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Felice Bonetto (9 June 1903 in Manerbio, near Brescia, Italy – 21 November 1953 in Silao, Mexico) was a courageous racing driver who earned the nickname Il Pirata (The Pirate).

Felice Bonetto
Felice Bonetto.jpg
NationalityItaly Italian
Born(1903-06-09)9 June 1903
Manerbio, Italy
Died21 November 1953(1953-11-21) (aged 50)
Silao, Mexico
Formula One World Championship career
Active years19501953
TeamsMaserati, Scuderia Milano and Alfa Romeo
Entries16 (15 starts)
Championships0
Wins0
Podiums2
Career points17.5
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1950 Swiss Grand Prix
Last entry1953 Italian Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years19521953
TeamsScuderia Lancia
Best finish8th (1952)

He was a road racing legend, who started racing in the 1930s, and enjoyed a brief Formula One career, including a win in the non-Championship Grande Premio do Jubileu in 1953. During his Formula One career, he raced Italian cars, starting with a privateer Maserati for Scuderia Milano, then the works Alfa Romeo, and finally the works Maserati, achieving two shared podiums finishes in the World Championship. His greatest successes were in sport cars, winner of the 1952 Targa Florio, but his career and life were cut short when he fatally crashed into a lamp post in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana whilst leading.

CareerEdit

Debut and early careerEdit

Felice Bonetto was born in Manerbio, which in the province of Brescia, the home of the Mille Miglia. Despite that, he began to race, very young, on motor bikes. The switch to four wheels came very late to modern standards; he, in fact, already 28 when he participated in the Bobbio-Penice, with a Bugatti. Despite having to make do with cars that not always competitive, but the results were not lacking. In 1933, Bonetto was third in the infamous Gran Premio di Monza with an Alfa Romeo 8C 2600. The race will always be remembered as the Black Day of Monza, when three of Europe's greatest racing drivers crashed fatally within a few hours of each other: Giuseppe Campari, Mario-Umberto Borzacchini and Count Stanisław Czaykowski. He was also finish second in the Coppa Principessa di Piemonte. A year later he came twelfth in the Mille Miglia, but he obtained his greatest success after World War II. After the World War II abruptly ended his career, as well as that of his colleagues of the time. Bonetto resumed his racing in 1946 with the small Cisitalia, before moving into Formula One.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Formula OneEdit

Although Bonetto had raced Formula One cars before, he made his World Championship F1 debut in the 1950 Swiss Grand Prix. He was five days short of his 47th birthday. He entered his own Maserati 4CLT in several Grands Prix, under the Scuderia Milano banner, and drove a works Alfa Romeo SpA in 1951, as their number three driver. He shared a third, with Giuseppe Farina in the Gran Premio d'Italia. A move to sports cars followed, but he returned to Formula One at the end of 1952 and had a good season in the Officine Alfieri Maserati in 1953, with a visit to the podium, when he again shared a third-place finish in the Grote Prijs van Nederland. This time partnered by José Froilán González. Away from the World Championship, Bonetto did have some success; he was second in the 1949 in the Gran Premio di Napoli in a Ferrari.[4][5][7][8][9]

Ace of sportEdit

More than F1, however, Bonetto had greater success in sports cars. He won the 1947 Circuito de Firenze driving a Delage 3000. In 1949 he was second in the Mille Miglia, behind Clemente Biondetti, both drove a Ferrari 166 MM Touring for Scuderia Ferrari, and in 1950 he won the Pontedecimo-Giovi hillclimb in an Osca and the Gran Premio di Oporto in his own Alfa Romeo. The following season, he drove for Alfa Romeo's new 1900TI model to class victory in the Giro di Sicilia. Then for 1952, he moved to Scuderia Lancia, and at the wheel of a Lancia Aurelia B20, he finished second on the Giro di Sicilia. He followed this with a sixth place in the Preis von Bremgarten and an eighth in the les 24 Heures du Mans, and finally a great win in the Targa Florio. He continued with the Scuderia Lancia outfit for 1953; claiming third in the Mille Miglia, second in the Gran Premio di Monza, victory in the Grande Premio do Jubileu at the Circuito de Monsanto and he became part of the squadron deployed to the Carrera Panamericana: his teammates for the race were Juan Manuel Fangio, Piero Taruffi, Giovanni Bracco and Eugenio Castellotti.[3][4][5][10]

