Cesare Fiorio (born May 5 1939 in Turin, Italy) is a former Formula One sporting director for Ferrari, Ligier and Minardi, and former team manager of Lancia's factory World Rally Championship team. He is currently employed as a TV commentator. His son Alessandro "Alex" Fiorio became a professional rally driver.
Cesare Fiorio is the son of Sandro Fiorio, former chief of the public relations department of Lancia. He began racing with Fiat, winning the Italian GT championship in 1961. He also entered the Monte Carlo Rally, but the race ended with an accident; this was his only rally he competed in.
He obtained a degree in political science. Soon afterwards, in February 1963, he joined the Lancia management and established a racing team which he called HF Squadra Corse, which would become one of the most successful rally teams. Lancia was initially not keen on racing, and Fiorio wanted to change this attitude: he started preparing some Lancia Flavias, which entered many local rallies, obtaining some victories. In 1965, the team became a semi-works operation, and began hiring talented engineers to improve the Flavias; finally, in 1967, Ove Andersson won the Spanish Rally and Sandro Munari won the Tour de Corse.
In 1969, the team was moved to the Lancia factory to become its official motorsport department; that year the team won the European title with Harry Kallstrom, beating other manufacturers such as Alpine, Ford and Porsche. Soon afterwards, Fiat bought the Lancia company, but Fiorio was left at the head of the team. In 1972 Munari won the Monte Carlo Rally and the team won the International Championship for Manufacturers; the following year Munari won the European Rally Championship title. Fiorio then began to push Lancia to develop the new Stratos and managed to get a supply of Dino engines from Ferrari. The car proved to be successful and Lancia won the 1974, 1975 and 1976 World Rally Championship manufacturers' titles. At the same time Fiorio was an active powerboat racer, winning 31 races, six European and two World titles in his classes. Lancia was also involved in sportscar racing since 1979 with the Monte Carlo model, followed by the LC1 and LC2 prototypes; Lancia won the World Championship for Makes in 1981 and the program continued until 1985.
In 1980 Lancia even discussed building a turbocharged F1 engine for Toleman team but nothing came of this; rallying then remained the focus with the Lancia 037 model, which won the World Championship in 1983, followed by the Delta S4.
In 1984 Fiorio was appointed head of the sporting activities of Fiat, and got a place on the board of directors of Juventus F.C. in 1987. When Fiat bought Alfa Romeo in 1988, he was appointed head of Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo, the racing department of this marque.
In 1989 he debuted as sporting director of Ferrari, with the hard task of making the team competitive again after some disappointing seasons in the mid-80s; the team won the first race in Brazil with Nigel Mansell, and then again in Hungary and in Portugal, but poor reliability prevented the team from competing with McLaren and Williams. In 1990 Ferrari employed the reigning World Champion Alain Prost, and almost won the title, losing it at the Japan with the second of the infamous Prost-Senna collisions. Fiorio was sacked by Ferrari weeks before the beginning of the 1991 season, but only left after the team′s disastrous performance at the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix.
In 1994 he returned to Formula One as team manager of Ligier, then owned by Flavio Briatore, but he was released the following year when Tom Walkinshaw took over the team. He was briefly involved with the Forti team in 1996 until its demise mid-season, and then returned to Ligier and remained there until the team was taken over by Prost and became Prost Grand Prix. At the end of 1998 he joined Minardi as sporting director and he remained there until the middle of 2000 when he resigned after a disagreement with team owner Gabriele Rumi.
In 1994, Fiorio was appointed Cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana. He is currently employed by the Italian TV station RAI.
- Zapelloni, Umberto. Formula Ferrari. Hodder & Stoughton. pp. p. 17. ISBN 0-340-83471-4.