From Tuesday 11th to Friday 14th 2000, all formula 1 teams, that just came home from the Italian trip, for the Repubblica di San Marino Grand Prix, met at Silverstone for a test session, before the fourth round of the Championship, which will take place on the same track, for the British Gran Prix. Except for Ferrari, Prost, Minardi and Arrows, which will let their drivers drive alternatively, all the other teams will use two cars for the tests. These are crucial days specially to gain confidence with the electronic restrictions, which include the sensors that regulate the speed of the car through the pit lane. The purpose of the change during the season is to prevent riders from using traction control. Ferrari team principal, Jean Todt, the day after the third consecutive win of Michael Schumacher for the championship, in view of the tests on British soil, states that beyond the restrictive rules on electronics:
"Ferrari will have to work to maintain the reliability demonstrated to date. In particular, these electronic innovations could put our engines in crisis. There is still a lot to do to achieve the results we must expect, to be protagonists to the end. in such a difficult world championship".
In Silverstone, Barrichello and Schumacher will drive the F1-2000 alternately, meanwhile in Italy, Luca Badoer will work at both the Fiorano and Vairano circuit, to gain information about the restrictions:
“We have to do another improvement, such as past years, when we started the season on a low and we did progress to close the gap. I don’t know if the improvement will be as big as at the beginning of the season, since we have such a good car available, but something more, however, we will certainly get it, I am convinced. We already have some very promising news that we will try in the coming weeks on the track, or in the wind tunnel. In short, I am confident that our Ferrari can grow further ".
In particular, with direct reference to the next Silverstone appointment and news in the electronic field, the manager of Sports Management explains:
"It will be interesting to see what kind of effect these novelties will have. Worried? No, indeed: I think it is right".
And here’s the detail of a chat with Mosley:
"He explained to me why such a decision was reached. We have arrived at a sophistication such that it is now difficult to make a thorough inspection of the machines. So, it’s important to put us in an optimal condition to be able to perform these tests on electronics. The latter, you know, can help you find a particular performance, playing with some parameters. Making the electronics less sophisticated, performance will decrease. Just to check these changes we will do these tests this week".
Leaving aside the regulatory aspects, Todt does not forget the open game with McLaren:
"I never had any doubts about their potential. If anything, I’m terrified because in any race we might have problems. Here you can never take anything for granted. The road is still tough, but these three wins in a row will stimulate us to work even harder. Now we need to focus on the next appointment".
On the first day of testing, Rubens Barrichello presented with a large hematoma in the inguinal area of the right leg, bad memory of the problem he had in Imola with the seat belts. The Brazilian, however, is ready to get back in the car, as he himself had pointed out before leaving Imola. Rubens has a well-defined goal in the head, to stand up to Michael Schumacher, undisputed ruler of the first three seasonal releases:
"Everyone in life has what they deserve, and if Michael has reached certain levels, it has happened because he has worked so hard, and well, for many years. Now the time has come for him to reap the fruits, but I too have made many sacrifices, and others I am willing to make more to reach ever higher. It’s nice to know that I’ll have to confront him, who is now number one, in order to aspire to certain results".
With regard to the problem accused by the Paulista on Sunday, Ferrari says that the exact cause was a buckle not sufficiently tight, which was then completely relaxed after Barrichello had tried to solve the trouble in the race. The belts were fine. In contrast to Schumacher’s victories, Rubens had to deal with reliability problems in Brazil, and the boredom just described at Imola. Nevertheless, the Ferrarist wants to continue to think positive:
"I know I can still say my part in the World Cup. The important thing is not to give up, and I never give up. To become the best I have to beat Michael, my partner: there could not be a greater stimulus".
During the first day of work at Silverstone, to get familiar with the new restrictions, here is that curiously the speedometer to check the speed at the pits, seen for example in Jaguar, on the car of Eddie Irvine. In reality, it seems that all the teams adapt quite easily to the new features: the engines keep the minimum well, the Benetton Supertec is regulated even at 3,800 rpm; the Ferrari at 3,950.
The same cannot be said for the drivers, who several times lock in and out of the pits regardless of the level of experience, given that disadvantages of the kind captain is to some more experienced as Olivier Panis, Mclaren test driver, that to the very young like Jenson Button on Williams. First day of test devoted almost entirely to these news, because the bad weather does not give rest until late afternoon. On a wet track, among the drivers engaged the fastest is Barrichello, who runs in 1'35"377 and completes forty-two laps, working as far as possible on the set-up of his Ferrari. For the Brazilian, who says he had no problems of any kind with the bruise in the leg, even a spin without consequences.
Meanwhile, at Fiorano, Luca Badoer worked hard on both the 12th and the 13th of April 2000 to adapt the F1-2000 in the best possible way to the new electronic limitations. Engine gasping, departures that leave little illusions, laps to the small trot, a continuous change of gears from the first to the seventh and vice versa. Long pit stops followed by fleeting appearances on the track, a few laps at a time. All seasoned by rain. In short, for the former driver of Minardi an intense day at the wheel of the car with the body number 198, which at Imola had acted as a forklift. The best time was achieved in the morning of April 13 with the dry track, in 1'02"816, while the wet Badoer marks a time of 1'08"309. In total fifty-three laps, with the end of the tests only at eight twenty. Waiting to take the place of Panis, Mika Hakkinen can say that he took off a weight from his stomach after finally conquering the first points of his season in Imola, where finishing in second position he gained six points:
"Being able to finish the race at Imola was a good thing: during the Grand Prix the car was fast enough to win, and being able to travel over three hundred kilometers suggested me some ideas to improve it".
The optimistic vision of the World Champion certainly cannot disregard the umpteenth trouble, this time of electronics, which risked to leave him still on foot in the middle of the race. But also the fact that on this occasion his ten cylinders is back to work is interpreted by Mika as a positive signal:
"Sure, I could have won, but I also have to keep in mind that I could still stay at zero. When the engine went down my heart jumped in my throat, I immediately thought it was over. On the other hand I knew that this would be a difficult season, but now we can at least enjoy a decent reliability".
