Career Summary:

Bruno Giacomelli

  • September 10, 1952
  • 65
  • Italy
  • Not Active
  • 167
  • McLaren,Alfa Romeo,Toleman,Life
  • 25
  • 32
  • 22
  • 13
  • 14.97%
  • 19.16%

Bruno Giacomelli is a former Italian racing driver who recorded 69 starts in Formula One between 1977 and 1983, driving for three different teams - McLaren, Alfa Romeo and Toleman. He scored one F1 podium, finishing third at the 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas.

Giacomelli's greatest achievements in a career are British BRDC Formula 3 title in 1976 and European Formula 2 Championship title in 1978. After leaving F1, Giacomelli competed in sports car races, including three participations at 24h Le Mans, but without notable results.

Bruno Giacomelli

Bruno Giacomelli

Two championship titles early in a career

Giacomelli started his career in the 1974 Formula Italia, scoring one victory in his debut season and then taking the championship title in 1975, with five wins on his account.

The next step was the Formula 3. Giacomelli participated in two 1976 British Formula 3 championships, driving a March-Toyota both in the BRDC and BARC championships. He won two times in the BRDC championship and dominantly took the winner's trophy ahead of Rupert Keegan. In the BARC championship, he won five times but lost a title to Keegan by three points. In 1976, Giacomelli also triumphed at non-championship Monaco Grand Prix F3 race.

Three Formula 2 wins in 1977

In 1977, still driving for March, Giacomelli progressed to the European Formula Two Championship. He started a season in a Hart-powered March 772, switching to BMW-powered car from the fifth round at Vallelunga, where he scored his maiden F2 victory.

Until the end of the season, Giacomelli won two more times (Mugello, Donington Park) to finish fourth in the championship standings, tied in the points with Riccardo Patrese. Rene Arnoux was the champion.

Formula One debut with McLaren at Monza

In September 1977, Giacomelli was invited to drive for Marlboro Team McLaren at Formula One Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Driving the #14 McLaren M23, he was 15th in the qualifying. In the race, he retired after 38 laps due to a broken engine.

During 1978, Giacomelli participated in five F1 Grand Prix races with McLaren, driving the #33 McLaren M26. The first race was the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, where he finished 8th. He then retired in France and Netherlands, finished 7th at Brands Hatch and 14th at Monza.

Formula Two champion in 1978

Giacomelli stayed with March Racing in the 1978 European Formula 2 Championship and dominantly won the title, scoring eight wins in twelve races, adding two more podiums and failing to finish just two races.

March Racing was a dominant team that year, so Giacomelli's teammate Marc Surer finished in the second place. They were driving BMW-powered cars.

Joining Alfa Romeo F1 team in 1979

With Formula 2 trophy in his hands, Giacomelli joined Autodelta/Alfa Romeo in their return to Formula 1 in 1979. That season, the team participated in selected races with Bruno Giacomelli and Vittorio Brambilla as drivers. Giacomelli started four times, retiring in three races and finishing 17th at Belgian Grand Prix.

During the 1979 season, Giacomelli participated in eight races of the Procar BMW M1 series, together with other F1 drivers. He scored one podium.

Bruno Giacomelli at 1980 United States Grand Prix East

Bruno Giacomelli at 1980 United States Grand Prix East

1980 - first full season in Formula One

In 1980, Giacomelli finally participated full season in Formula 1, driving the #23 Alfa Romeo 179 for Marlboro Team Alfa Romeo.  He scored maiden F1 points in the season-opening Argentine Grand Prix, finishing in the fifth place. One more finish in the points followed at German Grand Prix, with Giacomelli in the fifth place.

In the last race of the season, the United States Grand Prix East at Watkins Glen, Giacomelli took pole position, putting an Alfa Romeo on pole for the first time since 1951. Giacomelli led the race until lap 32 when he retired due to electric failure.

Maiden F1 podium at Caesar Palace Grand Prix

In 1981, Giacomelli's Alfa Romeo was more reliable than the year before, but he was out of points until the penultimate race in Canada. He finished fourth at the street circuit in Montreal.

A few weeks later, Giacomelli was successful on another street circuit, in Las Vegas. He finished third at Caesar Palace Grand Prix, behind Alan Jones and Alain Prost, to climb for the first time to an F1 podium. It remained his only F1 podium in a career. At the end of the season, he was 15th in the final standings.

