Alessandro 'Alex' Caffi, born in Brescia on 18th of March, 1964, is retired racing driver from Italy. The peak of his career was racing in Formula 1.
Early career and unexpected Formula 1 debut
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.
Piercarlo Ghinzani and Caffi, 1986 Italian Grand Prix
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.
Tough season with Osella
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.
Caffi driving an Osella, 1987 British Grand Prix
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 Caffi enjoyed the season of 1989
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.
Caffi as a driver of Scuderia Italia team, 1989 Japanese Grand Prix
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.
Move to Footwork-Arrows and huge crash in Monaco
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.
Caffi drives a Footwork formula, 1991 US Grand Prix
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.
The end of F1 career
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.
Team owner Andrea Sassetti with driver Caffi and the Coloni based Andrea Moda-Judd V10
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.
Sports and touring cars racing
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 in Le Mans 24 Hours in his books, with the 6th place in 1999 with Courage Competition as the best result.
In 2011, Caffi debuted in rally racing, competing in Rallye Monte Carlo with Skoda Fabia S2000 while in 2013 he also entered Dakar Rally. 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.