Former Grand Prix driver and friend of Richard’s F1 Gianni Morbidelli is celebrating his 43rd birthday today!
The son of motorcycle manufacturer Giancarlo Morbidelli, Gianni was signed as Ferrari’s test driver at the age of 21 after a hugely successful career in the Italian junior formulae, peaking with the Italian F3 title in 1989.
He continued with the outfit in 1991 when Minardi secured the use of customer Ferrari engines, and acquitted himself well in spite of the car not delivering on its potential promise, and it was enough to see him replace the sacked Alain Prost at Ferrari for the final race of the season. In appalling conditions, he finished sixth in the rain-shortened race, although he was actually running third when the red flags were unfurled!
He remained with Minardi – now with Lamborghini power – for 1992, but it was a tough season and he was dropped at the end of the season due to a lack of sponsorship.
He joined the Italian Touring Car Championship in 1993 and won two races with an Alfa Romeo, before being picked up by the Footwork F1 team for the 1994 season, and spent two years with the outfit, peaking with a podium finish at Adelaide in his final outing for the team.
Out of F1 in 1996, he was called up again in mid-1997 – this time with Sauber – but it was a deeply unhappy time, clashing with team boss Peter Sauber and suffering injuries in separate testing accidents that led to his retirement from F1.
Gianni has since forged a successful career in touring cars, competing in the British, European and World Touring Car Championship before moving into the Italian Superstars Championship, where he won a hat-trick of titles between 2007-9 in a BMW M3.
Gianni hold a special place in the Richard’s F1 annals, being the very first driver interview published on our site, which you can read here.
Click here to view Gianni Morbidelli’s complete F1 results.
[Original images via Gianni’s official website]