The failures in series happened in this very early part of the season have obviously left some aftermath. Ron Dennis, for example, had no difficulty in admitting, urged by those who asked him why Hakkinen had not attacked more decisively in the crucial moments of the race, than when he was targeted by problems, as happened to Mika, The umpteenth inconvenience is understandable that there may be some psychological reluctance to attack deeply. Another sentence that leaves some doubt is the one that the reigning World Champion pronounces to explain why after the defeat of Interlagos he renounced the tests of Silverstone, held a few days later by the stable of Woking:
"I did not participate in the last practice session because it was too cold at Silverstone and under such conditions I would not have been able to get any useful information. I go to practice, but only if it is useful to the development of the machine, certainly not to train my body".
The bad mood that reigns at Mclaren can only be driven away by a victory, which would be even more valuable if conquered at Silverstone, on the home track of the team. Hakkinen has a clear objective:
"Twenty-four points are many, especially because beating a guy like Schumacher is not easy but I do not discourage, now that there is an acceptable reliability, we have to do everything to end up in front of Michael as soon as possible. In these days at Silverstone, we will have important news with which to try to pull out all the potential of our car".
The driver of McLaren, despite the three victories of Ferrari, on the other hand is not at all convinced that the F1-2000 is superior to his MP4/15, indeed:
"In close comparison the McLaren was slightly faster, at least until the step below broke".
Schumacher, who returned to the track where on July 11, 1999, at 14:03, suffered the most serious injury of his career, which cost him the opportunity to fight for the title 1999. So perhaps the German will see some ghosts retracing the Stowe curve, where the accident occurred. To understand how he is preparing his return on this track, may be useful the words of two drivers who lived on their skin that incident: Eddie Irvine, his former teammate from 1996 to 1999, and Oliver Panis, also a victim of a serious accident in Montreal in 1997, in which he reported the fracture in both legs. Irvine has no doubts, and explains:
"But what a problem. I don’t see any, for him it’s like another circuit. After all, nothing happened to him, he just broke his leg. It happens to many. No need to exaggerate a fracture".
Less definitive, but substantially on the same line, Oliver Panis:
"For me Schumacher’s trouble was double. Yet, I’m sure Michael will be quiet here. After the crash in Canada, I filmed at Magny-Cours. Yes, I had some doubts. I said to myself: if I pass the first curve flat, it will mean that nothing happened. It was like that. As the fractures have risen, so in my mind there is no trace of that fearful incident. At Magny-Cours, after three laps on good times, I went back to the box thinking: yes, it’s all back to normal. This does not mean that we pilots are Martians. It is not so. But after an accident the recovery phase becomes for us a period in which we take great care of our body, we rebuild it day after day, we recover the forces, the form, the balance. Everything as before. Indeed, better, because there is more anger. Remember Michael in Malaysia? That’s why the appointment that awaits here Michael, the first and all the subsequent steps to the Stowe will not represent anything special. That’s what he said. But yes, maybe as I did in Montreal, going back to the same spot the first time, in the verification lap of the car, at low speed, a look will give it. But it will be a moment. Then, from the next passage, open gas, he will feel that everything is in place, in him and in the car. And he will not think about it anymore".
The interested party replied as follows:
"I feel much stronger today than I used to. What happened to me last year in England is an accident that could have occurred anywhere, because when you have a brake problem the name of the track counts little".
The fear of not being the same as before surpassed him about forty days after the fear, going back on his Ferrari at Mugello and getting immediately some important times. Now, he can also smile and look optimistically at Silverstone, a circuit on which he has also already won, in 1998, following a masterful performance in the rain, and the controversial stop&go taken for granted during the last lap after cutting the checkered flag.
Meanwhile, from Geneva, while the drivers continue their work in Britain, news leaks of a resounding back-pedalling by the Federation regarding restrictions on electronics. Nothing official, except that just received the rumor the mechanics begin to disassemble warning leds, speedometers embedded in the steering wheel and other frivolities. The tests are also characterized by two curious episodes: at the green light, Jacques Villeneuve overwhelms an ill-fated fox that is just in trajectory at the Copse curve; then, just before 17:00, the end of the tests is marked by red flags that no one, among those who are on the track, can then explain. Finally, a hail storm forces everyone to lower the shutters of the pits and return to the hotel. Barrichello, on the second and last day of testing, still focuses on the set-up, but only with rain tires, and at the end of the session he says:
"A good day, although the wet track never allowed me to run with a perfectly dry background. Only in the second to last exit I could use, but without pushing, grooved tires, while in the last one I was stopped by the red flag".
The fastest time was set by Ralf Schumacher, who turned 1'30"288, ahead of Pedro Diniz on Sauber, and Barrichello. On April 13, 2000 the indiscretion becomes official. The FIA restores the speed control in the pit lane, but the other restrictions implemented - the changes to the parameters on the valves butterflies, the position of the electronic accelerator and more - will remain in force. Regardless of the turnaround, not all the stables manage to adapt with the same speed to the umpteenth change. In fact, if in top teams like Ferrari and Mclaren there are about fifty technicians who deal with electronic programs, in smaller teams these are just three. For the latter, therefore, more time is needed to complete the work. In any case, the test day could certainly not be wasted. Michael Schumacher, who takes the place of the Brazilian, dominates as he likes, records good times, completes fifty laps and at the end of the session declares:
"Ferrari is doing very well. We tried wet and dry. I think we will be competitive in the Grand Prix too. It was very difficult to try because there were always red flags that broke the rhythm".
