In 1984, Fabi became the last active Formula One driver to race at the Indy 500, until Fernando Alonso in 2017.
Fabi was European Karting Champion in 1975 and followed that up with the European Formula Ford 1600 title in 1977.
Fabi competed in European Formula Three in 1978 for Forti Corse in a March-Toyota. He contested seven races for wins at Circuit Zolder, Dijon-Prenois and Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi. He finished fourth in points with 45.
Fabi then competed in European Formula Two in 1979 for March Racing in a March 792-BMW. His best finish was second at Circuit Park Zandvoort. He scored 13 points overall.
Fabi returned to the series in 1980 for the ICI Roloil Racing Team in a March 802-BMW. He scored three wins, at the Jim Clark Rennen at Hockenheimring, the Eifelrennen at Nürburgring and the Preis Baden-Württemberg at Hockenheimring. He qualified on pole at the Grote Prijs van België Formel 2 at Circuit Zolder and the Preis Baden-Württemberg at Hockenheimring, and set fastest lap in the latter on the way to a victory. Fabi ended the season third in points, with 38 points.
Fabi moved to Formula One in 1982, driving the #36 Candy Toleman TG181C-Hart 415T. The team had only qualified twice the previous year, and the season got off to a difficult start when the season-opening South African Grand Prix was disrupted by a drivers' strike. Under pressure from Toleman manager Alex Hawkinge, Fabi was the only driver to break the strike (Jochen Mass took no part from the start). His place was then jeopardised when Candy switched support to Tyrrell, but he saw out the season. The TG181C was uncompetitive and the team largely focused on lead driver Derek Warwick. This resulted in Fabi only qualifying for six races out of a possible 14. He qualified for the San Marino Grand Prix, due to the FISA-FOCA war which meant that only 14 cars attempted to qualify for the race. In the race Fabi finished seventh, eight laps down. Fabi qualified for the Belgian Grand Prix, starting and finishing twenty-first. He then failed to qualify at the Monaco Grand Prix before skipping both the Detroit Grand Prix and the Canadian Grand Prix. He failed to qualify at the German Grand Prix and the Caesars Palace Grand Prix. His best finish in the remaining races was twentieth at the Austrian Grand Prix, and he left Formula One at the end of the season.
Fabi's Indy car season in 1983 rekindled Formula One teams' interest. With help from Italian dairy company Parmalat, which insisted on having an Italian driver in the team, he joined MRD International in 1984 to drive the #2 MRD International Brabham BT53-BMW M12 as the number two driver to reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet. He also continued to drive in the CART/PPG World Series for Forsythe Racing and missed three Grands Prix. In those races his younger brother Corrado Fabi drove in his place. The mixed approach led to disappointing results in both categories and mid-season saw Fabi decide to concentrate solely on Formula One. Prior to the change, Fabi's best finish was ninth at the 1984 French Grand Prix and his best start was a sixth at the South African Grand Prix. His performances improved, including a strong run at Italian Grand Prix where he ran second behind Piquet in the first half of the race before retiring with engine failure, the major bugbear of Brabham during the year. Fabi scored points on three occasions, with a best finish of third at the Detroit Grand Prix and was twelfth in points with nine points.
Brabham dropped Fabi for 1985 and he initially struggled to find a team. His profile in Italy allowed him to rejoin Toleman (now heavily sponsored by the Benetton Group) when they belatedly joined the championship at the Monaco Grand Prix. Fabi drove the #19 Toleman Motorsports Group Toleman TG185-Hart 415T. The season got off to a late start because Toleman had lost their supply of tyres when Michelin pulled out of F1 at the end of 1984. They couldn't access Goodyear tyres and Pirelli would not supply them as they had broken a contract with the Italian company in mid-1984 and gone with Michelin. Benetton bought both Toleman and the Spirit teams and transferred Spirit's Pirelli contract to Toleman. The late start meant the TG185 was never truly reliable, but Fabi's speed lead to the marque's only pole position at the German Grand Prix at the new Nürburgring. Fabi's race was ruined when a slipping clutch meant he was well down the order at the end of the first lap. The team failed to score any points and Fabi only finished twice (even these races were disrupted by mechanical problems). 1980 World Champion Alan Jones who also used the Hart engine in his Haas Lola late in the season described it as "sending a boy to do a man's job" in F1 against the likes of Renault, Ferrari, BMW, Honda and TAG-Porsche. Fabi's best finish was twelfth at the Italian Grand Prix and Fabi would again go unranked due to not scoring points.