DeathEdit

The Carrera Panamericana, a notoriously dangerous and difficult public road rally in Mexico that took place over 6 days from one end of the North American country to the other, covering a distance of 2,000 miles (3,200 km). It was the last round of the 1953 World Sportscar Championship, and the race started on 19 November 1953, from Tuxtla Gutiérrez; Bonetto won the first stage, in front of his teammates Taruffi, Fangio and Castellotti. Taruffi would win the next two stages, although Bonetto remained in control. The third day of competition, Bonetto and Taruffi were close and continued to duel with each other; the second stage of the day, however, Taruffi went off the road in the foggy area before the small town of Silao, about 25 miles from León, damaging the steering of his Lancia. In the same locality, Bonetto crashed his Lancia against the balcony of a house, ending up against a pole. Bonetto hit his head on the balcony at speed and was killed instantly. Prior to the event, Bonetto with Taruffi and other Italian drivers reportedly marked dangerous corners along the route with blue signs. His accident happened at one of those locations – despite this care in marking the corners, Felice would take a 60 mph corner at 125 mph.[3][4] After Bonetto's death, team owner Gianni Lancia wanted to withdraw his cars from the race, but the surviving drivers decided to keep on racing in honour of their teammate. Fangio, Taruffi and Castellotti led to the finish giving Lancia first three places, but it was a success that was not rejoiced, as besides Bonetto the race also claimed the lives of fellow Italian drivers, Antonio Stagnoli and Giuseppe Scotuzzi, as well as six spectators. Bonetto is buried in the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano, in the Galleria DE di Levante Inferiore, at the Riparto VI, inside the columbarium 35.[11][3][4]

Bonetto family in the automotive worldEdit

The contribution of the Bonetto family to the automotive world did not end with the death of Bonetto. The nephew, Rodolfo Bonetto, was a leading figure in the field of Italian architecture and industrial design. Rodolfo's son, Marco, continued in this field as chairman of Bonetto Design. As for Felice's own son, Roberto Bonetto has dedicated his career to journalism, to become deputy editor of Quattroruote.[3][12]

Racing recordEdit

Career highlightsEdit

Season Series Position Team Car
1933 Coppa Principessa di Piemonte[2] 2nd Alfa Romeo 8C 2600
Gran Premio di Monza[13] 2nd Alfa Romeo 8C 2600
1947 Coppa Asti Spumante[14] 1st Cisitalia SpA Cisitalia-Fiat D46
Circuito di Vigevano[15] 1st Cisitalia SpA Cisitalia-Fiat D46
Circuito di Firenze[16] 1st Delage 3000
Italian 1500cc u/s Championship[17] 3rd Cisitalia SpA Cisitalia-Fiat D46
Circuito di Pescara, Coppa Acerbo[18] 3rd Maserati
1948 Gran Premio di Apertura[19] 1st Cisitalia SpA Cisitalia-Fiat D46
Coppa Giorgio e Alberto Nuvolari[20] 1st Cisitalia SpA Cisitalia-Fiat D46
Gran Premio di Bari, Coppa Brasile[21] 2nd Cisitalia SpA Cisitalia-Fiat D46
Prix de Berna[22] 3rd Squardra Peiro Dusio Cisitalia-Fiat D46
1949 Mille Miglia[10] 2nd Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta Touring
Gran Premio di Napoli[23] 2nd Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 166 MM Touring
Gran Premio dell'Autodromo di Monza[24] 2nd Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 166C
Gran Premio di Bari[25] 3rd Felice Bonetto Ferrari 166C
1950 Gran Premio di Oporto[26] 1st Alfa Romeo 412
Pontedecimo-Giovi[16] 1st Osca
FIA Formula One World Championship[27] 19th Scuderia Milano Maserati 4CLT/50
Milano-Speluzzi
1951 Gran Premio d'Italia[28] 3rd Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 159A
FIA Formula One World Championship[29] 8th Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 159A
Alfa Romeo 159M
1952 Targa Florio[30] 1st Lancia Aurelia B20 Competitzione
Giro di Sicilia[31] 2nd Lancia Aurelia B20
FIA Formula One World Championship[32] 16th Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati A6GCM
1953 Grande Premio do Jubileu[33] 1st Scuderia Lancia Lancia D23
Gran Premio dell'Autodromo di Monza[34] 2nd Scuderia Lancia Lancia D23
Mille Miglia[35] 3rd Scuderia Lancia Lancia D20 Berlinetta Pinin Farina
Grote Prjs van Nederland[36] 3rd Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati A6GCM/53
FIA Formula One World Championship[37] 9th Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati A6GCM/53

Complete Formula One World Championship resultsEdit

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 WDC Points
1950 Scuderia Milano Maserati 4CLT/50 Maserati Straight-4 GBR
DNA
MON 500 SUI
5
BEL FRA
Ret
19th 2
Milano Speluzzi ITA
DNS
1951 Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 159A Alfa Romeo Straight-8 SUI 500 BEL FRA GBR
4
GER
Ret
ITA
3
8th 7
Alfa Romeo 159M ESP
5
1952 Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati A6GCM Maserati Straight-6 SUI 500 BEL FRA GBR GER
DSQ
NED ITA
5
16th 2
1953 Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati A6GCM Maserati Straight-6 ARG
Ret
500 NED
3
BEL FRA
Ret
GBR
6
GER
4
SUI
4
ITA
Ret
9th 6.5

