Michele Alboreto's 1991 testing accident (found footage of Formula One test session crash; 1991)

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Michelle Alboreto crashes into the outside wall at Tamburello.

Status: Found

Date found: 18 May 2021

Found by: Lor Bet

In preparation for the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix, driver Michele Alboreto was testing a Footwork-Porsche FA12 at the Imola Circuit. As he was approaching the Tamburello corner, his car suddenly lost its front wing. He collided with the outside wall, destroying the Footwork and causing it to erupt into flames. However, Alboreto was able to limp away from the crash, requiring fifteen stitches in the process. It was one of three high-speed crashes at Tamburello cited as missed opportunities to improve Imola's safety prior to Ayrton Senna's fatal accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. While photos were widely publicly available, footage of the crash was inaccessible until being unearthed in 2021 from a 1994 Italia 1 broadcast.


Michele Alboreto is best known for his stint at Ferrari from 1984 to 1988.[1] In 1985, he won two races and finished runners-up behind McLaren-TAG driver Alain Prost.[1] After brief drives for Tyrrell-Ford and Larrousse-Lamborghini in 1989, he signed a contract with Arrows for 1990.[1] After enduring a pointless season in an uncompetitive Arrows-Ford, he would stay with the team for 1991, now renamed as Footwork.[1] Alboreto, alongside teammate Alex Caffi and test driver Perry McCarthy, would test the team's new car, the FA12, in preparation for the 1991 World Championship.[2][1]

One of these testing sessions was held at Imola heading into the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix.[3][4][5][2] During the session, Alboreto was approaching the Tamburello corner at speed.[6][3][4][2] Suddenly, he lost control of his Footwork as its front wing broke away from the chassis.[6][3][4] The car drove into a straight line before slamming into a concrete barrier.[3][4][2] The impact destroyed one of the car's front wheels and its rear, while rupturing its fuel tank.[4][2] This resulted in the Footwork erupting into flames, before coming to rest near the grass.[4][3] Despite the crash's violent nature, Alboreto was able to swiftly exit his car and limp away.[3][2][4] He required fifteen stitches to his leg following the accident, but was able to compete for the entirety of the season.[2][3][6][1] Ultimately, the FA12 proved uncompetitive, with the Italian barely able to even qualify for most races, finishing the season after again having scored no points.[1] He would continue racing in Formula One before retiring after the 1994 season.[1]

Following Ayrton Senna's fatal accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, an investigation began on whether Senna's injuries could have been avoided.[6][3] Alboreto's crash was highlighted as one of three examples of serious accidents at Tamburello that served as warning signs ignoring by Formula One's governing body, the FIA.[3] During testing in 1987, Nelson Piquet crashed his Williams-Honda at the corner, only walking away uninjured as he had spun beforehand.[3] At the 1989 San Marino Grand Prix, Gerhard Berger crashed into the wall when his Ferrari suffered a front wing failure, causing the car to burst into flames.[3] Berger would escape with burnt hands.[3] After Senna's death, Tamburello was changed so that a chicane was installed at the inner side, reducing speeds heading into the corner.[3][6] Meanwhile, Alboreto would also testify at a trial over six Formula One officials charged with manslaughter following Senna's, stating he believed the crash's cause was because of a mechanical failure not too dissimilar to his own accident three years earlier.[6]


While photos of the accident and its aftermath were made publicly available, actual footage of it was considered missing for many years. Eventually, on 18th May 2021, user Lor Bet uploaded a near-minute video of the accident to YouTube. They explained that they had obtained it from Italian television channel Italia 1, which had showcased the footage in a program discussing Senna's accident. The footage was most likely televised to note the similarities between both accidents. Additionally, an interview where Alboreto briefly discussed his accident is also publicly viewable.[5]



Footage of the crash.

Spectrox video "Lost Media / Contenido Perdido De F1" detailing the lost footage and its recovery (11:21-12:07, video in Spanish).

See Also