- March 09, 1955
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Teodorico 'Teo' Fabi is a former Italian racing driver who participated in 71 Formula One races between 1982 and 1987. However, he was more successful in sportscar racing with two podiums at 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1991 World Sportscar Championship title.
Racing career started with motorcycles
Teo Fabi was born on March 9th, 1955, in Milan, Italy. He was trained as an aeronautical engineer with a degree from the Institute of Technology in Milan. He raced motorcycles prior to his four-wheel career and was a downhill ski racer between 1970 and 1974. As many known racers, he started racing with go-karts and the highlight of his karting career was the 1975 European Karting Championship title. Two years later, he clinched his first title with a race car, becoming the Italian Formula Ford 2000 champion.
Victorious season in New Zealand
The next step was Formula 3, driving Toyota-powered March 783 of Astra Racing in the 1978 European Formula 3 Championship. He won three races (Zolder, Dijon, and Vallelunga) and finished fourth in the championship. He spent the time between the seasons 1978-1979 in New Zealand, driving for March in the Formula Pacific NZ International Series. Fabi won the title, acquiring six wins in ten races.
In 1979, he was back on European tracks, again with March. He competed in Formula Two and finished 10th in the championship. He was driving a BMW-powered March 792 and his best result was 2nd place at Zandvoort. The March 802-BMW was his next car in 1980 Formula Two championship. He took three wins for ICI Roloil Racing Team and finished third in the classification.
First participation at Le Mans with Lancia Beta Monte Carlo
In the same year, Teo Fabi participated in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans race. He partnered Hans Heyer and Bernard Darniche in the Lancia Beta Monte Carlo of Scuderia Lancia Corse. The #51 Lancia started 26th but raced only six laps before retirement.
Fabi was a runner-up in 1981 Can-Am season
Fabi began competing in Can-Am in 1981 for Newman Freeman Racing in their #6 Budweiser March 817-Chevrolet V8. He scored four wins and finished as a runner-up, behind the champion Geoff Brabham.
Formula One debut at the 1982 South African Grand Prix
In 1982, Teo Fabi competed in seven Formula One races and eight races of World Endurance Championship. His first Formula One team was Candy Toleman. He got #36 Hart-powered TG181C and debuted at season-opening South African Grand Prix. The race was marked by drivers' strike because of a disagreement about superlicense conditions. Fabi, under pressure from Toleman manager Alex Hawking, was the only driver to break the strike. However, a late compromise was reached and the race was held. Fabi didn't qualify for the race.
One more Le Mans attempt with Lancia
The TG181C was uncompetitive and Fabi qualified for only seven races out of possible 14. He finished only one race, at San Marino, but eight laps behind the winner, and in the official results he was marked as 'not classified'.
Aside from a poor F1 season, Fabi competed with Martini Racing in the World Endurance Championship. He drove #51 Lancia LC1. He scored the victory at the 1000 km of Nürburgring with Michele Alboreto and Riccardo Patrese. At the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans, Fabi's co-drivers in the same car were Michele Alboreto and Rolf Stommelen. They qualified in the excellent 4th position, but didn't get to the finish. They retired on Lap 92 due to the engine failure. Fabi completed the World Endurance season with one win and four podiums in eight races, and he was ranked 4th in the final classification.
Sensational pole position in his first Indy 500
In 1983, Fabi lost the place in Formula One and raced just four races with Martini Racing, including one more retirement at Le Mans with Lancia LC2. His main focus in 1983 was the CART/PPG Indy Car World Series. He signed for Forsythe Racing and got the seat of the #33 Skoal Bandit March 83C-Cosworth.
His debut at Atlanta International Speedway was disappointing because he retired after 41 laps due to suspension failure. However, following the disappointing results in Atlanta, Fabi took the pole position in his first Indianapolis 500 with the track record speed of 207.395 mph for four laps and a one-lap record of 208.049 mph. He became the first rookie to qualify for the pole position since Walt Faulkner in 1950.
Fantastic rookie season ended with a 2nd place
In the race, Fabi led for the first 23 out of 47 laps before retiring during his second pit stop due to a broken fuel filter which caused fuel to come out of the car. First Indy Car victory followed soon, and it came at Pocono International Raceway. Fabi got his second win two races later at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. After his third victory at Laguna Seca Raceway, Fabi and Al Unser Sr. remained as the only title contenders. Fabi took the pole and won in the last season's race at Phoenix International Raceway, but Unser's fourth place was enough for him to take the title.
After a fantastic rookie season, Fabi and Forsythe Racing continued the cooperation through the season of 1984. Fabi was again driving the #33 Skoal Bandit March 84C-Cosworth. He simultaneously competed in Formula One, so he raced only seven rounds in the 1984 PPG Indy Car World Series, including Indianapolis 500, and finished 25th in the classification.
Parmalat pushed Fabi into Brabham's team
Fabi returned to Formula One in 1984 as a member of Brabham's Motor Racing Development (MRD). He got a seat only thanks to the main sponsor, an Italian company Parmalat, that insisted on having an Italian driver. Team's first driver was the reigning world champion Nelson Piquet, so Teo Fabi got the car with number 2. In BMW-powered Brabham BT53, Fabi participated in twelve races and recorded eight retirements. His best result was third place at Detroit Grand Prix, behind Nelson Piquet and Elio de Angelis.
Due to the clash of commitments with Indy Car Series, Fabi missed three F1 Grand Prix races during the season. In these races, his younger brother Corrado Fabi took the seat in the #2 Brabham.
The mixed approach led to disappointing results both in Indy Car and Formula One, so sometimes in the mid-season, Fabi decided to concentrate solely on Formula One. His performance improved and he scored two more point finishes in Austria and Netherlands. He finished 12th in the championship standings of the 1984 Formula One season.