On the speed limiter, it says:
"I am very happy. This return improves safety. The abolition of that control introduced certain risks that it was absurd to run with so much technology. In 2000 it is unacceptable to take steps back: Barrichello told me that he risked a contact because focused on the steering wheel to watch the speed, while a commissioner, not seen, signaled him to stop immediately. Imagine the episode of Rubens in the wake of Coulthard in Imola: the collision would have been certain. In addition, there are younger pilots, accustomed to using it forever, who without this device would have been in great difficulty. I am satisfied".
Already focused on running?
"Not yet, but I’m getting there. Besides, I was influenced by the accident. But the concentration will reach the right level next weekend".
The incident to which the German driver refers is the one in which Ricardo Zonta runs around 11:15 am, just at the Stowe corner, the same where he crashed the ferrarist. The driver of the BAR comes out unscathed from the multiple overturning of his car, exit of the track in the meadow in front of the central grandstand. According to Craig Pollock’s team technicians, the cause was the failure of the right front suspension. Back in the pits from the hospital, Zonta walks with difficulty and expresses himself in monosyllables, stretching his right hand with the base of the index index hinged:
"I’m fine, but it was terrible. I was trying the last specification of the engine that Honda provided us and I was able to achieve excellent progress in the few laps run under the flood. A pity because the car was perfect. The cut? I procured it trying to get out from under the car that landed upside down. If it rains, I’ll turn again, otherwise it will be Villeneuve".
After seeing the images of the accident, Schumacher says that he rushed with his brother Ralf on the spot, and then went to the hospital to wish Zonta a speedy recovery, to whom he says:
"It’s like they gave you a second life".
With journalists, instead, he talks about the dynamics of the accident and what he felt at that time, in reviewing the images:
"The footage from the circuit manager’s implant was a shock. I saw the BAR lose the right front wheel at the detachment of the Hangar and turn off track several times, capottando. When the nose of the car was near the protective tires, the car soared, made a turn again and flew over the protections landing upside down. Awesome. Zonta was lucky, nothing more than a small wound. The safety of the cars is good. And the circuit, at that point, has been improved. It means we can stop here and look around before we ask for more improvements. Today and for a few days Charlie Whiting is in America but we are already in touch to understand together how to proceed in view of the next Grand Prix".
Was it the plastic cover around the tires that triggered the spike?
"No, it started a moment earlier, caused by friction on the gravel. The new solution was of great help to save Zonta. For other changes before the Grand Prix I will have to talk to Whiting. It is not heavy work, details: I think it will be possible".
With such modifications would this incident have been less serious?
"I don’t know. Certainly, the tires are very close to the concrete wall".
Then Michael asks those present:
"But at that point, just beyond the net, there are people during the Grand Prix?"
The answer is no, only a few commissioners because the spectators are on the stands. He replies:
"Good, otherwise it would have been a massacre".
Same place: other similarities between his crash and Zonta’s?
"None. Rather it reminded me of the crash of Brundle in 1996 in Melbourne, when the car took off; then I remember the accidents of Patrese and Fittipaldi. I observe that today there are many fewer takeoffs of cars. However, in those situations the disaster has been touched. If, for example, a tire had detached from the car in flight would have been very serious".
Moved to Vairano following the tests of Fiorano, Luca Badoer works with the sixty F1-2000 covering fifty-four laps, for a total of two hundred and twenty kilometers. Change of circuit due to the fact that the peculiarities of the circuit are comparable to a natural wind tunnel, useful to confirm the data collected experimentally. Badoer’s program includes another day of testing in Pavia, and then return to Fiorano where he will have to perform routine checks on the cars that will be used for the race weekend.
On April 14, 2000, the last day of testing, the test session on British soil does not start well for Ferrari, which in a Grand Prix simulation with Michael Schumacher, must stop on the first lap for an electrical failure. At the end of the day, however, the German driver smiled, as he had the best time of the day in 1'25"480. The ferrarist is also the only one to complete a simulation with the new electronics with the three sensors less. Three stints of twenty laps, interspersed with long checks, with Michael waiting to check the times of the other drivers. Under the same conditions, the Ferrari is impregnable, the Mclaren instead does not shine for consistency of performance neither with Hakkinen than with Coulthard. The test driver Panis is faster than the two drivers, an interesting fact, due to the fact that the French driver drove with the latest evolution of the Mercedes engine, which is assumed, will make his appearance during the British Grand Prix.
Before returning to Silverstone, the drivers can enjoy a few days off, as well as Luca Badoer, who, on 15 April, decides with a short test in Fiorano the two F1-2000 to be sent to England (the forklift is approved only the following Thursday). The single-seater of Barrichello, (the body number 199) is tested in the morning, with ten laps completed without any hitch; that of Schumacher (body number 200), always accomplishes ten laps in the afternoon. After that, four simulations of fuel refueling, but no change of tires. Apparently, for the mechanics of the Red something to improve in the specific operation.
At the end of the works, Ferrari left the Modena track to Minardi, who experimented with a new titanium gearbox that will bring a significant saving in weight. An important change, however, will not be seen at Silverstone, but will be taken the week after, at the tests in Barcelona. In the fourteen laps performed (1'03"990 the best) by Mazzacane there is a considerable increase in torsional stiffness, and an improvement in the data related to the driveability and acceleration coming out of the curves.
On Monday the 17th of April 2000, in the usual hotel at the airport of Heathrow, a meeting takes place between the FIA and the teams to finally reach a meeting point as far as electronics are concerned. Not surprisingly, the meeting is attended by the heads of the electronic department of each team, whose goal is to restore the software, or at least suspend the policy of the Federation of continuous changes during the season.
In London the weather is not the best: it is cold, there is even some snow in the area of Silverstone and a climate that does not suit a Formula 1 race. It remains a mystery because the most important of the British races, which has always been held in July, this time it was scheduled in April, with all the unknowns about the weather conditions. However, this did not prevent the start of the work requested by Schumacher on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, at the Stowe curve, the scene of the terrible accident of Ricardo Zonta. To improve safety, a row of tyres is added in height and two in width, for a total of five.
