Gabriele Tarquini: The Motor Sport Interview

Given better equipment this shrewd Italian would have scored more than a single F1 point. A switch to touring cars ignited his career and now, at 59, Gabriele Tarquini ready to hang up his driving boots

Gabriele Tarquini portrait
Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Yann Ehrlacher, the World Touring Car Cup champion and nephew to Yvan Muller, is 25 years old – which means he was born in 1996. By then, Gabriele Tarquini’s Formula 1 ambitions had spluttered out, he’d conquered the booming British Touring Car Championship and was thriving as a seasoned tin-top pro racing for Alfa Romeo in the high-tech but short-lived madcap world of the International Touring Car Championship. The Italian was 34 in ’96, so hardly in the first flush of youth in relative motor sport terms. This season he was still racing, lining up on WTCR grids to take on Ehrlacher, old rival and now friend Muller (himself 52), plus the rest of the rich talent pool the series is cultivating. Most importantly, Tarquini was also still winning. Then in November, ahead of his home race in Adria, he announced his retirement.

He’ll be 60 in March, but looks younger (although the facemask probably helps) and is clearly in fantastic physical shape. We meet at the Hungaroring, a few months before he called time on his career, prior to a WTCR round where he’ll line up among Hyundai’s quartet of new Elantra N TCRs, still expectant after a win last time out in Aragon, his first since 2019. It’s an FIA series, hence the strict Covid protocols. The familiar bright eyes are smiling above the mask and this gentleman racer answers our questions with the easy charm that so endeared him to British fans in 1994, when he arrived on these shores with Alfa Corse and blitzed the BTCC. His English is better now, but that singsong accent remains just as it always was.

Back in the late 1980s, Tarquini was among the most promising of a pool of rising talent himself, as a golden generation of fresh Italian drivers pushed through: Caffi, Capelli, Nannini, Morbidelli, Montermini, Naspetti, Larini, Zanardi… Some, including Ivan Capelli, Nicola Larini and Gianni Morbidelli, started grands prix for Ferrari, but only one scored an F1 victory – Alessandro Nannini, before the chain-smoking Benetton driver’s top-flight career was severed (along with his right forearm) in a helicopter crash.