Michele Alboreto: loyal to MarlboroWritten by 'Αγγελος Φωτσεινός
Translated by Giannis Binas
In 1989, after 5 years with Ferrari (1984-1988), Michele Alboreto returned to Tyrrell, in the absence of a better choice.
Date of 1st publication: 20.03.2012
A breached verbal agreement on behalf of Sir Frank Williams had preceded in the end of September 1988, onto which, the Italian had ‘rested’.
Eventually, due to his personal sponsorship by Morlboro tobacco firm (which would cover his earnings), he found a place at the team that made him rise.
1989 however, wasn’t a good year for Michele.
Before the start of the season, he stated that the New Ferrari 640’s semi-automatic gearbox was a bad idea that would offer no advantage and he was glad to not drive the new car.
Ferrari’s win at the inaugural race of the year by the hand of his replacement, Nigel Mansell, contradicted his words…
His new course with Tyrrell though, wasn’t what he expected, as the lack of a principal sponsor was putting the teams’ financial – and racing – status at limited margins.
In any case, at the Mexican GP, he finished 3rd, behind the winner Ayrton Senna and 2nd Patrese.
That was the last podium he won during his big career in Formula 1.
Ahead of the French GP, Ken Tyrrell announced to Alboreto the team’s deal with Camel, asking from him to cancel his personal sponsorship with (rival tobacco firm) Marlboro.
He refused, staying loyal to Marlboro, and for that reason he immediately departed from the team, giving his place to a young French-Italian driver, named Jean Alesi.
But Marlboro was reserving another shock to the Italian, since, contrary to his expectations, not only didn’t secure him a seat at a team, but ended its cooperation with him.
In the end, Michele found a seat at Larrousse, from the German GP to the end of the year.
Certainly, Larrousse’s sponsor was no other than… Camel! An irony of fate or just a coincidence?