As for the software issue, the automatic speed limiter in the deceleration lane at the pits can also be used at Silverstone, where in practice the limit will be 60 km/h, and in race of 80 km/h. This is only on the condition that, at the same time, the rear light starts to flash when it rains and that, at the same time, the hatch is opened that gives access to the nozzle where the fuel is placed. In this way, the FIA believes that if the speed limiter is used in turns as traction control, it will be immediately unmasked by the flashing and the flap. For the rest, everything remains as had been set by the FIA in the mid-March circular. Only in the future will further limitations be introduced on exchange and differential electronics. Three days later the teams are back at Silverstone to take part in the British Grand Prix. And Michael Schumacher obviously thinks about winning poker:
"Why not, I consider it within my reach, like pole position. I will run to win. In the first three Grands Prix we have different circumstances. But I have always been competitive. And in Imola I saw that I fought with the opponents. On the other hand the margin of advantage is such that I would settle for the six points of the second place. Fans do not fear. I absolutely aim to win the Grand Prix. Tests have told me that the Ferrari is strong".
The Mclaren has shown fast, but for the moment not winning:
"It is slower or less reliable: I am surprised after what I had seen in the past years. I hope it will be repeated, even if in the tests they went well. At Imola we also won because we had different tires. We, for now, are the best. At least to make the most of all the opportunities. The game remains open. I’m still missing many races and many points to reach the mathematical certainty of the World Cup. I’m always motivated even without forgetting the points, which are never enough: I remember all the runs up to the last race, the formidable one of 1994. No superiority complex: I will face every race with the same preparation, until the end".
The only problem remains the fast lap in qualifying:
"It’s always better to start from the front row. But in the end Ferrari wins. That’s not the problem. It is in what can happen with too many cars around, when you part back the possibility of accident, to damage a wheel is very high. I don’t fear the confusion: I observe that it is dangerous. Pole lifts you from all these hassles that can have a significant weight in every race. It’s easier to win a Grand Prix from the front. Even at Silverstone I’ll do anything for pole position. But I tried even before: something, small or big mistakes had always slowed me down at the right time. I am serene, even if I will not succeed, it seems to me that the Ferrari has shown how it is possible to win even if it starts from behind".
And on Rubens Barrichello, after his three Grand Prix in Ferrari, he comments:
"Fast, as I expected. He is very good. Unfortunately, he did not manage to finish his home Grand Prix, for him it was hard. In Imola he had a trivial problem. I’m sorry: I’m sure Ferrari would have hit more doubles. We work well together; it is of great help to the team. It is fast, but luckily not even more than me. I knew it would go well with this Ferrari. We’ll see in the future if he can beat me".
Regarding the Brazilian driver, technical director Ross Brawn reveals a background on the Imola race:
"The other Sunday we mistakenly put in the car of Barrichello, at the stop, an excessive amount of gasoline, so much so that he finished with twenty liters more than due, and at each lap lost three-four tenths. It was because of the time system we use for refueling".
Brawn also speaks about electronics and changes:
"In practical terms, stopping a certain type of electronics will not lead to any difference in driver driving nor to the performance of the machines. However, lacking the automatic control of the carburetion, the consumption will increase a little, not much, at least for us. And contrary to what some colleagues think, I believe that there will be no increase in breaks".
The Ferrari suggests that it feels rather quiet, in addition, the F1-2000 are brought few obvious changes, mostly adaptations to the circuit. Even the engines are the same as Imola: one upgraded for qualifying and one standard for the race, with three hundred laps of maximum rotation difference. If the Maranello team approaches the weekend with certainty, on the Mclaren-Mercedes front there are thick fogs. It is difficult to know if the V10 engine tested last week, and that will be mounted on the MP4/15, is a new version or an evolution of what competed in the first three races. According to internal voices in the paddock it seems that we have worked on reliability, rather than performance. The first question to be asked to Norbert Haug, the great head of Mercedes, is: what happens if on Sunday Michael Schumacher drops poker? Will Mclaren have to surrender? Haug replies:
"No way. Remember what happened in 1998? Hakkinen after Monte Carlo had 22 points on Schumacher, yet the two arrived at the penultimate race of the World Championship, that of the Nürburgring in parity and, moreover, in qualifying the Ferrari drivers occupied the first row. Then in the race Hakkinen took flight and no one saw him anymore. This is not the first time that we have been in a delicate phase, and we have shown that we know how to resolve them. Hakkinen has hit all the pole positions so far and Coulthard started twice in front of Michael. Not only that: in Imola if Barrichello had not kept him behind for a long time, even David could have fought for success".
And Mika Hakkinen, on a possible fourth consecutive victory of the Ferrari driver, says:
"For us the important thing is to win the title, not so much the individual stages for which it would not be a tragedy if even here had to win Schumacher".
A success that, the Finnish warns, Schumacher will have to sweat:
"Michael was pretty quick in practice last week, but I’m not at all worried about that: I don’t know what condition his Ferrari was in, for type of tires and amount of fuel, but I know what my Mclaren was in and I’m cool".
This even if the tests of the previous week did not leave him fully satisfied:
"True, I wasn’t 100% happy with the balance of my car because time and track changed all the time and we did too few laps in the dry, But that doesn’t mean we won’t be competitive this weekend because there’s enough time to adjust the car. I can not guarantee that mine is the best Formula 1, but I know the professionalism of the people who work in the team and I remain confident".
Mika admits that defeats left a sign:
"When you reap less than you sow, you feel a sense of frustration. Anyway, my philosophy is to always look forward in a positive way".
Friday, April 21, two days before Easter, a torrential rain welcomes the drivers for the first two free practice sessions. Pat Symonds, Benetton’s technical director, summarizes the day as follows:
"It’s been at least 2,000 years since she had such a bad Friday".