Fabi drove for Benetton Formula in the #19 Benetton Formula Benetton B186-BMW M12 after Toleman were fully taken over before the season to become Benetton, with powerful (1,400 bhp (1,044 kW; 1,419 PS) in qualifying) engines, and talented young Austrian Gerhard Berger joining. The Benetton was fast but fragile with difficult Pirelli tyres and Fabi often qualified better than he raced. He managed pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix but his best finish was fifth at the Spanish Grand Prix. He gain a reputation for being most competitive on faster circuits and struggling on slower, more technical courses. Both pole positions were at the two fastest circuits on the 1986 calendar, the Österreichring and the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. He ended the season fifteenth inpoints.
Fabi returned to Benetton Formula in 1987 to drive the #19 B187-Ford Cosworth GBA V6 and was joined by Thierry Boutsen. While the package wasn't as fast, it was more consistent, allowing him to score points on five occasions. The Ford V6 suffered from unreliability early in the season due to the use of higher turbo boost in an effort to keep up with the Honda powered cars from Williams and Lotus and the TAG engined McLarens. When the boost was reduced from around mid-year, reliability returned but speed was sacrificed. Fabi had a best finish of third at the Austrian Grand Prix, held at one of Fabi's favourite tracks, the Österreichring. During the season Benetton signed young Italian charger Alessandro Nannini for the 1988 season to partner Boutsen. In Fabi's final Formula One race, at the Australian Grand Prix, he took his frustration of not being able to find a drive for 1988 out on Boutsen, spending many laps deliberately blocking his teammate and not letting himself be lapped despite the blue flags and orders from the team to move over. When Boutsen confronted Fabi after the race, the Italian angrily told him to "come back and see me when you have a pole position". (Boutsen was third in this race, and ended his career following the 1993 season with three wins and one pole position). Fabi ended the season ranked a career-best ninth.
Fabi competed in 71 Formula One Grands Prix. He scored three pole positions, two fastest laps and two thirds in his career, scoring a total of 23 points.
Fabi joined the CART/PPG World Series in 1983 for Forsythe Racing in the #33 Skoal Bandit March 83C-Cosworth DFX. He made his Indy car debut at the Kraco Dixie 200 at Atlanta International Speedway. starting ninth and finishing twentieth after retiring after 41 laps due to suspension failure. At the Indianapolis 500 Fabi qualified on pole with a then-track record speed of 207.395 mph for four laps, and a one-lap record of 208.049 mph. In the process he became the first rookie to qualify on the pole position since Walt Faulkner in 1950. He led 23 of the first 47 laps before retiring during his second pit stop due to a broken fuel filter. Fabi was credited with twenty-sixth place and won the rookie of the year award. Fabi then qualified with pole position at the Dana Rex Mays Classic at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds Park Speedway and finished fourth. He won the Domino's Pizza 500 at Pocono International Raceway and then the Escort Radar Warnings 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He moved into second place in the championship behind veteran Al Unser, Sr.. He then won the Cribari Wines 300K at Laguna Seca Raceway and the championship was decided at the season-ending Miller High Life 150 at Phoenix International Raceway Fabi won pole position, led 138 of 150 laps and won the race to score 22 points. Unser finished fourth for 16 points and took the championship. Fabi won the series' rookie of the year award.
In 1984 Fabi returned with Forsythe Racing in their #33 Skoal Bandit March 84C-Cosworth DFX. He qualifed third at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the Streets of Long Beach and was second at the Dana Jimmy Bryan 150 at Phoenix International Raceway. He was eighteenth and nineteenth due to a crash at Long Beach and a blown engine at Phoenix. At the Indianapolis 500 Fabi qualified a disappointing fourteenth and retired in twenty-fourth place due to a fuel system failure after 104 laps and leading for 14 laps. His best finish was third at the Stroh's/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway. Following the Budweiser Cleveland Grand Prix at Burke Lakefront Airport Fabi left Indy car racing to concentrate on his Formula One season. Fabi ended his partial season twenty-fifth in points.
