Ivan Capelli began his career as a kart driver, aged 15 years. Four years later, he joined the Italian Formula 3 Championship. In 1983, he won this championship after dominating the season with nine wins. Together with the team Coloni, he joined the European series, which he also was able to win in 1984.
In 1985, Capelli began in the European Formula 3000 championship with Genoa Racing March and was able to win a race. On October 6, 1985, he made his debut in Formula 1 as a driver for the Tyrrell team. His best result this year was the fourth place in the Grand Prix of Australia.
A year later, he won the Formula 3000 championship. Besides, he drove for BMW in the European Touring Car Championship and played in Formula 1, some races for the AGS team.
In 1987 Ivan Capelli played his first full season in Formula 1 at Leyton House March 1988 and reached behind Alain Prost second place in the Grand Prix of Portugal at Estoril. The 1988 March was built by chief designer Adrian Newey, the middle and late 1990s was responsible for the world champion cars, Williams and McLaren. The car was distinguished by excellent aerodynamics, but it was prone to bumps. Similarly, the Judd engines used were not reliable enough to allow more outstanding placements. So different Capelli example, in 1988 in Japan in second position with engine failure. His involvement with BMW in the European Touring Car Championship he sat with Team Schnitzer also continued.
After promising to finish the season in 1988 Ivan Capelli and March were considered an insider tip for podiums and even victories in 1989. Yet this season has been a disaster. Both the vehicle and the engine were not stable, and so the Italian retired in 14 of 16 races with technical defects from.
The 1990 season did not go as desired. Adrian Newey had the aerodynamics of the Leyton House ( the sponsor took over the naming rights to the vehicle) continued to improve, but the car was therefore very difficult to tune. Too much ground clearance that is needed on bumpy tracks, the car was very difficult to drive, and so both could not qualify Leyton House in Mexico. The next race on the very flat slope of Paul Ricard was the highlight for Capelli Leyton House. The car worked well and was so gentle with the tires at that Capelli and his team-mate Maurício Gugelmin could drive through without a pit stop. The two had long held a double lead before the Brazilians failed and Alain Prost caught up on Capelli. With three laps to overtake Prost was clearly superior in the Ferrari Capelli and remained so only rank two for the Italians. This was the last podium finish in the Formula 1 career of Ivan Capelli. In the next race at Silverstone he retired after spiffy ride and as the fastest man on the track in third place lying down with engine failure.
The 1991 season was marked by technical failures and reliability problems in Leyton House. Nevertheless, Ivan Capelli could emphasize with some highlights his talent further and was then taken for the 1992 season, Ferrari signed. In the last two races of the 1991 season Capelli renounced in favor of Karl Wendlinger, who could the financially troubled team Leyton House to assist with sponsor funds.
Planned as a great breakthrough of fast Italian Italian national pride Ferrari season was 1992 darkest time in Capellis career. The Ferrari F92A was not competitive and increasingly Capelli lost a motivation. Thus he got clear behind his team- mate Jean Alesi. After several accidents Capelli was sacked after the GP in Portugal by Ferrari and thus ended his Formula 1 career, more or less. His cockpit took Nicola Larini.
Although he played in 1993 two more races for the Jordan team, but after a failure in South Africa and one not qualified in Brazil announced Eddie Jordan Capelli, as the Italians the promised funds could not muster.
Ivan Capelli took part in a total of 93 Grand Prix, it reached three podiums and a total of 31 championship points during his career. His biggest success was the seventh World Cup place in 1988.
Capelli is one of the fastest Formula 1 drivers of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but he could never really prove it because of inferior material and translate them into results. The weak performance in the tradition Team Ferrari partially robbed him of faith in their own abilities and destroyed the essential for a racing driver confidence.