The decision to anticipate the Grand Prix in April proves to be unholy: Silverstone sinks into the mud, the drivers go to the fields on board the cars, the organizers suffer considerable economic damage because the police force them to close the parking lots, condemned for the mud, and refund the tickets to those who will not be able to reach the racetrack. The accounts are soon done: for the qualifications of Saturday were sold forty thousand coupons and about twenty thousand parking spaces, with prices ranging from twenty to sixty-five pounds; if at least a quarter of the fans did not feel up to the appeal, Either on foot or by car miles away, the Autodromo should return the money. Michael Schumacher, who stayed at the pits during the first half hour of free practice, spared from the flood, runs only on wet track, and it is only twentieth. The German is peremptory:
"Two hours of waste of time, these free trials have served no purpose. With the water so high, it is useless to talk about setups. It would have taken a tractor. A track that does not drain, where the water remains very high, where you do not recognize even the driver who is in front of you or do not understand if the gap is ten or a hundred meters".
Schumacher’s attack was reinforced during an evening meeting with Whiting, the race director, in which all the drivers participated. The Ferrarist and Hakkinen, the most illustrious spokesmen, have no doubts: in their opinion, if the rain is of such intensity, the Safety-Car will be necessary. Then away with the examples. Schumacher tells:
"At a certain point I was behind Herbert, who struggled to keep his Jaguar on track. If he went spinning, I would have ended up on him".
No less dramatic is Hakkinen:
"In some places you see nothing. When you realize that you are wrong, it is too late. We hope that nothing bad happens in the race".
Jacques Villeneuve was about to overwhelm Coulthard, standing on the sides of the track with the jeep that had to tow him away bogged down on the grass:
"I found him suddenly, I saw him before yellow flags, if he was in the middle of the track, I would have caught him in full".
"With Coulthard still, it took them six minutes to suspend rehearsal, I missed the flags. To me the rain can also go well, reduces the gap with the strongest, but here in straight line, at 200 km/h, you go in waterplaning".
But Ron Dennis defends the organizers and attacks the FIA:
"Do you want the race unpredictable? Here it is served. In April here it is always like this. What are the culprits of the organizers who spent billions on security?"
In addition to the subject of rain, Coulthard and Villeneuve brought to Whiting’s attention the start of the San Marino Grand Prix of Schumacher, where the Ferrarist had closed the trajectory at Coulthard to avoid being overtaken. Maneuver not particularly liked by the Canadian, supported in his attack also by Coulthard and Irvine. After the opinion of all the drivers, the only Alesi lined up in favor of Schumacher; anyway, everything ends with a joke by Ralf Schumacher, which brings good mood in the room. Going back to the free practice, Ferrari uses by force of things set up with wings at the highest incidence, and towards the end of the second session Barrichello runs with a completely wet set-up. Schumacher, on the other hand, does so only in the last few laps, preferring first a very loaded aerodynamic set-up, but a compromise on mechanical adjustments.
With such an uncertain climate, according to Rubens Barrichello, the candidates for pole and victory increase: besides Ferrari and Mclaren, in fact, we will have to consider the Jords, the Benetton of Fisichella, or even the Jaguars of Irvine and Herbert. The Brazilian still aims for pole position, regardless of the track conditions. And if Schumacher is shipwrecked in the rain and very little turns, he does what he has to do, even if at the end of the day he is seventh in the total count of the times. Rubens declares that:
"I did really well in the wet, I did not take unnecessary risks, because more than the fast lap I was looking for the feeling with the car. I couldn’t work properly at first because of a hydro-driving problem. In the end, track conditions became almost impossible, but the Ferrari had already improved a lot. It was important to run with lots of water, because there is the risk that the rain will continue for the race. The tires can be a question mark because with the water here the temperature drops, and the tires do not heat. For the pole it will be decisive to guess the exits. A lightening, a slight improvement of the asphalt, are situations to be exploited to the maximum. Ralf Schumacher threw himself on the track with the grooved tires at the beginning, in a truce of rain. His 1'30" would have been enough, if the flood had arrived soon after, instead of in the last minutes. The car satisfies me, with a bit of luck and with the right time choice I see myself in the first position. After all I took my first pole, in '94 at Spa with Jordan-Hart, under similar circumstances".
On Saturday, Rubens' good feelings were reflected during the qualifying session. The Brazilian took pole position, with a time of 1'25"703, leaving just three thousandths the Jordan of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and thirty-eight thousandths Mika Hakkinen, who composes the second row together with his teammate Coulthard. Michael Schumacher observes the other Ferrari from a distance, in fifth position, flanked by the young Williams driver Jenson Button. After the flood that also accompanies the morning practice, during the qualifying is an intermittent rain that characterizes the session that sees the bleak empty grandstands, with only twenty thousand spectators against the forty thousand expected.
On the fourth lap of the first run, Schumacher got the third time behind the provisional poleman Frentzen, and his brother Ralf. Shortly after Hakkinen arrives, who with a time of 1'29"638 marks the first time. But during the second run, in the middle of the session, it is Barrichello who leads the ranking. Then, with the tyre of the track, Coulthard establishes the new limit, but he is immediately beaten by Jacques Villeneuve, who is still knocked out by the same Scottish, who runs on 1'27"874.
At eighteen minutes from the end there is again Schumacher, who re-establishes the hierarchies and lowers the time by half a second. Five minutes pass and Hakkinen arrives, who is better than only ninety-five thousandths. But the evolution of the track is such that in the last minute everything changes: first Irvine, then Jos Verstappen, then Frentzen, but at the end comes Rubens Barrichello, who becomes the first driver to take pole position as Michael Schumacher’s teammate. A pole dedicated to those who love him:
"To those who believed that until now I had only had bad luck with Ferrari, that I could also be a winner, that having the same car as Schumacher I can achieve great results".
But also to those who love him badly:
"Like in Brazil, where someone wrote that I broke the Ferrari, a car that always reached the finish line before I got on it. Now people will take me more seriously, because this is a pole on the dry, real, not impromptu like those on the wet Spa in '94 and Magny Cours last year, maybe brilliant, definitely lucky".
