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Riccardo Paletti (born 15 June 1958 – died 13 June 1982) was an Italian racing driver who died on his 2nd race start in Formula One.

Helmet Design[]

Riccardo Paletti's helmet design.

Paletti's helmet was blue with a light blue "V" type pattern that was added near the visor. The visor also had a Pioneer sponsor.

Formula One Career[]

Pre-Formula One[]

Paletti entered the Formula Super Ford for nine races in 1978. At his first race, he led a total of 18 laps but did not win the race. He did not win during his first season of racing, but did finish 2nd twice and managed to earn 3rd place in the season championship.

Close to the end of the Formula Super Ford season, Paletti was offered a racing sport in Formula Three, by the March-Toyota team. He raced his first F3 race at the Italian Grand Prix. After racing the Italian Grand Prix, Plaetti had earned a full time Formula Three seat for the 1979 season. He was unsuccessful in the series only placing 5th (twice) as his highest position.

During the 1979 season, Paletti managed to race a few Formula Two races with Mike Earle's Onyx Formula Two team. In 1981, Paletti performed winter testing with the Onyx team which eventually led to a season spot on the team. The beginning of the season was off to a great start after he managed to maintain 2nd place in the championship. Unfortunately, a streak of bad luck began and Paletti fell down in the championship to finish in 10th place.


Paletti's sponsor, Pioneer wanted him to move up to Formula One. Although the sport struck him with a little fear, Paletti joined Formula One for the 1982 season. He joined the Osella team which was not very competitive during the time because of a lack of funds. He was teamed with Jean-Pierre Jarier from France.

Something that was unusual for the time, was that Paletti had a personal medical adviser. This adviser would monitor Paletti's blood pressure and heartbeat during test and practice sessions, then modify Paletti's diet based upon the results. Although this is a popular tactic in the sport today, it was uncommon during this period of time.

Paletti served as the secondary driver for the team, but struggled to qualify for any races until the San Marino Grand Prix when he qualified in 13th position. Although, he was unable to complete the race due to a suspension failure.

For the Detroit Grand Prix, Paletti qualified for the race, but Jarier crashed his car at the end of the qualifying session. Therefore, since Paletti was the number two driver, his teammate took his car as a spare meaning Paletti was forced to sit out the race.


Paletti was killed on the second start of his career at the Canadian Grand Prix, only two days before his 24th birthday.

Race driver Didier Pironi had the pole position for the race, but had stalled his engine off of the start of the race. Despite giving hand signals to cancel the start, the race began. Drivers at the front of the pack swerved to avoid Pironi's stationary car, causing an accident. Meanwhile at the back of the field, Paletti stuck the back of Pironi's car at speeds estimated to be around 180km/h.

From the force of the impact, Paletti had suffered many internal chest injuries, was unconscious had two broken legs. Pironi was the first on the scene as he jumped from his car to help clear the wreckage from Paletti. When the safety and medical crew arrived on the scene, the leaking fuel from the car caught fire, engulfing the entire car in flames.

According to the track crew, Paletti was (for the most part) unaffected by the fire because the safety crew we sure to aim fire extinguishers at Paletti. When the fire was put out, Paletti had no pulse. The medical crew carried out the 25 minute task of cutting Paletti from the car, where he was transferred to the nearby Royal Victoria Hospital. There he was pronounced dead shortly after he had arrived.

According to doctors, Paletti died because the chest injuries had made it hard to breath. In addition, he was also poisoned because he had inhaled the chemicals inside of the fire extinguishers for too long.

In his memory, the race track located in Varano, Italy was renamed the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti.

Formula One Statistical Overview[]

Formula One Record[]

Year Entrant Team WDC Points WDC Pos. Report
1982 Osella Squadra Corse Osella-Ford Cosworth 0 NC Report

Career Statistics[]

Entries 8
Starts 2
Pole Positions 0
Front Row Starts 0
Race Wins 0
Podiums 0
Fastest Laps 0
Points 0
Laps Raced 7
Distance Raced 35 km (22 mi)

Career Results[]

Complete Formula One Results
Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Pts Pos
1982 Flag of South Africa 1928-1994.svg Flag of Brazil (1968–1992).svg Flag of the United States.svg Flag of San Marino.svg Flag of Belgium.svg Flag of Monaco.svg Flag of the United States.svg Flag of Canada.svg Flag of the Netherlands.svg Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Flag of France.svg Flag of Germany.svg Flag of Austria.svg Flag of Switzerland.svg Flag of Italy.svg Flag of the United States.svg 0 NC
Symbol Meaning Symbol Meaning
1st Winner Ret Retired
2nd Podium finish DSQ Disqualified
3rd DNQ Did not qualify
5th Points finish DNPQ Did not pre-qualify
14th Non-points finish TD Test driver
Italics Scored point(s) for Fastest Lap DNS Did not start
18th Classified finish (retired with >90% race distance) NC Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)
4thP Qualified for pole position [+] More Symbols

External links[]

V T E Teams and Drivers
1982 Teams and Drivers
Teams BrabhamTyrrellWilliamsMcLarenATSLotusEnsignRenaultMarchFittipaldiAlfa RomeoLigierFerrariArrowsOsellaTheodoreToleman
Engines Alfa RomeoBMWFerrariFordHartMatraRenault
Drivers 1 Piquet • 2 Patrese • 3 Alboreto • 4 Borgudd • 4 Henton • 5 Reutemann • 5 Andretti • 5 Daly • 6 Rosberg • 7 Watson • 8 Lauda • 9 Winkelhock • 10 Salazar • 11 De Angelis • 12 Mansell • 12 Moreno • 12 Lees • 14 Guerrero • 15 Prost • 16 Arnoux • 17 Mass • 17 Keegan • 18 Boesel • 19 De Villota • 20 Serra • 22 De Cesaris • 23 Giacomelli • 25 Cheever • 26 Laffite • 27 Villeneuve • 27 Tambay • 28 Pironi • 28 Andretti • 29 Henton • 29 Surer • 30 Baldi • 31 Jarier • 32 Paletti • 33 Daly • 33 Lammers • 33 Lees • 33 Byrne • 35 Warwick • 36 Fabi
V T E F1 drivers killed while racing
1952: Cameron Earl
1953: Chet Miller
1954: Onofre Marimón
1955: Manny Ayulo
1955: Bill Vukovich
1957: Eugenio Castellotti
1957: Keith Andrews
1958: Pat O'Connor
1958: Luigi Musso
1958: Peter Collins
1958: Stuart Lewis-Evans
1959: Jerry Unser
1959: Bob Cortner
1960: Chris Bristow
1960: Alan Stacey
1961: Giulio Cabianca
1961: Wolfgang von Trips
1964: Carel Godin de Beaufort
1966: John Taylor
1967: Lorenzo Bandini
1967: Bob Anderson
1968: Jo Schlesser
1969: Gerhard Mitter
1970: Bruce McLaren
1970: Piers Courage
1970: Jochen Rindt
1971: Ignazio Giunti
1971: Pedro Rodríguez
1971: Jo Siffert
1972: Jo Bonnier
1973: Roger Williamson
1973: François Cevert
1974: Peter Revson
1974: Helmuth Koinigg
1975: Mark Donohue
1977: Tom Pryce
1978: Ronnie Peterson
1980: Patrick Depailler
1982: Gilles Villeneuve
1982: Riccardo Paletti
1986: Elio de Angelis
1994: Roland Ratzenberger
1994: Ayrton Senna
2015: Jules Bianchi
See also: List of fatal accidents
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