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Alfa Romeo’s chief test driver, Consalvo Sanesi also raced its famous 158 Alfetta from 1946 until its withdrawal from Formula 1 in 1951. He continued in sports cars and touring cars before a fiery accident prompted him to retire in 1964. His race form befitted his day job – reliable but never the star.
Formula 1 with Alfa Romeo
Sanesi drove one of five Alfa Romeo 158s in the very first race held to F1 rules – the 1946 Valentino Grand Prix in Turin – and was a heat winner and third overall at Milan that year. 1947 included a second place finish at Bari and both pole position and finishing third in the Italian GP on the streets of Milan. His best GP finish came in the 1948 French GP when second at Reims behind Jean-Pierre Wimille.
Alfa Romeo did not race in 1949 but returned to dominate the new world championship a year later. Sanesi retired from the 1950 Italian GP on his only GP start that year. However, he was a regular in the line-up for 1951 and finished fourth in the opening championship round in Switzerland. But he was burnt while practising a fuel stop at Monza. Pulled clear by a mechanic, the car was on fire for over half-an-hour.
Subsequent racing career
The marque withdrew from F1 at the end of the season and so ended Sanesi’s career at that level. He continued to race in sports cars and was a class winner on the 1954 Carrera Panamericana with an Alfa Romeo 1900Ti. However, Sanesi was injured after crashing an Alfa Romeo Disco Volante in testing later that year.
He resumed his intermittent sports car career in 1956 and drove a Scuderia Sant Ambroeus Alfa Romeo 1600TZ in the 1964 Sebring 12 Hours. Sanesi crashed into Bob Johnson’s Cobra during the closing stages of the race. His car was launched into the wall and engulfed in flames with Sanesi trapped inside until fellow driver Jocko Maggiacomo sprinted from the pits and released him.
Maggiacomo received awards for his gallantry and, a week shy of his 53rd birthday, Sanesi decided it was a good time to retire.