Former F1 driver Giuseppe ‘Beppe’ Gabbiani is celebrating his 54th birthday today.
Gabbiani participated in 17 World Championship Grands Prix, failing to qualify for all but three of them, and failing to finish each of the races he started.
Gabbiani spent seven years in karting before jumping to Formula 3 in 1977, taking his first major event win at Paul Ricard. This success propelled him to Formula 2, and by the end of 1978, he made his F1 debut with Surtees in place of the injured Vittorio Brambilla, although he failed to qualify for either race.
A return to Formula 2 in 1979 saw his fortunes dip somewhat with a series of crashes, and he failed to start a non-championship F1 race at Imola after shunting his Shadow in the warm-up. But the second-half of the season saw an improvement in his results, with podiums at Mugello and Misano.
Without a drive at the start of 1982, he rejoined the F2 circus mid-season but didn’t achieve anything particularly noteworthy, but he worked hard to raise enough funding to join the Osella F1 outfit for the 1981 season.
But the car was not a competitive prospect and Gabbiani was too out of his depth, only making the grid three times in between racking up a series of DNQs.
He dropped out of F1 and returned again to Formula 2 in 1982, where he faced a tough challenge from team-mate Stefan Bellof. But 1983 proved better, storming to an early lead with four wins in the first five rounds, only to falter as the Ralt pairing of Jonathan Palmer and Mike Thackwell overtook him.
His front-line motorsport career faltered after that, but he continued with occasional F2 and F3000 outings before moving into the Italian touring cars and endurance racing scene.