Italian Formula 1 driver Elio de Angelis sadly lost his life on this day in 1986 when testing his Brabham-BMW at the Paul Ricard circuit in Southern France.
De Angelis was born March 26 1958 in Italy. He raced in Formula 1 between 1979 and 1986, driving for teams Shadow, Lotus and Brabham.
He scored two wins in F1. The first one came in 1982 at the Austrian Grand Prix in Zeltweg when his Cosworth-powered Lotus crossed the line just 0.05 seconds ahead of the Williams of Keke Rosberg. His other win came at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1985.
The tragic accident that took his life happened May 15, 1986. When testing at the Paul Ricard circuit, the rear wing of his Brabham BT55 detached at high speed in the "S de la Verrerie", resulting in the car losing downforce on the rear wheels, which instigated a cartwheel over a sidetrack barrier and causing the car to catch fire.
The impact itself did not kill the likeable Italian but he was unable to extract himself from the car unassisted. Track marshals, mechanics and even journalist provided him with emergency assistance. De Angelis died 29 hours later, at the hospital in Marseille where he had been taken, from smoke inhalation.
Elio de Angelis was not only a very good race car driver, he was also a highly gifted piano player. He is sorely missed.