And to those who always talk about Schumacher:
"Is there a problem if I win? Does it bother you? Everyone asking me what I’m going to do for Michael: if he was seventeenth and I first, what should I do, stop and wait for him? Why does his position matter more than mine? Montezemolo complimented me. He told me: go and win. And I will go, hoping to make a good start. And asking God for help".
A beaming man, floating in the clouds:
"I have something inside that bites me, that doesn’t let me know what to do. They are on pole with Ferrari, a great result, in a circuit where it is difficult to overtake. This is the first time I’ve had a real shot at winning a race. I want to jump for joy, but then I say: calm down, there are three hundred kilometers of running, a very long Sunday, with the rain announced. Tonight I have to sleep quietly. For the holidays there is time".
But the company remains:
"I’ve never taken a ride like this, the fastest of my life, beautiful, perfect. I had a great time".
Then he is reminded that this is the first time that a Schumacher’s teammate has taken pole:
"Really? I didn’t know. It will be thanks to my amulet. My sister Renata. It was present at Interlagos, and there it went wrong, but in the past it had always brought me luck. Only that she worked a lot and since '96 she had never been able to come to a Grand Prix. To help me took two weeks off. There will also be in Barcelona".
That’s why he hugged her so long at the end of qualifying, before a huge kiss to his wife Silvana.
"When you’re radiant, you can’t control yourself. It’s the first time in my life that I’m competitive. I leave the group".
For many these qualifications were a lottery. What was your worst moment?
"I trembled several times. When I was seventeenth and I thought: if it starts to rain, it’s over. Then when I was eleventh. But the worst, paradoxically, was when the pits told me that I was on pole. Cynical, on the radio: good, but there is still Hakkinen. And I to hold my breath, until I saw the yellow flags. Then I realized it was done".
Speaking of Hakkinen, the Finn let him pass with great fairness while Barrichello was in the middle of his fast lap:
"I thank him, he did not make me lose even a penny. It is difficult to find such a correct driver. Others are clever: first they hinder you, then they apologize and say: I have not seen".
This year those who started pole have never won.
"It’s not a guarantee. But so is Ross Brawn, the strategist. President Montezemolo was proud of me, I will not betray the trust of my fans and Ferrari. This pole is just a stage, the beginning".
Barrichello, are you wearing lucky red underwear?
President Montezemolo, who arrived at Silverstone just before the start of qualifying, is literally radiant at the end of the session. There is, however, to record a Schumacher in difficulty:
"True, but there’s a Ferrari in the lead and beating our opponents at home is exciting. I’m very happy, Barrichello deserved such a result. He was looking for him, he wanted him at all costs, we did not take him to be a tourist, for him it will be a great injection of confidence. For Schumacher nothing is compromised, the race is long, let’s see in what weather conditions we will run. Besides, if he’d taken an extra lap, he’d be in the front row, too. Don’t forget, we’re in the lead now. The way the World Cup is played, we could even settle for a situation like this. I hope that Frentzen will give us a hand, keeping Hakkinen behind. And then when Schumacher does not start in front, he brings well. He has to go to points. He gets ten, so much the better".
Here is one of the most important reading keys. With Schumacher on the run, the ranking can also be managed. The German thinks so too, disappointed but not too much:
"I have to control Hakkinen, that’s all that matters to me. He’s right in front of me, I can see him well. If Barrichello wins, he gets a few points and I get the advantage. And then in a lottery like that, I could have finished tenth or fifteenth. That would have been a big trouble. I don’t make any predictions, but with the fifth place everything is still possible".
There remains the regret for that blurred turn of a breath, with the checkered flag appeared three seconds before it was needed. The German explains:
"I came out twenty seconds after Barrichello. I lost at least two with the red light at the pits, because Irvine was passing. Then in the first lap I didn’t want to force and ruin the tires. In the second, in addition to not having a good set-up, I made two small mistakes, a bend closed too much and a pass on the grass, so I could not make the third, the one that would have put me in the front row".
In just thirty-eight thousandths are enclosed the first three drivers. The last of these is Hakkinen, whose mood is not the best after losing for nothing the fourth pole in a row, right on the home track of the team. Hakkinen explains the disappointing result:
"The traffic undoubtedly hindered me, then there were the yellow flags that forced me to lift my foot from the accelerator twice, and finally my car did not have a perfect set-up I was too slow in the area of the Club curve. A pity, because the pole was at hand and start in front of everyone would have been great in case of wet race, because it would avoid problems of visibility".
But the disappointment is limited to the official tests, because as soon as the speech slips on the race, the optimism of the world championship is back to rise. To console him there is first of all the fact that Michael Schumacher was worse:
"This comforts me a bit, although I must admit that until now I have always been in front of him on Saturday, and you know how it ended. Could Barrichello block me for Michael’s comeback? Possible, but I have in mind a precise strategy: my Mclaren is always very fast with a lot of petrol on board and I must be able to exploit this strength of ours. How? Trying to take the first curve in the head".
According to Mika the strategy of a rocket start could even work with the wet bottom:
"Last week I made several starts in the wet, I trained for a long time. Of course, I was alone, I started in the front row, not behind two other drivers. And here with the clouds of water that will form you do not mess around. I expect a crazy race, where anything can happen. I’ve never won here at Silverstone, I have to break the spell. I’m a bit worried about the balance of the machine: after the first sector is not optimal. We need to improve".
Unlike Hakkinen, the new father Heinz-Harald Frentzen is more than satisfied, not hiding that the birth of his firstborn gave him a special charge, in a Grand Prix that is also held a few hundred meters from the headquarters of Jordan, not a small advantage in a weekend affected by rain, because any spare parts can arrive immediately. Although the appointment with the pole was missed by only three thousandths, the German does not despair:
"I am proud of this result, also because last week I was practically unable to do tests, but it is clear that the bad weather was our ally. With the track dry we are not yet at the level of Ferrari and McLaren".
