PEOPLE: GIANFRANCO PALAZZOLI

Name: Gianfranco Palazzoli
Nationality: Italy

Italian wheel-making magnate Gabriele Rumi once owned his own F1 team, Fondmetal, but after that his involvement with F1 was through operating a superb half-scale windtunnel at Casumaro, Italy, through his Fondmetal Technologies company. Rumi would have loved to attend every Grand Prix, but his business kept him occupied and so he would send along the silver-haired Gianfranco Palazzoli to look after his F1 interests.

From Milan, Palazzoli has vast racing experience, dating back to the 1950s when he raced off-road motorbikes. In 1967 he switched to cars and, for the next 10 years - racing under the pseudonym "Pal Joey" - he won over 100 races and several Italian titles. He also became a member of the country's national sporting authority and this administrative experience led ex-Ferrari racer Arturo Merzario to ask Palazzoli to help establish the Merzario team. This was never properly funded and turned up at only a few races in 1978 and 1979 before going out of business.

Palazzoli moved on to Osella Squadra Corse, which had been built up in the early 1970s by Enzo Osella from the remnants of Carlo Abarth's race-tuning business. Initially Palazzoli managed Osella's BMW Procar team but in 1980 became team manager of the new Osella F1 operation.

In the years that followed Palazzoli was sporting manager for Benetton when the company sponsored Tyrrell (1983), Alfa Romeo (1984) and Toleman (1985) (which later became the Benetton F1 team) and in 1987 he ran the Alfa Romeo World Touring Car Championship team.

In 1989 Palazzoli returned to Osella after it was taken over by Fondmetal and oversaw a huge restructuring as Gabriele Rumi tried to make it a serious F1 competitor. Ironically, the team was on the verge of success when Rumi's money ran out in mid-1992 and he was forced him to close down his beloved team.

A multitalented individual, Palazzoli is a multiple Italian table-tennis champion and still represents Italy in its veterans team and has also worked as a F1 commentator for RAI Italian television!

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