Gianni Morbidelli is an Italian race car driver who is active almost thirty years. He recorded 67 starts in the Formula One between 1990 and 1997, driving for five different teams, including one race for Scuderia Ferrari. In the post-F1 career, he mostly competed in the touring car championships, winning four titles in the Superstars Series.
Gianni's father owned a motorcycle company
Gianni Morbidelli was born on January 13, 1968, in Pesaro, Italy. His father Giancarlo was the founder of Morbidelli motorcycle company, so the young Gianni had some kind of involvement in the motorsports from the youngest age. After he spent teenage years driving karts, Gianni entered his first car racing competition in 1987, driving in the Italian Formula 3 Championship.
1989 Italian Formula 3 championship winner
In his debut year, he scored one podium and finished 11th in the points. He progressed to 5th place finish in the 1988 F3 championship, winning one of twelve races. Morbidelli made a final step on his way to the top in 1989, winning the Formula 3 championship title with Forti Corse team. He won six of eleven championship races and added one more victory in the non-championship F3 European Cup race.
Formula One debut at 1990 Brazilian Grand Prix
The success in the Formula 3 promoted Morbidelli to the Formula One. He was hired by Scuderia Italia as a replacement for Emanuele Pirro in the opening rounds of the championship. At 1990 United States Grand Prix in Phoenix, Morbidelli failed to qualify in the Cosworth-powered Dallara F190. He debuted in the Formula One at the Brazilian Grand Prix on March 25, scoring the 14th place at Interlagos.
For the rest of the season, Morbidelli concentrated on the International Formula 3000, driving for Forti Corse. In eleven races he scored one win and three podiums, to finish fifth in the standings. During the season, Morbidelli was also a test driver for Scuderia Ferrari.
Gianni joined Minardi in 1990 and stayed in 1991
At the end of the Formula One season, Morbidelli replaced Paolo Barilla in the SCM Minardi Team's car at Japanese and Australian Grand Prix races. He didn't finish any of those two races. At Suzuka, he spun off after 18 laps, in Adelaide, the broken gearbox stopped him after 20 laps.
Except racing in F1 and F3000, Morbidelli participated in four races of the 1990 Italian Touring Car Championship, driving Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo for the CiBiEmme Sport team and winning one race.
In 1991, Morbidelli spent the whole Formula One season driving the Ferrari-powered Minardi M191 for the Minardi Team, alongside Pierluigi Martini. In fifteen races Morbidelli recorded eight retirements. In races which he managed to finish, his best result was 7th place at Mexican Grand Prix.
Racing with Ferrari at 1991 Australian Grand Prix
For the season-closing Australian Grand Prix, he was invited by Scuderia Ferrari to replace Alain Prost in the #27 Ferrari 643, because The Professor and the team parted ways before the end of the season. In the race on the streets of Adelaide, which was shortened because of rain, Morbidelli finished sixth. He earned his first point, in a fact, he got half a point because of shortened race.
One more Formula One season with Minardi followed in 1992. The team again changed the engine supplier, switching from Ferrari to Lamborghini. The third year in a row with the different engine wasn't more successful than previous seasons. Morbidelli's teammate Christian Fittipaldi managed to win one single point while Gianni scored no points. His best result was seventh place at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
A season outside F1 and return in 1994
The lack of sponsorship caused Morbidelli's walkout from the Formula One and return to the Italian Touring Car Championship in 1993. He was driving Alfa Corse's Alfa Romeo 155 TS to two victories and ninth place finish at the end of the season.
In 1994, Morbidelli was back in the cockpit of the Formula One car. He joined Footwork Arrows to drive Footwork FA15 alongside old teammate Christian Fittipaldi. Morbidelli recorded incredible 12 retirements in 16 races. Despite that, it was his most successful season to date, because he scored points at German Grand Prix (5th) and Belgian Grand Prix (6th). With three points on his account, he finished 22nd in the championship.
Maiden Formula One podium at 1995 Australian Grand Prix
In 1995, Morbidelli stayed with Footwork and had the career-best F1 season, although he missed seven of 17 races, being replaced by Max Papis. In the first part of the season, Morbidelli earned one point finishing sixth at the Canadian Grand Prix.
After skipping seven races he returned for the last three races of the season and reached his first and only F1 podium at Australian Grand Prix. Only eight of twenty drivers finished the race, Morbidelli was third behind Damon Hill and Olivier Panis.
Parallel to F1 duties, Morbidelli competed full season in the 1995 Italian Touring Car Championship, driving BMW 318is. He won two of twenty races and finished fifth in the championship. He continued to drive for BMW Italia in the 1996 Italian Touring Car Championship, scoring two podiums in eight races.
