Known as 'the pirate', Bonetto was a fearless competitor who took no prisoners and was possessed of so much courage that some of his racing exploits placed him in the category of the foolhardy.
Known as 'II Pirata' (the pirate), Bonetto was a fearless competitor who took no prisoners and was possessed of so much courage that some of his racing exploits placed him in the category of the foolhardy.
He was already well known in Italy in the late thirties by his performances in his privately entered Alfa Romeo in the Mille Miglia, but did not come to the fore internationally until the late forties, first with Cisitalia and then with Ferrari, for whom he scored second places in the Mille Miglia and the Monza and Naples GPs in 1949.
The independently minded Felice campaigned the Maserati Milano and his own Alfa sports car to such effect that after winning the 1950 Oporto GP and leading the Mille Miglia in the Alfa, he was offered a works drive in 1951. He was very much the number three in the team, however, which did not go down too well, and he took the offer of a contract with Lancia to race their sports cars in 1952. This brought him perhaps his greatest triumph, in the Targa Florio. Despite his age Bonetto was more active than ever in 1953.
Undertaking a full season of Grands Prix for the first time with the Maserati works team and racing sports cars again for Lancia, he won the Portuguese GP in Lisbon and placed third in the Mille Miglia before competing in the gruelling Carrera Panamericana. He lay in second place to Taruffi when he was killed after skidding off the road and crashing into a lamp standard in the village of Silao.