A day to remember also for the home driver and debutant with high hopes, Jenson Button, fifth and for the second time in four races ahead of Ralf Schumacher in qualifying. Not bad for a rookie who has just turned twenty, and who has shown to be able to keep their cool even in difficult situations, such as when during free practice in the morning, finished in spin, was centered by Irvine’s Jaguar, released in the same point. A setback that forced him to skip much of the tests, so that the mechanics could repair his car, but forced him to present himself at qualifying almost in the dark:
"It’s nice to be able to enter the first six after such a terrible day. I have to thank the team for the effort they have made and for planning perfect strategies. And it will be equally exciting to leave next to Schumacher".
But there are other calculations that absolutely must not fail, those of the weather forecast for Sunday. At stake are the set-ups, the visibility, a track that can become a bar of soap, with confused race and hierarchies all busted. Uncertainty that seems to the box the dominant word in terms of electronics. Suspects are wasted and now everyone sees flashing lights in the rear and openings of the petrol door for improper use of the speed limiter. They talk about Alesi, some have noticed a Jordan, others a Williams, but the FIA is silent and nothing official leaks. Despite the rain that had fallen in the previous days, Sunday, April 23, 2000, not a single drop of rain fell on the Silverstone circuit for all sixty laps of the race.
At 13:00 we start, however, of the almost 130,000 spectators expected, only 90,000 are present on the stands. The reduced turnout is caused by a gigantic traffic jam that grips the access roads to the circuit, to the point that it takes from six to eight hours to get out of the queues of cars the beauty of twenty-five kilometers. Who is not already in the vicinity of the circuit at least two hours before the start, is able at best to attend the final stages of the race. Among the victims of a surreal disorganization are also Joyce and Duncan Coulthard, parents of David, who can only watch the last eighteen laps.
Hakkinen himself risks to miss the morning warm up, having been stuck in traffic ten kilometers from the track. Only thanks to the passage of a policeman on a motorcycle, the Finn manages to appear in time. A chaos due to the decision of the organizers to close in the days before all public parking and grassy lawns, reduced by bad weather to muddy stretches, and that led some fans to head to Silverstone already in the night. With the queues stopped, many people park the cars along the highway that leads from the M1 to Silverstone and continue on foot, where the distance is not excessive, despite the police, from 10:00 (three hours before the start) invites people by radio to stay at home.
Max Mosley accuses the organizers, who in the face of two weeks of bad weather have done nothing to make the lawns-parking available in time. Organizers who will have to deal with ticket refunds and huge losses. Despite everything, the cars are ready on the grid to take part in the British Grand Prix. Barrichello and Frentzen start well from the first row; the two Mclaren cars, chased by Michael Schumacher, struggle instead. The Ferrari driver joins Hakkinen on the outside, but he is rather determined not to give way to the opponent, tightening the trajectory and forcing Schumacher to raise his foot not to end up on the grass.
The contact is avoided for a matter of centimeters. In doing so, Schumacher lost two positions to Button and Villeneuve, and in an attempt to overhaul the Canadian at Stowe, he was surprised at the next corner by his brother Ralf. After the first lap, Barrichello made the pace ahead of Frentzen, Coulthard, Hakkinen, Button, Villeneuve and the Schumacher brothers, with Michael author of a first lap to forget. Ralf, however, during the second round enters the points area bypassing Villeneuve at Stowe. Frentzen, meanwhile, maintains close contact with Barrichello, and is followed closely by McLaren.
In the first stage of the race, the first six drivers are enclosed in just three seconds, while Michael Schumacher goes crazy behind Villeneuve, failing to make the overtaking nor to make himself dangerous. The pace of the BAR-Honda is so slow that even Jos Verstappen with the Arrows clings to the exhaust of Ferrari. The leading group continues the compact race, but no one manages to attack the previous one, this up to the first series of pit-stops, inaugurated for the leading drivers by Frentzen, who stops on the twenty-fifth lap together with Ralf Schumacher. The next step is for Jenson Button, whose pit-stop is slightly slower than that of his teammate; a subtlety that puts him back on track behind Ralf, and therefore with a lost position.
Barrichello’s first stint and the Mclaren’s have been extended, which easily maintain the race pace of the Ferrari driver. Behind them, neither Villeneuve nor Schumacher stopped, momentarily fourth and fifth but very far from the head of the race, and with Frentzen approaching at great speed. The first real twist of the race comes at the moment when David Coulthard surprises Barrichello at Stowe, completing the overtaking even from the outside: the Ferrari seems to have a problem on his Ferrari, since Coulthard manages to escape away in a few bends. In the same lap, the thirtieth, Hakkinen goes to the pits for what will be his only stop. The Finn returns to the track behind Frentzen and the two Williams.
Before making his stop, Coulthard records the fast lap to make sure he holds the position at least on the Williams and Hakkinen. The Scotsman succeeds, since coming out of the pit lane is just behind Frentzen. At this point, with Villeneuve also back in the pits, in first and second position, but with zero stops left, there are Barrichello and Schumacher. The latter must push hard, because only then can he get rid of Villeneuve.
Then, on lap 34, Rubens Barrichello spun at the Luffield corner, the last before the pit entrance. The Brazilian picks up the car and immediately returns to the pits, where the mechanics make refueling and change tires. Rubens, however, communicates that something is not working, and in fact he cannot start again. For the poleman of Saturday, the race ends with a withdrawal caused by a failure of the hydraulic system.
The only Ferrari remaining in the race, that of Schumacher, records record times before making a stop at the thirty-seventh lap. The German returns to the track in sixth position, about fifteen seconds away from Hakkinen, fifth. In doing so, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, chased by Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher, leads the race. Jordan’s driver, however, as well as Williams' two, embarked an insufficient amount of fuel to get to the checkered flag without having to stop again. This means that with a sufficiently fast race pace, Michael Schumacher can still hope for the podium, while the Mclaren start to see the possibility of making a double.
