayed until the end of 1988. With the Maranello marque, Alboreto took part in 80 Grands Prix, winning three and starting twice from pole position. In 1985, he came second in the Drivers’ championship, beaten by Alain Prost. His victory at Hockenheim that year is still the last win for an Italian driver at the wheel of a Ferrari. After leaving the Scuderia, Alboreto continued racing in the blue riband series up to 1994, although he failed to get any notable results.
“Over the next few years, he returned to racing sports cars, first with Porsche, with whom he won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1997 and then, with Audi, with whom he won the 2000 Petit Le Mans and the 2001 Sepang 12 Hours. It was to be his final victory: Michele died on 25 April that year at the Lausitzring, at an Audi test session in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“He’s a youngster who drives very well, making few mistakes,” Enzo Ferrari wrote of him in his book ‘Piloti, che gente…” “He is quick and has a nice style: gifts that remind me of Wolfgang von Trips, whom Alboreto also resembles with his educated and serious manner. I have maintained that he is one of the six best drivers in Formula 1 and with a competitive car, he will definitely be in with a chance of becoming champion.”
The “It happened today” column is taking a break, before starting up again in the new year: in the meantime, happy holidays to all our readers!