Bennetton became his new sponsor in 1985
Brabham dropped Fabi for 1985 and he again found a new team backed by the Italian sponsor Benetton. He rejoined Toleman and got #19 TG185-Hart 415T. The team skipped three races due to problems with tire suppliers, so Fabi's first race was the fourth round of the championship in Monaco.
The TG185 was unreliable and Fabi recorded eleven retirements, with only two completed races. Therefore, it was a big surprise when Fabi took the pole position at the German Grand Prix. It was his first Formula One pole ever and the only pole for Toleman. The race was again disappointing and Fabi retired after 29 laps. Fabi's best finish was 12th place at the Italian Grand Prix and he finished the season scoring no points.
1987 was Fabi's last Formula One season
In 1986, Benetton completely took over Toleman and entered the championship with a new BMW powered car. Fabi was driving #19 Benetton B186 alongside the Austrian Gerhard Berger, who became his team-mate in the #20 car. Fabi again had a big percentage of retirements, with 11 DNFs in 16 races. He collected only two points with fifth place at Spanish Grand Prix and finished 15th in the final standings. Fabi's main achievement were two pole positions at Österreichring and Monza.
In 1987, Fabi continued driving for Benetton and he was joined by Thierry Boutsen as his teammate. They were driving a new Cosworth-powered Benetton B187. Fabi's car was more reliable than the previous one and he scored points in five races. His best finish was third place at Austrian Grand Prix at Österreichring. It was his second and last podium in Formula One.
During the season, Benetton signed a young Italian Alessandro Nannini for the following 1988 season to partner Boutsen. Fabi was angry because he lost the seat and he showed his frustration in the final race of the season in Australia, deliberately blocking his teammate Boutsen. Fabi finished his last Formula One season ranked at 9th place.
Three Indy Car seasons on team Porsche
In 1988, Fabi had returned to America and PPG IndyCar World Series. He was hired by Porsche Motorsports and got a seat in the #8 March 88P-Porsche. The Porsche engine was less competitive than the Ilmor-Chevrolet and Cosworth engines. Fabi's best finish was 4th place at Pennsylvania International Raceway. His return to the Indianapolis 500 was also disappointing as he qualified 17th and retired after 30 laps. Fabi finished the season ranked 10th.
His 1989 season was more successful with #8 March 89P-Porsche and he took the win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It remained his last Indy Car victory. Later in the season, Fabi took three more podiums and finished fourth in the championship. At the 1989 Indianapolis 500, Fabi qualified in 13th place and retired in the race after 23 laps.
In 1990, the team and the car were the same, only the number was changed to 4. Fabi's best finish was 3rd place at Meadowlands Sports Complex. Indianapolis 500 attempt was disappointing again because Fabi retired due to the transmission problems after 162 laps. He finished the season in 14th place. At the end of the season, Porsche withdrew from Indy car racing, so Teo Fabi was once again looking for a new challenge.
Endurance racing series world champion with Jaguar
He moved to Tom Walkinshaw Racing/Silk Cut Jaguar and competed in the World Sportscar Championship. Fabi partnered Derek Warwick to win Silverstone race, driving a Jaguar XJR-14, and scored the podiums in five more races, combining XJR-14 and XJR-12. Fabi became the world champion with seven points ahead of his teammate Warwick.
Part of the championship was Le Mans 24-hour race, in which Fabi competed alongside Bob Wollek and Kenny Acheson with #34 Jaguar XJR-12. They started in 27th place and finished 3rd overall, behind the sister car #35 Jaguar XJR-12. The race was won by Mazdaspeed's Mazda 787B.
The best Le Mans finish with Peugeot
In 1992, Fabi participated in only two races, both in June. Newman-Haas Racing hired Fabi as a replacement for the injured Mario Andretti at the ITT Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit at Belle Isle Park. In the race, Fabi qualified 3rd and finished 6th.
His second race was at the 1992 24 Hours of Le Mans with Toyota Team Tom's in the #8 Toyota TS010. Fabi's teammates in Toyota's prototype were Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace. They started the race in 4th position and finished 8th overall (fifth in class).
The best Le Mans result followed in 1993. It was Fabi's only appearance in the sports car racing because he competed in Indy Car Series. Fabi partnered Thierry Boutsen and Yannick Dalmas in #1 Peugeot 905 Evo 1B of Peugeot Talbot Sport. Peugeot factory team took all three podium places, and Fabi's car finished second.
New results at 1994 Indianapolis 500
In 1993, Fabi returned as a full-time driver to Indy Car. He joined Hall VDS Racing in #8 Lola T93/00-Ilmor-Chevrolet. His best result was 4th place at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. At the Indianapolis 500, Fabi started 17th and finished 9th. At the end of the season, Fabi was 11th in the final classification.
In 1994, Fabi drove for the reorganized Hall Racing in the #11 Reynard 94i-Ilmor. He missed reaching podium three times with fourth places at Belle Isle Park, Michigan International Speedway, and Road America. At the Indianapolis 500, Fabi qualified 24th and finished 7th, which was his best result at the famous American race.
The last races as Blundell's replacement
In 1995, Fabi returned to Forsythe Racing and he drove the #33 Reynard 95i-Ford Cosworth. He scored his last Indy Car podium finishing 3rd at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. At the Indianapolis 500, Fabi started 15th and finished 8th. At the end of the season, Fabi was in 9th place, the same as in the previous year.
Fabi was a race car driver without a car during the 1996 season, but he got his last chance at Indy Car when Mark Blundell was injured, so PacWest Racing hired the Italian to drive their #18 Reynard 96i-Ford Cosworth. Fabi participated in two races at Long Beach and Nazareth Speedway. He retired at Long Beach and finished 16th at Nazareth, which was his last race in the career.