Teo Fabi

Full Name:
Teodorico Oreste Antonio Fabi
Born:
9th March 1955 (Age 63)
Milan, Lombardy
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The prematurely bald Teo Fabi may not have the looks of a racing driver, but he was the consummate professional. His five seasons in Formula 1 included three pole positions although he never led a lap. But he starred in Champ Cars and won the 1991 World Sportscar Championship.

Background and early racing career

The older son of a wealthy talcum powder mine owner, Fabi was a fine downhill skier during the early 1970s before he followed younger brother Corrado into karting. Soon successful at his new sport, Teo was in the team that won the 1975 European Karting Championship after Corrado was barred for being too young.

Once set on his new course, Teo Fabi quickly progressed through Formula Ford 1600 to race a private March 783-Toyota in Formula 3 during 1978. He won in both the Italian and European Championships that year and was fourth in the latter.

Fabi graduated to the 1979 European Formula 2 Championship with a works March 792-BMW. Second at Zandvoort, he remained with the team for 1980 and challenged for the title. He won three times but was ultimately third behind Toleman’s Brian Henton and Derek Warwick. In contention for the RAM March Formula 1 drive in 1981, Fabi instead raced Paul Newman’s March 817-Chevrolet in Can-Am. He won four times but was narrowly beaten to the title by Geoff Brabham.

Formula 1, sports cars and America

When Fabi did graduate to F1 in 1982 it was with Toleman, although he struggled to qualify as team-mate Warwick impressed. Winner of the Nürburgring 1000Kms for Lancia, he was forced to seek his next single-seater move in America.

His success in Champ Cars during 1983 was spectacular and re-established his reputation. The Italian qualified Gerry Forsythe’s Skoal Bandit March 83C-Cosworth on pole position for the Indianapolis 500 and won four races. He ultimately lost the championship to Al Unser Sr at the final round but conclusively won the Rookie of the Year title.

Formula 1 return with Brabham and Toleman

He had already re-signed with Forsythe for 1984 when he was invited to join Brabham for F1. A compromise was reached with Corrado replacing Teo for the Grands Prix he would miss when he was committed to Champ Car races. Teo eventually chose to concentrate on F1 and third in Detroit was the best of three points scores that season.

Fabi missed the last race of the season due to the death of his father and he contemplated quitting to manage the family business. In the event, it was Corrado who took control of the company as Teo accepted an offer to return to Toleman for 1985. That season was marred by unreliability and he did not score a point but he qualified on pole position for the German GP.

Pole positions for Benetton-BMW

Toleman was bought and re-branded by primary sponsor Benetton for 1986. Its Hart engines were also replaced by BMWs and the Benetton-BMW combination proved a potent mix. Fabi qualified on pole for successive races in Austria and Italy but it was team-mate Gerhard Berger who gave the marque its maiden GP victory that autumn. Benetton switched to normally-aspirated Ford power for 1987 and Fabi finished third in that year’s Austrian GP in what was Fabi’s final F1 season. He left F1 having started 64 GPs.

Fabi returned to Champ Cars in 1988 with the Quaker State March-Porsche team and steadily developed the combination. Team owner and driving force Al Holbert died that year but Fabi scored a popular breakthrough victory for the team in Mid-Ohio’s 1989 race. Fabi also finished second at Michigan and Elkhart Lake as he came fourth overall. However, that ambitious programme was disbanded at the end of 1990.

World Sportscar Champion

It was a surprise when Fabi joined Tom Walkinshaw’s Jaguar sports car team in 1991 but he ended the season as world champion. He shared a Ross Brawn-designed Jaguar XJR-14 with Martin Brundle, Derek Warwick and David Brabham at times during the year and beat Warwick to the title thanks to his greater consistency. He also finished third at Le Mans (with an XJR-12, Bob Wollek and Kenny Acheson) and won the Sugo Japanese Championship race when sharing a Suntec-entered XJR-14 with Brabham.

A disappointing title defence with Toyota and two seasons with the Hall-VDS Champ Car team followed. He did finish second at Le Mans in 1993 for Peugeot and glimpses of his old speed were evident in Forsythe’s Reynard 95I-Ford during the 1995 Champ Car World Series.

He subbed for the injured Mark Blundell for a couple of races during the 1996 Champ Car season but retired from the sport that year to return to the family business once more.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1996 PPG Indycar World Series
PacWest Racing Group
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1995 PPG Indycar World Series
Forsythe Racing
17 1 1 0
0% win rate
9th 83
1994 PPG Indycar World Series
Hall Racing
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
9th 79
1993 PPG Indycar World Series
Hall-VDS Racing
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
11th 64
1992 PPG Indycar World Series
Newman-Haas Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
21st 8
1992 World Sportscar Championship
Toyota Team TOM's
1 0 0 0 26th 8
1991 World Sportscar Championship
Silk Cut Jaguar
7 (1) 4 6 1 1st 86
1990 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Porsche Motorsports
16 1 1 0
0% win rate
14th 32
1989 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Porsche Motorsports
15 2 4 1
7% win rate
4th 141
1988 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Porsche Motorsports
15 0 0 0
0% win rate
10th 44
1987 F1 World Championship
Benetton Formula
16 0 1 0
0% win rate
9th 12
1986 F1 World Championship
Benetton Formula
16 2 0 0
0% win rate
15th 2
1985 F1 World Championship
Toleman Group Motorsport
13 1 0 0
0% win rate
0
1984 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Forsythe Racing
7 0 1 0
0% win rate
25th 15
1984 F1 World Championship
Motor Racing Developments
12 0 1 0
0% win rate
12th 9
1983 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Forsythe Racing
13 6 7 4
31% win rate
2nd 146
1983 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
4 1 0 0 64th 4
1982 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
8 1 4 1 4th 66
1982 F1 World Championship
Toleman Group Motorsport
7 (7) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1981 World Endurance Championship
Hughes de Chaunac
2 0 0 0 132nd 18
1981 SCCA Can-Am Challenge
Paul Newman Racing
4 0 4 4 0
1980 World Championship of Makes
Lancia Corse
1 0 0 0 0
1980 European F2 Championship
ICI Racing Team
12 2 5 3
25% win rate
3rd 38
1979 New Zealand International Championship 1st -
1979 European F2 Championship
March Engineering
12 0 1 0
0% win rate
10th 13
1979 BMW M1 Procar
BMW Motorsport
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1979 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1978 European F3 Championship
Astra Racing Team
14 (1) 3 7 3
22% win rate
4th 45
1977 European F3 Championship
Teo Fabi
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0