Top ten… Italian Ferrari drivers

Giancarlo Fisichella is the latest Italian to drive for Ferrari

Giancarlo Fisichella is the latest Italian to drive for Ferrari

We’ve not had a good old-fashioned top ten in a little while and I thought the occasion of Giancarlo Fisichella achieving his life’s ambition by joining Ferrari for the Italian Grand Prix was worth marking.

Here are ten of the best Italian drivers to race for the prancing horse. Will we be counting Fisichella among them soon?

Alberto Ascari

Starts for Ferrari: 27
Wins for Ferrari: 13

The only Italian driver to win a world championship – two, in fact – while driving for Ferrari. But he didn’t do it at the wheel of an F1 car, for in 1952 and 1953 the world championship was run to Formula Two regulations.

Alberto Ascari dominated in his Ferrari 500, winning every race he entered in 1952 except the Indianapolis 500. His winning streak lasted into 1953, and his nine consecutive victories remains a record.

Juan Manuel Fangio considered him one of his toughest rivals, but in 1955 Ascari died at Monza while testing a Ferrari sports car. The corner where he perished now bears his name, but is differently configured.

Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina

Starts for Ferrari: 20
Wins for Ferrari: 1

Giuseppe Farina won the first ever world championship for Alfa Romeo in 1950, and was regarded by his peers as an especially ruthless driver.

Joining Ferrari in 1952, he was runner-up to Ascari in the championship with four second places and no wins a clear sign of his team mate’s supremacy. He won just once for Ferrari, at the Nurburgring in 1953.

Farina died in a road accident in 1966 while he was on his way to the French round of the world championship. At the time he was working on the set of John Frankenheimer’s film “Grand Prix” as a stunt driver.

Piero Taruffi

Starts for Ferrari: 13
Wins for Ferrari: 1

A former motor cycle racer who switched to four wheels in 1930, Taruffi joined Ferrari in 1949, one year before the world championship began.

He was third overall in 1952 behind team mates Ascari and Farina and scored his only world championship win at the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten. Taruffi later drove a Ferrari 315 Sport to victory in the final competitive Mille Miglia, in 1957.

Luigi Villoresi

Starts for Ferrari: 20
Wins for Ferrari: 0

Villoresi had some of his greatest successes before World War Two driving for Maserati. That included wins on the Targa Florio sports car race in 1939 and 1940 – but the latter was marred by the death of his brother Emilio.

He returned to racing after the war – during which he’d been captured and held prisoner – but was badly injured at Bremgarten in 1948. Two years later he was in Ferrari’s Grand Prix team, but his only wins for them came in non-championship events.

Luigi Musso

Starts for Ferrari: 15
Wins for Ferrari: 1

Musso took Villoresi’s place at Ferrari in 1956. He was a lap behind the leaders in his first race at Argentina, when Ferrari team mate and local hero Fangio stopped with fuel pump failure. Musso was ushered into the pits and Fangio took over his car, driving it to a shared victory.

It was Musso’s only win for Ferrari. The following year he refused to hand his car over to Fangio in similar circumstances at Monza, and later retired after a tyre failure.

Musso was a ‘coming man’ during the reign of Fangio, picking up a string of second places in 1957 and 1958. But he was killed during the French Grand Prix at Reims when he hit a ditch at 150mph and his car flipped over.

Giancarlo Baghetti

Starts for Ferrari: 8
Wins for Ferrari: 1

Achieved the remarkable and never-equalled feat of winning his first Grand Prix, but seldom did as much as score a point again after that.

Read about how Giancarlo Baghetti won in his first Grand Prix start.

Ignazio Giunti

Starts for Ferrari: 4
Wins for Ferrari: 0

Giunti showed a lot of promise with wins in the Sebring 12 Hours and Targa Florio sports car races. He made his Grand Prix debut at the mighty Spa-Francorchamps circuits – back when it was a tree-lined, flat-out 14km monster – and scored an impressive fourth place.

Giunti stayed with Ferrari for 1971 but during the Buenos Aires 1,000km that year he hit the stationary car of Jean-Pierre Beltoise. Giunti’s car exploded and he died from his injuries.

Lorenzo Bandini

Starts for Ferrari: 35
Wins for Ferrari: 1

Another promising Italian driver who met a tragic end at a young age.

Bandini was championed by Ferrari team manager Eugenio Dragoni, which was met with hostility by team mate John Surtees, who had won the championship for Ferrari in 1964. Surtees left the team, to Bandini’s regret, as the pair got on well.

Bandini had won his first Grand Prix at Zeltweg in Austria in 1964. But by 1967 he found himself thrust into the role of team leader and the pressure told.

While chasing Denny Hulme around Monte-Carlo Bandini crashed at the chicane and suffered terrible burns, to which he succumbed three days later.

