Elio de Angelis

De Angelis was born into a wealthy and prominent Roman family. His father Giulio ran a successful construction company and raced powerboats and Elio was a fine sportsman, a good tennis player and a fine skier.

He started karting when he was 14, competing against the likes of young Eddie Cheever in a 100cc kart. He quickly rose to international prominence, finishing second in the World Championship in 1975 to Francois Goldstein and winning the European title in 1976.

At the age of 19 he jumped straight into Formula 3 and, at the wheel of a Chevron, won his third ever car race at the Mugello circuit near Florence. A fortnight later he finished second to Didier Pironi in the Monaco Formula 3 Grand Prix, a startling performance. He later switched to a Ralt and added further wins that year at Monza and Misano. As a result he won the Italian F3 title at his first attempt. That year he also took part in some Formula 2 races with Giancarlo Minardi's Scuderia Everest and led his first race.

In 1978 he was offered the chance to race in F2 with a Ferrari-engined Scuderia Everest Chevron B42. Results were disappointing and De Angelis decided in the midseason to drop back to F3 and try to win Monaco again. He achieved this and that led to a chance to test for the Shadow F1 team in September that year.

There was a deal in place with Tyrrell but in the end de Angelis ended up at Shadow with his father paying the bills. He was 20 and had the reputation of being a pay-driver. By the end of the season it was a different story with Team Lotus keen to sign a deal with the youngster. De Angelis walked out his Shadow contract and joined Mario Andretti at Team Lotus. He was promptly sued by Shadow but it was the right thing to do and in his second race with Lotus, he finished second in Brazil. He did not score again until the Austrian GP in the summer but was then fourth at Monza and Watkins Glen.

He won his first race, a real nail-biter, at Austria in 1982, finishing just ahead of Keke Rosberg's Williams and in 1985 picked up another victory after Alain Prost was disqualified at Imola. By now however Ayrton Senna had joined Lotus and it was clear that if De Angelis wanted to stay he would have to do so as the number two.

In 1986 he moved to Brabham and was joined by Riccardo Patrese. The team ran the unusual BMW-engined BT55, a car so flat that it was known as "the skateboard" and it was while testing this in May at Paul Ricard that he was killed when a rear wing failed.