With the start of the new millennium, the hierarchies in Formula One are completely reversed: Ferrari, which for years has chased rivals Williams and McLaren, returns to success in 2000 after a close fight with the Woking team.
The following year, the Prancing Horse passes from sweaty victory to absolute domination, thanks to the formidable F2001, a single-seater born with new and revolutionary solutions, which immediately became the reference for the entire Circus, which, despite the new regulations designed to increase the lap times of the cars, they allow the new Red to become faster than the F1-2000 immediately, an aspect that leaves the entire paddock speechless.
Thanks also to Michael Schumacher's world-class driving, the second consecutive Drivers' title for the Kaiser and Ferrari arrives in Hungary, with four Grand Prix to spare. At the end of 2001, it is clear that the Maranello team enjoys an important technical advantage.
The Ferrari's rivals, however, aim to reduce the gap with the Italian car as soon as possible, aware of the enormous difficulty in completing such a feat. Winning the title with four Grands Prix to spare is an incredible show of strength, and with the fierce rival teams improving even more is even more complex, suggesting a potentially more competitive 2002 World Championship.
Despite this, once again it is Ferrari that plays a major role, and it does so overwhelmingly, because the new single-seater, the F2002, allows Schumacher to be crowned World Champion again with six races to spare.
The presentation amazes everyone
The F2002 leaves little doubt from the first kilometers travelled: on board the new car, Schumacher immediately crumbles the Fiorano track record, bringing the new limit to 58"620. The first figures immediately freeze the competition, because they highlight the goodness of the new born in Maranello.
At the presentation, the president of Ferrari, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo defines it as the most beautiful Ferrari ever, and you can breathe an awareness of your means that leaves little doubt about who the team to beat is.
In other words, the F2002 is scary, because with those few kilometers ground the car driven by Schumacher and Barrichello has already made a name for itself, sending a clear signal to the entire Circus: the reigning champion team has increased its advantage, and those who hoped for a hard-fought and tight year will be deeply disappointed.
The F2002 takes to the track for the first time in the 2002 World Championship during the third seasonal Grand Prix, that of Brazil: for the first two stages Jean Todt and Ross Brawn decide to focus on the excellent F2001B, which proves to be very competitive both in Australia than in Malaysia.
The idea is to provide more time to the test team, in charge of solving small problems related to the revolutionary gearbox in titanium casting, a work of extremely refined technology that has allowed a miniaturization of the rear axle in favor of aerodynamics and increased performance. which, however, needs some improvement from the point of view of reliability.
Unlike what one might imagine, the problems related to the new gearbox did not surprise the Ferrari technicians, who, on the contrary, immediately foreseen the need for longer times to be able to fine-tune the new micro-gearbox. seven gears with sequential control and electronic management, thanks to which the entire rear has been redesigned. Overall, the F2002 looks so futuristic, to the point that it makes its rivals' cars look old.
The tire issues
McLaren decides to switch to Michelin tires, trying to mask the clear difference in performance on equal terms with the Prancing Horse, which has remained loyal to Bridgestone. In Maranello, the idea is to remain the only reference team for Japanese suppliers, an aspect that has a considerable advantage: to forge relations with Bridgestone technicians by sending their technicians to Japan, establishing an unprecedented exchange of information, thus creating a sort of real collaboration between Ferrari and the Japanese tire supplier, an aspect that had a significant impact in the design phase. It's no secret to admit that the F2002 was built around Bridgestone tires, which helped designer Rory Byrne exasperate the concepts of the F2001.
Lightened frame and engine increasingly at the top
The significantly lighter frame houses the 051 engine, which is also considerably lighter, limited to 92 kg in weight. Great attention is paid to the optimization of the weight distribution and in the lowering of the center of gravity, guaranteeing a movement of 60/70 kg of ballast to find the best balance of the car on each circuit of the World Championship.
The V10 engine, designed by Gilles Simon and Paolo Martinelli, maintains incredible levels of reliability, while always guaranteeing excellent power values (a good 850 hp at the end of the season), and as if that weren't enough, the Italian engine guarantees very low fuel consumption, thus providing a clear advantage in terms of race strategy.
A year on parade, in the true sense of the word
In seventeen rounds of the season, Ferrari won fifteen times, eleven with Schumacher and four with Barrichello. These are frightening numbers, which testify and confirm the qualities of the F2002, born well, with no weaknesses, and full of unique innovations.
The performance of Ferrari in 2002 is unique, unprecedented, and the episode that definitively crowns a dream year arrives at the French Grand Prix: at the Magny-Cours circuit, Schumacher and Ferrari win the third consecutive Drivers' Championship, the fifth in his career for the German champion.
What is most impressive is that the title arrives six races in advance, in the month of July: it is an overwhelming result, a monstrous showdown, because never before had a rider closed the world championship game so far in advance. Not surprisingly, after the 2002 season the FIA will opt to change the scoring system, trying to reduce the difference in points won in a Grand Prix between the first and second classified.
The only shadow of the season at Ferrari concerns the episode that took place in Austria, when Jean Todt box forces Barrichello to let Schumacher pass: the Brazilian, who until then had driven undisturbed, slows down conspicuously a few meters from the finish line, leaving pass your teammate. The episode arouses strong disputes, especially given the superiority of Ferrari. Towards the end of the championship, an even more incredible episode takes place.
Without any team order, Schumacher, leader up to that moment of the United States of America Grand Prix, on the Indianapolis Circuit, spontaneously decides to slow down and let Barrichello pass, always a few meters from the end of the race, returning the favor to his teammate.
Unwittingly, the two Red drivers reach the finish line paired, separated by only eleven thousandths of a second, thus giving life to a real parade, all in red. A further demonstration of Ferrari strength, so superior that it allows its riders to swap positions on the track as they wish, without the slightest fear of being overtaken by the opposing teams.
Simone Pietro Zazza