Ludovico Scarfiotti

Starts for Ferrari: 6
Wins for Ferrari: 1

Scarfiotti was appointed by Dragoni in a plainly political move – he was the nephew of Gianni Agnelli, then heir to the Fiat empire which took over Ferrari in 1969.

Nonetheless, Scarfiotti remains the last Italian driver to win his home Grand Prix in a Ferrari. His victory at Monza in 1966 was one of only two starts for the team that year. He left Ferrari in 1967 and was killed in a crash at a hilldlimb the following year.

Michele Alboreto

Starts for Ferrari: 80
Wins for Ferrari: 3

The driver who came closest to repeating Ascari’s feat was Michele Alboreto. He joined Ferrari from Tyrrell in 1984, having already won twice for the British team.

Alboreto became a winner for Ferrari on his third appearance for the team at Zolder in Belgium. In 1985 he won twice and led the world championship at the halfway point of the season. But Ferrari failed to heed his warnings about reliability and Alain Prost snatched the title as Alboreto failed to finish the last five races.

He spent three more years with the team but never won again. He left F1 after 1994, subsequently raced in Champ Cars and later switched to sports car racing. Tragically, Alboreto was killed testing an Audi at the Laustizring in Germany in 2001.

And not forgetting…

It would be wrong to leave Italian-born Mario Andretti out of this feature. He was born in Italy, but his family moved to America and took on US citizenship.

Andretti had a stellar racing career with victories in major races and championships across a range of disciplines including, of course, the Formula 1 world championship, which he won for Lotus in 1978.

Andretti won his first Grand Prix for Ferrari in South Africa in 1971, and started a total of 12 races for the team. That included two starts in the final races of 1982, substituting for the injured Didier Pironi. This was also the last time, prior to this year, that Ferrari used four different drivers in a single season.

Who was the best Italian Ferrari driver? What can Fischella achieve for the team in the final five races of 2009? Have your say in the comments. Plus, add your suggestions for future top tens…

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52 comments on Top ten… Italian Ferrari drivers

  1. But…won’t it be banned, next year also, to test cars during the season?
    So…what’s worth to be a text driver?

    • Bigbadderboom said on 4th September 2009, 15:55

      Reserve driver, is probably more as they should be known now. But we don’t know what Ferrari have in mind for next season, will Massa be able to continue, he may still experience some adverse reactions and have to miss some races, and if Kimi goes and they chance Schuey, then there may be some chance for Fisi to get a drive. But if your going to be relegated to “Reserve” driver, there is no better place to be really is there?

  2. There are quite a few, but there is only one.
    Gilles Villeneuve
    nuff said

    • oops!….ITALIAN Ferrari drivers.
      Sorry, any Ferrari list that doesn’t mention Gilles gets me going. I’ll read, and retain, more closely next time!

  3. My favourite ever driver was Alessandro Zanardi. I treat him equal with Ayrton Senna.
    Things he was doing in ChampCar were amazing.
    His Laguna Seca pass is legendary.

    • Antifia said on 4th September 2009, 16:33

      “Things he was doing in ChampCar were amazing.”
      Not so much so in his two stints in F1 tough.

      • Yes. Minardi, Lotus, Williams-Mecachrome… no wonder. F1 is irrelevant.

        • Antifia said on 4th September 2009, 19:59

          He managed to be beaten by his team-mates at Minardi, Lotus and Williams. Nobody expected him to win GPs in those cars, but if he was any good he should have beaten the other guy in the same car.
          F1 is irrelevant? ChampCar is the American version for the sport in which they did not manage to be competitive (like American Football is a phony version of Rugby and Basebal a fat-man’s version of Criket). It is just rubish. F1 man that are too old or too slow go to ChampCars and rule. ChampCar champions come to formula 1 and embarrass themselves every single time.

  4. Your top 10 only covers Ferrari’s post war…. if you include Scuderia Ferarri pre war when running Alfa’s then you can add Tazio Nuvolari, one of the greatest racing drivers of all time…. not sure about how many wins he had with Ferrari …. but it was a lot !

    • But Keith wrote only about F1 drivers.
      ‘Cause we could also name Ferrari drivers from all other series – sportscar racing, Le Mans etc. if there have been some significant Italian names.

      Btw. According to the data on Wiki, Nuvolari has never won a race in a Ferrari car. Although he has won a race (or races) for Ferrari in an Alfa Romeo car, which Scuderia Ferrari were running in those times.

      • But they were grand prix’s, and the cars did carry the prancing horse….. and keith just said “ten of the best Italian driver to race for the prancing horse”….. A long time ago but Taz was a great driver by any standards…..

  5. Marcvs said on 4th September 2009, 18:20

    Don’t forget Luca Badoer…

  6. Gianecchini said on 7th September 2009, 9:24

    I think Fisichella is the happiest guy in F1 the rest of the season :D Good Luck to him !

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