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Vincenzo Sospiri

7th October 1966 (Age 54)
Forli, Emilia Romagna
Most recent race (in database):

Vincenzo Sospiri was a prodigious karting talent who promised much in cars but was unable to translate that talent into a Formula 1 career.

Early racing career

Second in the 1987 125cc karting world championship, Sospiri arrived in British Formula Ford 1600 in 1988 with much expected and he did not disappoint. Third in the RAC British FF1600 Championship with John Village’s Van Diemen RF88, he won the Brands Hatch Festival after a stunning drive in the final.

British Formula Vauxhall Champion in 1990 for David Sears Motorsport, and runner-up to Rubens Barrichello in Europe, he progressed straight to Formula 3000 in 1991 with Middlebridge Racing and a Lola T91/50-Cosworth. Second at Hockenheim was the highlight as he finished eighth in the championship. However, a lack of sponsorship forced him to retreat to Italian Formula 3 for the following season.

Formula 3000 Champion but F1 frustration

His return to F3000 in 1993 with a Mythos Reynard 93D-Judd included another second place finish at Enna-Pergusa. He joined Super Nova Racing for 1994 and 1995 and finally he had machinery with which he shone. That second season with the team delivered Sospiri race wins and the F3000 title in his fourth season in the category.

Benetton’s F1 test driver in 1996, he joined the disastrous Mastercard Lola Grand Prix programme as race driver for 1997. However, neither team nor car were ready. Both Lola T97/30-Fords failed to qualify for the opening round in Australia and the team withdrew from the championship before race two.

Subsequent racing career

Sospiri immediately switched to the new Indy Racing League with a Team Scandia Dallara IR7-Oldsmobile and impressed by qualifying on the front row at Indianapolis. He then finished second at New Hampshire as he adapted to ovals with aplomb. He also started a couple of Formula Nippon races at the end of the year as he sought a new direction for his career.

That change came in the new Sports Racing World Cup in 1998 which he dominated with Emmanuel Collard and a JMB Racing Ferrari 333SP. Champions in 1998 and 1999, Sospiri made a brief return to open-wheel racing but struggled during four races with a works Eagle-Toyota in the 1998 Champ Car World Series.

He was a driver in the Le Mans pole-winning Toyota GT-One in 1999 and he raced for a final time in the 2001 Sebring 12 Hours. Sospiri retired from the cockpit to establish Euronova Racing in 2002.