August 16, 1987: the last podium of Teo Fabi |  FormulaPassion.it

August 16, 1987: the last podium of Teo Fabi | FormulaPassion.it

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August 16, 1987: the last podium of Teo Fabi |  FormulaPassion.it

Teo Fabi, Austria and the United States. If you read this sequence you might immediately think of something unusual, not to say reckless. In reality, there is a connection between these three elements that responds to the name of the atypical, given the different stories united by a sense of originality that is curious to say the least, summarized in a day like August 16. Yes, because the competitive career of Teodorico “Teo” Fabi, born in Milan in 1955, was anything but an adventure devoted to a linear path and planned down to the smallest detail. After making his debut in the top racing series in 1982 at the wheel of a Toleman, the Milanese, also thanks to an uncompetitive car, flew the following year to the USA to dedicate himself to the championship. CART.

What could appear to be a temporary solution to be able to subsequently relaunch in Formula 1, instead became one of the biggest surprises still known to Italian motorsport today: its absolute debut in Indianapolis 500 (second appointment of the 1983 calendar), Fabi succeeded in the amazing feat of conquering the pole position, even signing the new track record and becoming the first European driver to establish such a result. This placement also earned him the appointment to Rookie of the Year of that season, in which Fabi showed everyone his particular skill in the flying lap. A potential that the Milanese managed to highlight also in the Circus, where his name appears three times in the list of riders capable of winning a pole start. Specifically, he reached this milestone at the 1985 German GP, ​​with Toleman, and at the Austrian GP the following year with Benetton. With the latter team he finished ahead of everyone in that of Monza, becoming at the same time the last Italian driver to be started from the first place of the starting grid in the home race. Less fortunate was the score in the race, in which however he boasts a podium achieved in 1984 in Detroit.

But since the character in question is Teo Fabi, we cannot forget what happened in an afternoon of 34 years, the day in which really everything happened in that ofORsterreichring. On August 16, 1987, Formula 1 is ready to compete in the Austrian Grand Prix, tenth round of the world championship. The eve focuses again on the duel between the two Williams of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, absolute dominators of the season. However, the physical condition of the Lion English are not optimal: after having undergone the removal of his wisdom tooth before the tests, the British mustachioed still manages to conquer the second place, behind his teammate. Yet, the best-known and most frightening episode of those qualifications saw the McLaren driver as the unfortunate protagonist. Stefan Johansson: engaged in his fastest lap, the Swede suddenly found himself in front of a deer, which the driver unfortunately was unable to avoid. Despite the fear and the very bad impact, which could have had much worse consequences, Johansson got away with a fractured rib, an injury that did not prevent him from participating in the next day’s race.

The other reason why the 1987 Austrian GP is still remembered today concerns the total confusion in the actual race, with Fabi 5th on the grid behind the other. Benetton by Thierry Boutsen: at the start Brundle loses control of his Zakspeed, bouncing the vehicle on the straight causing a series of collisions. The commissioners immediately impose the suspension of the GP, therefore destined for a second start. Also and above all in this case, an accident occurs again: ten cars are involved in an impressive tangle, at the end of which all the drivers concerned miraculously come out unscathed, returning to the track for the third way with their forklift, except by Philippe Streiff. A few moments after the green light goes out, Prost accuses his McLaren of a breakdown, such as to abandon the car and also get into the reserve car, even if he started from the pit lane. In the meantime, the rest of the group carries out another reconnaissance lap, at the end of which the Austrian GP can finally begin.

With Piquet in front of the group, followed by Berger, Boutsen, Mansell and Fabi, the cards on the table atORsterreichring change with the retirement of the home idol on lap 5, until then firmly in second position. With the subsequent recoveries of Mansell and Fabi, able in turn to outclass their respective teammates and to hoist themselves to 1st and 3rd place, the race sees the total domination of the Williams, who create the void between them and the Benetton of the Milanese. The result remains unchanged until the checkered flag, with Mansell’s victory that allows the Englishman to shorten the gap in the world championship standings from the leader Piquet and from the other Brazilian Senna, author of a disappointing 5th place finish. However, it was above all Teo Fabi who won the applause of the Austrian public, who with the conquest of the 3rd place obtained his second and last place on the podium in Formula 1, a category that he will abandon at the end of the season to undertake a second parenthesis in the United States .

FP | Alessandro Prada

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