NotesEdit

Shared drive with José Froilán González
Shared drive with Juan Manuel Fangio

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans resultsEdit

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1952   Louis Rosier   Louis Rosier Talbot-Lago T26C S5.0 92 DNF
Oil tank
1953   Scuderia Lancia   Enrico Anselmi Lancia Aurelia B20 S2.0 247 8th 2nd
1953   Scuderia Lancia   Gino Valenzano Lancia D20 S8.0 66 DNF
(Starter)

Complete Mille Miglia resultsEdit

Year Team Co-Drivers/Navigator Car Class Pos. Class
Pos.
1934   A. Negri Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 S3.0 12th 8th
1948   Milto Maritano Cisitalia 202 SMM S1.1 DNF
1949   Scuderia Ferrari   Carpani Ferrari 166 MM S+1.1 2nd 2nd
1950   Felice Bonetto   G. Casnaghi Alfa Romeo 412 Spider Touring S+2.0 DNF
1951   Felice Bonetto   G. Casnaghi Alfa Romeo 412 Spider Vignale S/GT+2.0 6th 3rd
1952   Felice Bonetto   Gian Paolo Voplini Lancia Aurelia B20 GT2.0 DNF
1953   Scuderia Lancia   U. Peruzzi Lancia D20 Pinin Farina S+2.0 3rd

Complete Carrera Panamericana resultsEdit

Year Team Co-Drivers/Navigator Car Class Pos. Class
Pos.
1950   Automobile Club d'Italia   Bruno Bonini Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 8th n/a
1951     Gian Paolo Volpini Lancia Aurelia B20 DNF n/a
1952   Felice Bonetto Lancia Aurelia B20 S DNF
(Accident)
1953   Scuderia Lancia Lancia D24 S+1.6 DNF
(Fatal accident – Bonetto)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "1933 GRAND PRIX SEASON - 1933 Monza Grand Prix (Gran Premio di Monza)". www.kolumbus.fi. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Coppa Principessa di Piemonte". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Eventi. "In Messico - Sessant'anni Fa La Scomparsa Di Felice Bonetto - Quattroruote". Quattroruote.it. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Jacques Fhima. "ART WORK STUDIO". Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Felice Bonetto". www.historicracing.com. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Formula 1/ Piloti dimenticati: Felice Bonetto, il driver con la pipa". Il Sussidiario.net. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Felice Bonetto". ESPN UK. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  8. ^ "II. Gran Premio di Napoli 1949". Mitorosso.com - Ferrari Online Magazine. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Felice Bonetto Profile - Drivers - GP Encyclopedia - F1 History on Grandprix.com". Grandprix.com. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Mille Miglia". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  11. ^ Grave locator app "Not 2 4get", City of Milano
  12. ^ "Rodolfo Bonetto". Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  13. ^ "1933 GRAND PRIX SEASON - 1933 Monza Grand Prix (Gran Premio di Monza)". www.kolumbus.fi. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  14. ^ "Voiturette 1947 - Coppa Asti". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  15. ^ "Voiturette 1947 - Circuito di Vigevano". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  16. ^ a b Jacques Fhima. "ART WORK STUDIO". Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  17. ^ "Voiturette 1947 - Table". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  18. ^ "Circuito di Pescara". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  19. ^ "Formula 2 1948 - Vercelli". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  20. ^ "Formula 2 1948 - Mantova". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  21. ^ "Formula 2 1948 - GP Bari". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  22. ^ "Formula 2 1948 - Prix de Berne". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  23. ^ "GP Napoli". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  24. ^ "Felice Bonetto". Driver Database. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  25. ^ "Formula 2 1949 - GP di Bari". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  26. ^ "Circuito do Porto". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  27. ^ "Results 1950 Formula 1 Season". F1 Fansite. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  28. ^ "Results 1951 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Italy". F1 Fansite. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  29. ^ "Results 1951 Formula 1 Season". F1 Fansite. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  30. ^ "Targa Florio". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  31. ^ "Giro di Sicilia". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  32. ^ "Results 1952 Formula 1 Season". F1 Fansite. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  33. ^ "Monsanto". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  34. ^ "GP Monza". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  35. ^ "South American Formula Libre/Temporada Races 1946-1952". www.teamdan.com. Archived from the original on 23 January 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  36. ^ "Results 1953 Formula 1 Grand Prix of the Netherlands". F1 Fansite. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  37. ^ "Results 1953 Formula 1 Season". F1 Fansite. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Franco Cortese
Targa Florio
1952
Succeeded by
Umberto Maglioli