Fabi returned to Indy car racing in 1988 with Porsche Motorsports in their #8 Quaker State March 88P-Porsche Indy V8. The Porsche engine was less competitive than the Ilmor-Chevrolet and Cosworth engines. Despite the setbacks Fabi managed a best finish of fourth at the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix at Pennsylvania International Raceway. Fabi's return to the Indianapolis 500 was also disappointing as he qualified seventeenth and finished thirtieth after losing a wheel after 30 laps. He ended the season ranked tenth with 44 points.
In 1989 Fabi drove the #8 Quaker State March 89P-Porsche Indy V8. The engine and team began to compete regularly for wins with Fabi qualifying on pole at the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway and the Red Roof Inns 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where he led for 71 of 84 laps to get what would be his last Indy car victory. The engine also began to be competitive on the ovals, as highlighted by a second at the Marlboro 500 at Michigan International Speedway and a third at the Pocono 500 at Pocono International Raceway. At the Indianapolis 500 Fabi qualified thirteenth and again finished thirtieth after retiring due to ignition problems after 23 laps. After his Mid-Ohio victory Fabi moved into third place in points. At the final two races of the season, the Firestone Indy 225 at Pennsylvania International Raceway and the Champion Spark Plug 300K at Laguna Seca Raceway, Fabi retired due to handling issues at Nazareth and a crash at Laguna Seca. At the end of the seasonhe was fourth with 141 points.
Fabi returned with Porsche Motorsports in 1990 to drive their #4 Foster's/Quaker State March 90P-Porsche Indy V8. Prior to the start of the season Porsche was going to build an all carbon fibre chassis with their constructor March Engineering. In January Porsche's competitors voted against the use of the car and as a result Porsche had to use the year-old March 89P chassis. Fabi qualified seventh at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the Streets of Long Beach but finished tenth. A new March 90P was used at the Indianapolis 500 and Fabi started twenty-third but retired in eighteenth due to transmission problems after 162 laps. Fabi would later qualify on pole position for the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Denver.He led one lap but crashed after seven laps and finished twenty-seventh. Fabi achieved a best finish of third at the Marlboro Grand Prix at the Meadowlands at Meadowlands Sports Complex, and ended the season fourteenth in points. At the end of the season Porsche withdrew from Indy car racing so Fabi moved to the World Sportscar Championship in 1991 and won the championship.
In 1992 Fabi drove at the ITT Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit at Belle Isle Park to substitute for Mario Andretti who suffered injuries at the Indianapolis 500. He drove for Newman-Haas Racing in their #2 Texaco Havoline/K Mart Lola T92/00-Ford Cosworth XB. He qualified third and finished sixth.
Fabi moved to Hall VDS Racing for 1993 in the #8 Pennzoil Lola T93/00-Ilmor-Chevrolet Indy V8 265C, achieving a best finish of fourth at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the Streets of Long Beach. After the race Fabi was third in points, 10 points out of the lead behind Nigel Mansell and Mario Andretti. At the Indianapolis 500 Fabi started seventeenth and finished ninth. After Long Beach his best finish was sixth at the Marlboro 500 at Michigan International Speedway. During the year Fabi looked as if he might finish in the top ten in points but ended up eleventh with 64 points.
For 1994 Fabi drove for the re-organized Hall Racing (VDS Racing withdrew from the team following 1993) in the #11 Pennzoil Reynard 94i-Ilmor Indy V8. During the season Fabi's best finish was a trio of thirds, at the ITT Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit at Belle Isle Park, the Marlboro 500 at Michigan International Speedway and the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America. Fabi qualified twenty-fourth for the Indianapolis 500 and finished seventh, his best result in the race. He was ninth in points with 79.