Gianni's last F1 race was 1997 Luxembourg Grand Prix
He had no driving duties in 1996 Formula One season but he was back in 1997, joining Red Bull Sauber Petronas in seven races, as a replacement for Nicola Larini. His best result was ninth place in three races, but he scored no points and wasn't classified in the final standings.
He missed two last races of the season, the Japanese Grand Prix and European Grand Prix, because he was injured during a testing session at Magny-Cours. His last F1 race was the 1997 Luxembourg Grand Prix at Nürburgring on September 28.
At the end of the season, it was clear that Morbidelli wouldn't be back in Formula One. He retired from the premium single-seater competition after 67 races in seven seasons, scoring one sole podium.
Unsuccessful BTCC adventure with Volvo
In 1998, Morbidelli continued a career in the British Touring Car Championship, joining Tom Walkinshaw Racing and Volvo to drive Volvo S40. Morbidelli's teammate Rickard Rydell won the BTCC title with Volvo while Morbidelli didn't score any win and podium. His best result was fourth place at Thruxton and he finished 11th in the standings.
After one year without driving duties, Morbidelli joined CiBiEmme Engineering to drive BMW 320i in the European Super Touring Cup. With five wins and ten podiums in 20 races, Morbidelli finished third in the final classification, behind Fabrizio Giovanardi and Peter Kox.
A year later, in the 2001 European Touring Car Championship, Morbidelli continued to race with CiBiEmme BMW and finished fifth in the points. In 2002, the car was the same, but Gianni moved to another team, joining Carly Motors in four round of the ETCC. He didn't score any points.
Diverse program of racing with different cars
In July 2002, Morbidelli traveled to America and participated in the Road America 500-miles race, sharing the Dodge Viper GTS-R with Shane Lewis. The duo didn't finish the race.
In the season 2003, Morbidelli paused from racing and then he joined GPC Squadra Corse in the 2004 FIA GT Championship, driving Ferrari 575 Maranello in six races. In touring car racing, he participated in just one ETCC round with Seat Toledo Cupra.
In 2005, Morbidelli had a diverse program, racing in the FIA GT Championship and Italian GT Championship. He drove GPC Sport's Ferrari 575 Maranello, Reiter's Lamborghini Murcielago and DR Sport's Saleen S7-R.
Two podiums in 2006 WTCC season with Alfa
In 2006, Morbidelli entered the full season of the World Touring Car Championship, driving Alfa Romeo 156 GTA for N.Technology. He reached two podiums in Brazil and Mexico to finish 14th in the championship standings.
In 2007, two new competitions were on Morbidelli's schedule. In the ADAC GT Masters, he was driving Reiter's Lamborghini Gallardo, scoring two wins and finishing fifth at the end of the season. In the Italian Superstars Series, Morbidelli was a dominant driver, scoring six wins with Audi RS4 and winning the title for the first time.
Four Superstars Series titles
He repeated the Superstars success with the same car in 2008. In 2009, he switched to ROAL Motorsport's BMW M3 and has won both Italian and International Superstars Series.After three consecutive titles in the Superstars Series, Morbidelli dropped to sixth place in the international classification at the end of 2010 season. He spent three more seasons in the series, driving Audi RS4 and Audi RS5. In 2013, which was the last season of the International Superstars Series, Morbidelli won his fourth title
Speedcar Series champion in 2009
Morbidelli also entered the Speedcar Series in 2008 and 2009, winning the title in his second season, in a strong competition against some other F1 former drivers, such were Johnny Herbert, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Heinz-Harald Frentzen or Jean Alesi.
Among all other competitions, Morbidelli also competed in the Australian V8 Supercars Championship, taking part in the Gold Coast 600 at Surfers Paradise three years in a row from 2010 to 2012. In all three races, he was driving Triple F Racing's Ford FG Falcon. His co-driver was Dean Fiore.
WTCC victory at Hungaroring in 2014
After Superstars Series was folded at the end of 2013 season, Morbidelli joined Münnich Motorsport in the 2014 World Touring Car Championship, competing the full season with Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1.
He managed to win the second race at Hungaroring, which he started from the second place due to reversed grid. In the rest of the season, his best result was fourth place at Spa-Francorchamps and Shanghai International Circuit. Morbidelli finished ninth in the points.
Three seasons in the TCR International Series
In 2015, Morbidelli entered the new touring car competition TCR International Series. He was driving Honda Civic TCR for WestCoast Racing, being one of the title contenders in the mid-season. He won three races and scored five more podiums, finishing fourth in the points at the end of the season. During 2015, Morbidelli also tried to drive rallycross Audi S3 for Münnich Motorsport in two rounds of the World Rallycross Championship.
In 2016, Morbidelli remained with WestCoast Racing to drive one more season in the TCR International Series with Honda Civic. With one victory and six podiums, he finished sixth in the points. In 2017, WestCoast Racing switched to Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR and Morbidelli was again sixth in the final standings, scoring two wins, both at Ochersleben.