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Riccardo Paletti

15th June 1958
Milan, Lombardy
13th June 1982 (Aged 23)
Montreal, Quebec (CDN), Canadian GP
Most recent race (in database):

This bespectacled Italian graduated to Formula 2 having only started 15 Formula 3 events. Riccardo Paletti was a personable man who delivered more than expected at that level. However, his Grand Prix career was short and tragic.

Early racing career

He began racing in national SuperFord in 1977 and his brief time in Italian F3 included a couple of fifth place finishes at Varano in 1979. Paletti made his F2 debut with Sanremo Racing’s March 792-BMW at Misano that year.

The next two seasons were spent in the category with Mike Earle’s semi-works Onyx Race Engineering March-BMW and he showed gradual improvement. An impressive second at Silverstone at the start of 1981 was his best result. Fastest lap at Hockenheim and third at Thruxton augured well before his competitiveness that season waned.

Formula 1 with Osella

Undeterred, Paletti took his Pioneer sponsorship to the Osella Formula 1 team for 1982. It was a difficult debut with the small Italian outfit – initially failing to qualify except at Imola and then only making the field due to a boycott. However, when the series made its mid-season visit to North America, Paletti’s form seemed to improve.

He qualified in Detroit (but did not start after a warm-up accident) and Canada. However, his second GP start proved disastrous. Pole winner Didier Pironi stalled on the grid and an unsighted Paletti ploughed straight into the back of the stationary Ferrari at over 100mph. The Italian suffered horrendous injuries and died in hospital shortly after arriving – two days before his 24th birthday.

The circuit at Varano (where he had twice won F3 qualifying heats) was renamed the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti in his honour.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1982 F1 World Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
2 (6) 0 0 0
0% win rate
1981 European F2 Championship
Onyx Race Engineering
12 0 2 0
0% win rate
10th 11
1980 European F2 Championship
Onyx Race Engineering
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
1980 European F3 Championship
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
1979 European F2 Championship
Sanremo Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
1979 European F3 Championship
Riccardo Paletti
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1979 Italian F3 Championship 12th 7