He started 208 races in his Formula 1 career between 1980 and 1994, but never won a Grand Prix, a record for the most races without a win.
He drove for British-based team McLaren for one season in 1981 and also raced for teams including Jordan, Brabham, Dallara and Alfa Romeo.
De Cesaris won world championship points for nine of the 10 teams he raced for and finished on the podium five times.
In 1982, aged 22, he became the then-youngest driver to start a Grand Prix from the front of the grid after he took his sole career pole, with Alfa Romeo, at the US West round.
Following his F1 career, he raced in the Grand Prix Masters series for two seasons in 2005 and 2006 alongside veterans including Nigel Mansell, Emerson Fittipaldi and Ricardo Patrese.
photo credit: © 2014 Getty Images
text credit: © 2014 BBC