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Roberto Moreno (Pierluigi Martini, Andrea De Cesaris)


Jordan-Ford 191 (Minardi-Ferrari M191, Jordan-Ford 191)




1991 Italian GP


Some talented men just cannot do right. Roberto Moreno is one of them. Why? Well, you're looking at the other end of The Swap... While the right end of the deal belonged to future superstar Michael Schumacher, the wrong end just had to be Moreno's.

Call him Mr. Sponsorless, The Nightmare Teams' Loverboy, Supersub or any which way you like, Roberto has always been everyone's second choice. Maybe the reason is to be found in Roberto's main vice: he just can't say no. From his ill-fated 1982 GP debut with Lotus to making up the grid at Forti, he has gladly accepted any offer to come his way, no matter how bad it was. Not even winning the F3000 championship in a sponsorless Bromley Motorsport-run Reynard made the impression he needed for a big team to sign him on. He drove for AGS, Coloni, EuroBrun and to top the humiliation after being run out of Benetton, Jordan and Minardi in just two months' time he even agreed to drive for Andrea Moda, the team which easily qualifies at the worst F1 effort ever (or is at least up there with Life and Kauhsen).

His unquestionable talent was done justice just once, when Benetton - for Benetton read his long-time friend Nelson Piquet - picked him up for the final two GPs of 1990 when Sandro Nannini had his arm severed by the rotor blade of his crashed helicopter. Then, suddenly, in a race of attrition Nelson and Roberto found themselves in a Benetton one-two at Suzuka, an accomplishment which brought Moreno to tears on the podium.

It gave him the full contract he was looking for, but then came Spa. With all the fuss surrouding Schumacher's sensational display the Benetton team even overlooked Moreno taking fastest lap in the race...

After the Andrea Moda disaster the Brazilian plummeted into touring cars, finishing up in the least competitive Super Touring championship on the continent, before making a brief F1 comeback at Forti.

Even in Indycars, Roberto stayed contented to play his Supersub part once more. In 1997, when replacing the injured Christian Fittipaldi at Newman Haas, he outqualified team leader Michael Andretti several times and still not picked up a competitive drive for 1998, instead accepting a mere testing role for Penske.

For a moment though, we thought Moreno had finally learned to do the hard thing, at the beginning of 1997 quitting the Payton-Coyne team for its lack of commitment. But in 1998 he had no trouble in accepting a couple of drives in Project Indy's year-old Reynard, the series' no-hoper. But then that team is run by Christian Danner, Moreno's brother in F1 luck...

Only in 2000, having subbed for Pat Patrick in the previous season, was Roberto granted a full-time seat. He made the most of it, leading the championship mid-way through the season before hitting a low patch and losing out to Gil de Ferran. Alas, 2001 proved to be a bitter experience for the Brazilian veteran, who just as his countryman "Big Mo" Gugelmin is without a drive for 2002.

Reader's Why by Charles Cossette

Poor Roberto Moreno! Just when he had hooked up with a top team (Benetton-Ford), he gets his seat stolen from under him.

After a less than brilliant start to his F1 career with AGS for the last two races of 1987, he surprised everyone by winning the 1988 F3000 title with little or no sponsorship. He then hooked up with Coloni-Ford in 1989 where another horrible season of only 4 starts followed. The next season ended up bringing Moreno a lot more joy than one would have imagined at the beginning of the year.

He switched teams again and started the 1990 season with EuroBrun. Again this was to prove to be a disaster. Luckily for Roberto, he was able to emerge as the one bright light in the terrible Alessandro Nannini tragedy. Nannini had his right hand severed (then re-attached) in a helicopter accident just before the Japanese GP. Benetton needed a replacement and Moreno's good friend Nelson Piquet suggested Roberto would be the ideal guy to replace Nannini on such short notice. This turned out to be a stroke of genius as Piquet and Moreno finished 1-2 in the Japanese GP. Moreno was ecstatic and crying on the podium. Moreno thus started the 1991 season alongside his good friend Piquet at Benetton. The results were not that flattering in 1991 with his two highest finishes being a pair of 4th places at Monaco and Spa.

After the Belgian GP, Flavio Briatore (with the help of Tom Walkinshaw) snatched Michael Schumacher away from Jordan where he had just made his GP debut. Poor Roberto was tossed aside by Benetton even though he had a valid contract in hand. He tried suing Benetton but to no avail. Eddie Jordan picked him up for the Italian GP where he qualified a very respectable 9th (ahead of teammate de Cesaris). Unfortunately he spun off on lap 2 of the race and retired.

He would race the next GP for Jordan (Portugese GP) and replace Gianni Morbidelli in the Minardi-Ferrari at the last race in Adelaide. He would be seen again in F1 in 1992 in the awful Andrea Moda-Judd and then go on to do some sportscar and Indycar races.