Bruno Giacomelli's #23 Alfa Romeo 179, 1981

Bruno Giacomelli's #23 Alfa Romeo 179

1982 – the last season with Alfa Romeo

In 1982, his fourth season with Alfa Romeo, Giacomelli stayed in the #23 car, with Andrea de Cesaris as a teammate in the #22 car. A new car came from the second round,  but results were disappointing, with seven consecutive retirements for Giacomelli.

He finally grabbed some points at German Grand Prix in August, finishing fifth at Hockenheimring. With two points on his account, Giacomelli finished 22nd in the final standings.

1983 Formula 1 season with Toleman

For the 1983 Formula One season, Alfa Romeo recruited Mauro Baldi to partner Andrea de Cesaris so Giacomelli had to find a new team. He joined Candy Toleman Motorsport to drive the #36 Toleman-Hart. His teammate in the #35 car was Derek Warwick.

Giacomelli was outperformed by his teammate Warwick. Giacomelli scored his final F1 point at the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch to finish 19th in the final standings, Warwick scored points four times to finish 14th in the final classification.

Two seasons in North America

Giacomelli left Formula 1 in 1984, switching his focus to North America. He joined Theodore Racing in the CART PPG Indy Car World Series, debuting in the season-opening race at Long Beach. He didn't finish the race. After that, he failed to qualify for Phoenix International Raceway's race and for Indianapolis 500. Later in the season, he joined Patrick Racing in Las Vegas, finishing 8th and collecting his maiden points.

He stayed with Patrick Racing in 1985, participating in nine races, eight times on road courses/street circuits and just once at the oval circuit. His best result was fifth place at Meadowlands Sports Complex. He finished 19th in the final standings.

Switching to sports car racing from 1986

While racing in North America, Giacomelli debuted in the World Sportscar Championship in April 1985, driving a Porsche 956 for Porsche Kremer Racing at 1000 km of Monza. Next year, he left open-wheel racing to increase his sports car racing commitments, participating in four WSC races.

He drove Lancia LC2 for Sponsor Gest Team in two races and Porsche 962C for Kremer Racing in two races. His best result was 4th place at Fuji 1000 km, where he was sharing a Porsche with Volker Weidler.

1987 WTCC campaign with Maserati

In 1987, Giacomelli participated in two WSC races, driving a Porsche 956B for Richard Lloyd Racing at Monza and Lancia LC2 for Mussato Action Car at Norisring. He retired in both races.

His main competition in 1987 was the World Touring Car Championship, in which he was driving Maserati Biturbo for Pro Team Italia Imberti in five races. His best result was fourth place in the season-opening race at Monza.

Giacomelli debuted at Le Mans in 1988

In 1988, Bruno Giacomelli finally debuted at 24 hours of Le Mans, driving a Porsche 962 CK6 for Team Kenwood Kremer Racing. His co-drivers were Kunimitsu Takahashi and Hideki Okada. They finished the race in the ninth place.

Giacomelli also participated in three WSC races for Kremer Racing, finishing best in the sixth place at Monza. His partner in that race was Volker Weidler. Together with Kris Nissen, he won the Fuji 1000 km race, the part of the Japanese Sports Prototype Championship.

Two more Le Mans starts with Porsche

In 1989, Giacomelli was combining Porsche and Lancia again in the World Sportscar Championship but without notable results. At Le Mans, he was a member of the Kenwood Kremer Racing again, not finishing the race.

In 1990, Giacomelli joined Spice Engineering to participate in three WSC races, finishing third at Silverstone as the best result. At Le Mans, he was driving Porsche 962 again. This time, he drove for Richard Lloyd Racing, sharing a car with John Watson and Allen Berg. They finished 11th overall.

Unsuccessful Formula One return

The main story in 1990 was Giacomelli's return to Formula One. He joined Italian Life team, as a replacement for Gary Brabham, who left the team after two races. Giacomelli unsuccessfully tried to qualify the #39 car, powered by Life W12 engine, in ten races. The team switched to Judd V8 engine at the end of the season but Giacomelli had no success again in two races.

The team folded before the final two races. Giacomelli ended his Formula One career with twelve consecutive qualifying fails. The end of his entire career followed a few years later, after three attempts with Freisinger Racing's Porsche in the 1995 Global GT Championship.

Photos: Richard Kelley,