Michele Alboreto in focus

by Alfredo Parga*
Buenos Aires (AR), 31 Dec 1997

Time seems to allow the character - whoever he is - to explain things better. It is possible that the nearness to an event prevents people from talking about it properly. An outspoken Alboreto reconstructs his past, word by word.

'When I left Ferrari at the end of 1988, I agreed to drive for Tyrrell and I did not mind about the money. It was the first-ever car equipped with a monoshock and many other drivers had refused to drive it. After three races, I managed to take a place on the podium in Mexico.

'I was fully aware that I had used the same engine for qualifying and for racing. Tyrrell's thank-you consisted in a beautiful kick in my a***, because as of the French GP I was to be replaced in the team with (Camel-backed driver) Jean Alesi, so I went to end up in Footwork. I spent there three years, driving everything; Ford engine, Porsche engine - which was a disaster -, Mugen engine...

'I endeavoured to do things in the best way. As if I would be driving for the first time in F1; that year I took big risks, but I felt satisfied. After all I allowed myself a great pleasure: finishing 14 out of 16 GPs in the year. However, when the season ended, everyone in my team seemed to have started suffering from amnesia because no one remembered what I had done.

'An award from journalism was the only thing I had in appreciation of what I had done; Autosprint magazine gave me a prize. It was in that moment when my vision about the category changed.

'I looked myself as a constantly squeezed, gradually used lemon. First I thought on doing something with friends; there was a work with Scuderia Italia. Another work, later, with Minardi.

'I know that a lot of people thought I was a worn-out driver by December 1994, but that wasn't a problem for me. Those criticisms didn't hurt me. After the F1 experience, I began to drive Turismo cars. At first I had a kind of identity problem, so I criticised myself for that, until on a fine day I discovered myself as a competitive driver by testing together with Nannini and Francia, so I regained my confidence. Until the end of season, I used the Alfa experimental car which nobody wanted to drive.

'Nowadays, I am inspired by the example of Emerson Fittipaldi. He is a great example of humility and willpower. I remember he was treated as if he were a ghost in his last F1 season. Notwithstanding that, he kept in shape by driving go-karts in Brazil.

'In America, Fittipaldi had the faculty to start from scratch, from below, motivating himself and building his new career. Today, at 50, Emerson is a happy man. I hope to have his fortune and talent, to get to do the same someday.'

* translated by Maximiliano Catania/FUNO

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