Today we wish former Grand Prix driver Alessandro Nannini a happy 53rd birthday!
‘Sandro’, as he was affectionately known, was born in the Italian town of Siena and into a very talented family: his father was a widely respected and talented baker, and his sister would go on to become one of the country’s highest-profile rock singers. For Sandro, it was all about motorsport.
His first forays into motorsport came in the 1970s in rallying, before he switched to open-wheeled competition and drove for Minardi in the 1982 Formula 2 championship.
A further year with the Faenza team followed before he was appointed at Benetton in 1988, as team-mate to Thierry Boutsen.
It was here that the chain-smoking racer started to blossom, picking up regular points finishes and was a solid contender in 1989, peaking with victory at that year’s infamous victory at the Japanese Grand Prix after Ayrton Senna was disqualified for an illegal push-start by the marshals.
But tragedy would strike just a few weeks later, when he was involved in a helicopter crash that severed his right hand at the forearm. Incredibly, the limb was reattached with microsurgery, but his F1 days were over.
Having fully recovered, Sandro was a regular competitor with Alfa Romeo between 1992-6 in the Italian Touring car Championship, winning races aplenty and proving that he had lost none of his touch and finesse behind the wheel.
Cruelly, it was a blossoming F1 career cut short.
[Images via F1 Nostalgia, Flickr, LAT, Motorsport.com, MMM Sport, Sutton Images, The Cahier Archive]