Remembering a racer and a gentleman

Michele Alboreto would have turned 61 today, and the last Italian to win a Grand Prix for Ferrari remains sorely missed.

A veteran of 194 Grands Prix and a five-time F1 winner, Alboreto was smart, sensitive and hugely likeable, and a man who embodied a racing spirit from a bygone era.

Ken Tyrrell gave the Italian his F1 apprenticeship, a privilege he put to good use by delivering to Uncle Ken his final two Grand Prix victories before moving to the House of Maranello in 1984.

He was a strong contender for the world championship in 1985, but the Scuderia's reliability woes that year enabled McLaren's Alain Prost to slip by and clinch the title.

Alboreto's F1 career slowly dwindled down thereafter as he moved from one under-performing team to the other, ultimately bowing out with Minardi at the end of 1994.

He put his outstanding skills to good use in sportscar racing however, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours with a Porsche in 1997.

In 2001, a month after winning the Sebring 12 Hours with the factory Audi team, Alboreto was killed testing an Audi R8 at the Lausitzring in Germany, a tragedy which left the motorsport community truly stunned with grief. Michele was just 44.