IvanCapelli, born on 24th of May, 1963 in Milan is a former Formula 1 who also raced in the various sportscars series.
Late start of the career wasn't an obstacle
Capelli started his career relatively late, at the age of 15, when he began to drive karts. After four years, he moved to Italian Formula 3 Championship, driving for March team. He won the title at the first attempt after dominant displays and nine race wins.
Ivan Capelli in his old Leyton House March
After a successful season, in 1984, Ivan moved to European Formula 3 Championship, driving for Coloni team. The winning streak continued and Italian again became the champion, after controversy with one of the team’s airboxes that were illegal.
Capelli won European Formula 3000 title in 1986
The next challenge was European Formula 3000 Championship in which he spent two years, driving for Genoa Racing. The start of the 1985 season was pretty bad after Capelli retired from four races, but at a later stage he won the race at Osterreichring and finished 3rd at Donington which was a kind of announcement of what is going to happen in the next season.
Ivan Capelli, 1986
In 1986, Italian driver won the title at European Formula 3000 Championship, even after he retired from 4 out of 11 races. However, Capelli won two races, at Vallelunga and again at Osterreichring, had other four podium finishes, which was enough to clinch the title in front of some well-known names like Emanuele Pirro, Pierluigi Martini, Philippe Alliot, Satoru Nakajima and Gabriele Tarquini.
Unexpected Formula 1 debut with Tyrrell
During two years he spent in Formula 3000, Ivan also had an opportunity to taste racing in Formula 1. He debuted at the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, replacing Stefan Bellof in one of the Tyrrells, but retired from the race. In the season-closing race in Australia, Capelli surprised many because he finished in 4th place. In 1986, he started in two F1 races driving for AGS team but failed to finish on both occasions.
Ivan Capelli was considered as one of the brightest talents
In 1987, Capelli drove full Formula 1 season as a member of Leyton House March team. The small team couldn’t afford a highly competitive car but Ivan managed to pick a point at Monaco Grand Prix by finishing 6th. The season of 1988 was much better. Adrian Newey, who later made his name in Formula 1, designed a new car which proved to be a very good one. Capelli finished in points in a couple of races but also had two podiums. In Belgium, he was 3rd while in Portugal he finished 2nd, losing to Alain Prost.
1987 British Grand Prix, Capelli in March 871
He could have fine F1 career
After a pretty good season, many considered him as the future star and they were predicting that it is only matter of time when Capelli will become a driver of some of the leading teams. Unfortunately, he stayed with March team for another three years and only occasionally managed to remind peole what he was capable of.
Ivan Capelli was very popular among the Formula 1 drivers
The season of 1989 was disastrous because Capelli was able to finish only two races. The following year was slightly better but still far from good, even though he finished 2nd at the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard, again losing to Prost. Finally, in 1991, Ivan Capelli again struggled a lot, mainly because of the unreliable car, and again finished in points only once, finishing 6th at Hungaroring.
Move to Ferrari was a turning point
Probably a bit surprisingly, Capelli signed with Ferrari in 1992 and the future looked bright. Scuderia had a new car, the expectations were high but it turned out that expectations were unrealistic. Capelli was so disappointed with the relations within the team and the car, that he earned points only twice and left the team two races before the end of the year.It was a great pity because Ivan hoped that he will be able to show that he was driving for the most popular team.
Ivan Capelli, Ferrari, 1992 Italian Grand Prix
His enthusiasm and motivation decreased a lot after being disappointed with Ferrari. However, he signed with Jordan for 1993 campaign but cooperation did not last for long. After failing to qualify for the second race of the season in Brazil, Capelli decided to leave the team and to end his Formula 1 career.
Last try and quick retirement from Formula 1
The disappointment was huge. Capelli knew he was able to achieve bigger things but couldn’t meet the expectations, not only by his fault. Jordan tried to persuade Italian to change his mind, but it was too late. Ivan felt like he wasn’t able to meet the demands and decided to give his full attention to other racing categories.
Ivan Capelli, 2007
Sports cars racing wasn’t so challenging to Capelli as he has competed in European Touring Cars Championship in the mid-1980s, driving Schnitzer Motorsport’s BMW. After retiring from Formula 1, Capelli competed with a variable success in the racing series like Nissan Primera, German Supertouring, and Trofeo Maserati before becoming the Formula 1 commentator on Italian national television.