Lorenzo Bandini

Born:
21st December 1935
Barce, Cyrenaica Province (LAR)
Died:
10th May 1967 (Aged 31)
Monte Carlo, Monaco, Monaco GP
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

With classic Italian good looks and a Formula 1 Ferrari to drive, Lorenzo Bandini was every inch a star of the 1960s.

Upbringing and early career

Born to Italian parents in colonial North Africa, his father was murdered during the closing years of World War Two. Lorenzo Bandini left home to become an apprentice mechanic in Milan when just 15 years old.

He opened his own garage after five years, learning his trade and started racing in 1957 with a Fiat 1100 borrowed from his former boss. Bandini’s association with that family was an enduring one for he eventually married the daughter, Margheritta Freddi.

Senior Freddi entered Bandini in the 1958 Mille Miglia with a Lancia Appia Zagato and the youngster won his class. His growing reputation was enhanced in Formula Junior with a Volpini – winning races as far afield as Cuba – before graduating to F1 in 1961.

Formula 1 debut and Ferrari graduation

That was with Scuderia Centro Sud’s Cooper T53-Maserati with which he started four Grands Prix and finished third in lesser events at Pau and Naples. He also made his World Sportscar Championship debut that year when sharing a Centro Sud Ferrari 250TR with Giorgio Scarlatti in the Pescara finale. Bandini "scorched through the field" from 35th on the opening lap to win after Lucky Casner crashed out of the lead.

Those performances attracted the attention of Enzo Ferrari and Bandini was the Scuderia’s reserve driver for 1962. A second-place finish in the Targa Florio was followed by a fine third at Monaco on his F1 championship debut for the team. He also won the Mediterranean GP at Enna that year with a Ferrari Dino 156.

Surprisingly not retained for 1963, his three GPs in a Centro Sud BRM P57 included finishing fifth at Silverstone. Back in the Ferrari fold by the middle of the year, he won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Ludovico Scarfiotti and a Ferrari 250P and finished fifth in the United States and South African GPs. Bandini was named Italian Champion for 1963.

Grand Prix winner in Austria

Permanent number two to John Surtees for the 1964 GP season, Bandini won a race of attrition in Austria and played a team game in Mexico to help the Englishman secure his dramatic world championship victory. Podium finishes in Germany, Italy and that Mexican finale helped Bandini to fourth in the 1964 F1 standings.

He won the Targa Florio and finished second at Monaco during May 1965 but his relationship with Surtees was becoming ever-more strained as he grew frustrated with life as a number two driver. He was again second in Monaco a year later and finished third in the wet Belgian GP before Surtees suddenly quit.

Bandini assumed de facto team leadership of Ferrari before the 1966 French GP at Reims. He responded by qualifying in pole position only to lose victory when his throttle cable broke.

Sports car success and tragedy

The 1967 season started with victory in two of the opening three World Sportscar Championship events sharing a Ferrari 330P4 with New Zealander Chris Amon. Ferrari missed the opening F1 round of the year but returned in Monaco. Bandini’s Ferrari 312 qualified on the front row and was running second on lap 82 when he crashed at the chicane.

Badly injured but still alive, Bandini was trapped underneath the overturned car for an eternity before fire erupted and was fanned by a helicopter hovering overhead. He was terribly burnt and died in hospital three days later without regaining consciousness.