In 1995 Fabi returned with Forsythe Racing in the #33 Combustion Engineering/Indeck Reynard 95i-Ford Cosworth XB. He had a best finish of third at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the Streets of Long Beach. At the Indianapolis 500 Fabi started fifteenth and finished eighth. Fabi won pole at the Miller Genuine Draft 200 at the Milwaukee Mile, led for 27 laps but finished fourth, two laps down. At the New England 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Fabi qualified second and led for 42 laps, only to finish twelfth, four laps down. He also started second at the Marlboro 500 at Michigan International Speedway, and finish fourth. He ended the season ninth with 83 points.
Fabi was unable to get a car to drive for 1996 as Forsythe Racing hired Indy Lights driver Greg Moore. He was to drive for PacWest Racing in their #18 Motorola Reynard 96i-Ford Cosworth XD to replace Mark Blundell, who was injured at the IndyCar Rio 400 at Autódromo de Jacarepaguá. He did compete in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the Streets of Long Beach and the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix at Nazareth Speedway. In both races he qualified nineteenth, and finished eighteenth at Long Beach. Blundell returned for the U.S. 500 at Michigan International Speedway and Fabi was withdrawn from the car. Fabi scored no points for the first time in his career and finished thirty-sixth.
Fabi competed in Can-Am in 1981 for Newman Freeman Racing in their #6 Budweiser March 817-Chevrolet V8. He took four wins, at Mosport Park (twice), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Laguna Seca Raceway. He finish second in points with 456 points.
Fabi began competing in the World Sportscar Championship in 1980 for Scuderia Lancia Corse in the #51 Lancia Beta Monte Carlo-Lancia 1.4L Turbo I4 for the Group 5 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Hans Heyer and Bernard Darniche. In the race, the car started twenty-sixth but retired after six laps with oil pump failure.
He returned to the series in 1982 for Martini Racing in the #51 Lancia LC1-Lancia 1.4L Turbo I4. Fabi would win the 1000km of Nürburgring at the Nürburgring with Michele Alboreto and Riccardo Patrese. Fabi also competed in the Group 6 class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same car with Alboreto and Rolf Stommelen. The car qualified fourth but finished thirty-fourth after retiring on their ninety-second lap due to engine failure. He ended the season ranked fourth with 66 points.
In 1983 Fabi drove the #4 Martini Porsche 956 in the #4 Lancia LC2-Ferrari 268C 2.6L Turbo V8. He won the 1000km of Imola at the Autodromo Dino Ferrari with Hans Heyer. The team eventually had involvement from Lancia and the car became a Lancia LC2-Lancia 268C 2.6L Turbo V8 and he drove this car in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Michele Alboreto and Alessandro Nannini in the C Class. The car started second but finished forty-sixth after retiring after 27 laps with gearbox failure. Fabi then drove the team's second car, #5 which started fourth and finished thirty-sixth after retiring after 121 laps due to fuel pressure problems. Fabi's win at Imola did not count towards the World Endurance Championship for Drivers and as a result he was unranked in the championship.
After the 1990 IndyCar season proved to be a backward step he returned to the series in 1991 with Tom Walkinshaw Racing/Silk Cut Jaguar in the #34 Jaguar XJR-12 and Jaguar XJR-14. Fabi won the Castrol BRDC Empire Trophy at the Silverstone Circuit with Derek Warwick. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the team's Jaguar XJR-12-Jaguar 7.4L V12 with Bob Wollek and Kenny Acheson for the C2 class. In the race the car started twenty-seventh and finished third with 358 laps complete. Fabi went on to win the World Endurance Championship for Drivers with 86 points.
Fabi competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Toyota Team Tom's in the #8 Toyota TS010-Toyota RV10 3.5L V10 with Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace in the C1 Class. They started fourth and finished eighth, with 331 laps completed, and fifth in class. Fabi ended the season twenty-seventh in points with eight points.
The 1993 24 Hours of Le Mans was held without a championship for points to go to after the collapse of the World Sportscar Championship and as a result the race was run as a standalone event. Fabi drove for Peugeot Talbot Sport in their #1 Peugeot 905 Evo 1B-Peugeot SA35 3.5L V10 with Thierry Boutsen and Yannick Dalmas in the C1 Class. They started and finished second overall, with 374 points, and were also second in class.
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)