My first race -- Andrea de Cesaris

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Italian FF2000, Monza, 1977

My first race was in Formula Super Ford at Monza.  I was 18 years old. For me it was very special, because I didn’t have any money to run in a single-seater. I had a distant uncle who had bought an Osella with another guy. They were sharing it in some races. I went to him and put a lot of pressure on him to let me try the car. At the end of the day he said, ‘Let’s go to Vallelunga and drive for a few laps.’ I drove it much quicker than him and he was so astonished he said, ‘It’s my turn to drive next week, but I’ll let you instead.’ So I went to Monza, was really quick in my first race and I finished second. It was the beginning of a nightmare! I knew that if I didn’t find something else I couldn’t continue racing. But he was very pleased that his car was second, because he always finished 10th, 11th or 15th!  He let me drive the last two races and I won both. I was good, but I was lucky.

…and my last race —  European GP, Jerez, 1994

Halfway through the race, when I stopped, I was walking back to the pits. I was thinking, ‘Is this my last race?’ because I knew Karl Wendlinger was supposed to come back for Japan and Australia. The day after I decided it was my last race and I really switched off. Then Peter Sauber realised that Karl still couldn’t drive. So he called me back.  I just told him, ‘I cannot drive anymore, I’m totally out. I’m not ready any more.’  For me it was over. If you don’t have fun going to the races, it’s not very nice to do it.