Alessandro 'Alex' Caffi is a racing driver from Italy whose peak of the career was racing in Formula 1. He recorded 77 participations (56 starts) in the Formula One World Championship between 1986 and 1992.
Later in a career, he gained some success in sports car racing, becoming the Italian GT2 Champion in 2006. He participated three times at 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing best in the sixth place.
His father was a racing amateur and Alex was involved in the world of motorsport since he was a child. He started with motocross and later moved to lower tiers of national formula racing. In 1984, Caffi debuted in Italian Formula 3 and for three years he was among the frontrunners. In 1984 and 1985 he finished as a runner-up while in 1986 he was 3rd.
That year was full of duties for the young driver. In 1986, Caffi served military service in Rome but he also debuted in Formula 1. He drove the clumsy Osella-Alfa Romeo car, replacing Allen Berg, in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and he finished last, six laps behind the winner Nelson Piquet.
Caffi stayed with Osella in 1987. His first full-time season in the most popular championship was really hard. The car was unreliable and uncompetitive but Alex was full of enthusiasm and optimism.
However, that wasn’t enough for any significant result. He retired from 13 out of 16 races, twice failed to qualify and recorded only one classification, at Imola, where he was 12th.
In the next season, he signed with the new team Scuderia Italia. Even though he didn't score a single point with the Dallara-Cosworth car, the season of 1988 was a step forward. Caffi managed to finish 7 out of 16 races, with the 7th place in the Grand Prix of Portugal as the best result.
Alex stayed with Scuderia Italia in 1989 and that season was the best in his F1 career. However, during the season he had many ups and downs but for the first time, he was able to score points. In Monaco Grand Prix, Caffi impressed in pre-qualifying and later he finished 4th, behind Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, and Stefano Modena.
In the action-packed Canadian Grand Prix, Caffi again scored points after finishing 6th in the race won by Williams’ driver Thierry Boutsen. Unfortunately, the second half of the season wasn’t as good. Caffi had many retirements but was still considered the hot prospect. With four points on his account, he took the 19th place in the Drivers’ Championship.
In 1990, Caffi signed with the ambitious Footwork-Arrows team and that was a significant step forward. However, the results were relatively poor. He also missed the season-opening race in the US due to an injury.
Later in the season he also missed the Spanish Grand Prix after being injured in the crash at Estoril. Alex scored only once, finishing 5th in the Monaco Grand Prix. Over the year he had numerous Top 10 finishes but at the end of the season, he had just two points, which was enough for the 16th position overall.
The beginning of 1991 was horrible. Caffi failed to pre-qualify for the opening three races. During the free practice in Monaco, Italian driver survived a huge crash. His car hit the barriers and was broke in three parts. Despite suffering no serious injuries as a result of the crash, Caffi was injured shortly after in a road accident.
Caffi was replaced by Stefan Johansson in the next four rounds and after recovery, he was under constant pressure. The team wanted to keep Johansson, especially because Alex’s results were below the expectations. He failed to prequalify in six consecutive races but in the last two races, Caffi was able to finish 10th in Japan and 15th in Australia.
After Footwork released Caffi at the end of 1991, Italian driver signed with the newly-formed Andrea Moda team. However, he never raced with the new team because it struggled financially and organizationally. Alex publicly criticized the team and after the second round of the season, he was fired and replaced with Roberto Moreno.
This meant that Caffi’s spell in Formula 1 was over at the age of 28. However, he still had plenty to offer and continued to race all over the world in various categories.
After an inglorious end of the F1 career, Caffi raced sports and touring cars, mainly in the United States, Spain, France, and Italy. He also raced in the FIA Sportscar Championship and American Le Mans Series. The Italian driver also has three starts at Le Mans 24 Hours in his books, with the 6th place in 1999 with Courage Competition as the best result.
His greatest success in GT racing was a championship title in the Italian GT Championship in 2006, when he won GT2 class in Scuderia Villorba Corse's Ferrari F430 GTC, sharing a car with Denny Zardo.
Caffi was occasionally active in rallying during his career, participating in selected national events and at Monza Rally Show. In 2011, he made a debut at Rallye Monte Carlo, a part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, finishing 11th in a Škoda Fabia S2000.
In 2012, he also entered Dakar Rally, driving a Fiat Panda 4x4. Next year, he returned to Dakar Rally in a truck category and also spent a season in the Brazilian Formula Truck series. After that, Alex sporadically appeared in the Historic Grand Prix races and had a considerable success. At the same time, Caffi works as an instructor at the Subaru Italia official safety driving and racing school.