First Frentzen, then Button and finally Ralf Schumacher make the second stop in the program, finding themselves respectively in fourth, sixth and fifth position: the two-stop strategy, therefore, is the least profitable. The faded victory is not the last disappointment for Frentzen, who all of a sudden can no longer change gears for a gear failure that is not new at Jordan. Both Ralf Schumacher and Button showed it with ease, shortly after Jacques Villeneuve arrived, who climbed to sixth position. The problem worsened lap after lap, so much so that Frentzen could only return to the pits to decide his third retirement in four races.
While leading the race Hakkinen tries in vain to worry Coulthard gradually reducing the gap, the only ones that seem to be able to revive a final race that seems to have little to say are Villeneuve and Trulli, fighting for the sixth position. The Italian finds what seems to be a great overtaking in turn 14, but in reality it is favored by a gear failure that is also manifested on the BAR-Honda of the Canadian, who immediately after losing the position takes the pit lane to retire. Nothing else happens, and so, after three races spent watching rivals triumph, Mclaren reacts to the Ferrari with the success of David Coulthard, who precedes the finish line Mika Hakkinen. A result that decrees a fantastic Mclaren double in Great Britain.
In a somewhat unexpected way if you look at his race, Michael Schumacher gets a third place that allows him not to lose too many points in the drivers' standings compared to the two Frecce d'Argento, and at the same time to contribute to the manufacturers' classification of Ferrari, still easily in the lead but with a reduced gap on the Mclaren. The points area is completed by the Williams of Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button, constantly growing in his crackling start to the championship, and Jarno Trulli, who limits the damage for a Jordan still too unreliable.
On the podium, to reward the winner there is a historic figure of the paddock, Ken Tyrrell, while to receive the trophy for the team there is Norbert Haug, who receives an inevitable champagne bath from his two drivers, with the collaboration of Michael Schumacher, appeared to be in a good mood once he got out of the car. Even before getting on the podium, in fact, Michael jokes with a cameraman throwing some water on his head before smiling friendly. In the press conference, as usual the first to speak is the winner, in this case David Coulthard, triumphant at Silverstone for the second year in a row:
"I was great, but it was scary. There were 15 laps left, I had problems with the gearbox potentiometer, I started yelling at the car: no, please, you can’t do this to me. He must have listened to me, everything’s back to work. A fantastic result for the team to have both drivers on the podium, even better if in first and second position. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very happy to win here again after last year’s victory. It’s wonderful".
He’s radiant, Coulthard, now second in the overall standings with fourteen points, twenty away from the leader Schumacher:
"The history of the World Championship begins again. The gap from Schumacher remains wide, but if I win other races...".
Hakkinen is disappointed, despite the second consecutive place that allows him to climb to third position in the standings, with twelve points:
"I didn’t have a good balance with the car, also in the warm-up I did little for problems on the car, and this certainly didn’t help. I couldn’t try the setup in the warm up, and I guessed: I didn’t get it right. Having a good run in the morning, although short, can sometimes be crucial. Six points are fine, ten were better. I play it all in Barcelona: it’s my race. If I don’t win there, it’s really hard. The start really decided the Grand Prix. I was unlucky, because I lost grip while accelerating. So I found myself with Coulthard on the right and Michael on the left. At that moment I thought, should I lift my foot? I’m sorry about Schumacher, but I decided to keep him down. Then it went the way it did".
He is only angry with himself, Michael Schumacher, out of points for much of the race, although in the end, Barrichello’s strategy and retirement allowed him to climb the podium again:
"My departure was good, I saw a hole next to Hakkinen, I thought I had more grip, I tried to go outside, on the grass, to pass, but I did not count that the last days had rained a lot and the meadows were wet and slippery. With this maneuver not only I did not pass Hakkinen, but I lost three more positions, finding myself eighth".
He’s not mad at Villeneuve, who kept him from lap two to lap 33:
"He made his race, he could not give me way. I was faster, but I had a load of more gas. And in these conditions it is practically impossible to overcome".
Nor does he resent his brother Ralf, who overtook him in the first round without hesitation:
"A tough duel, but his behavior was more than legitimate. I didn’t think he was so tough: usually you learn from the older brothers".
Not even the outcome of the Grand Prix shakes Schumacher too much, as according to him the main rival for the title remains Hakkinen rather than Coulthard, unless the Scotsman remains on these standards. The Finn, for the first time this year, reduces the gap from Ferrari, although it is only two points:
"The way the race started, it’s okay. I played the first three races by God, not this one, but if it ends with so little damage I have to be happy. I can still live quiet".
Jean Todt is less diplomatic than his pilot:
"I would have preferred to see a Ferrari win and I am very sorry for Barrichello. But if it must be a Mclaren to triumph, better be that of Coulthard".
A weekend, then, dismissed with minimal damage, but that still leaves a little 'alarm for the new break up of Barrichello. Todt does not hide the apprehension:
"Because reliability is paramount, and we know very well that when we don’t get the points, they go to Mclaren. We work a lot, but it is never enough to improve the quality. The fight is long, tight. We knew that our opponents are not dead, we must not let go. We are competitive on every circuit, you will also see it in Barcelona. We are no longer afraid of anyone, but it is necessary to insist, fight more and more".
A sad abandonment, with the bitterness in his mouth for Barrichello, who felt that something was wrong with his Ferrari since Saturday night, but at the time when he expected the team to pay him homage for pole with the forklift usually available for Schumacher, it was not so. Jean Todt explains:
"The reserve car is up to Schumacher in all races. But if there is a need, it passes to Rubens. This need did not occur".
But at the same time, he tries to console him:
"He must not lose faith, but understand that he has a team that follows him and will give him a good car. At Silverstone he was very good at the start and until the time of retirement, he has no fault. Not even here this year there are hierarchies defined in the team. His time will come".
Barrichello, on the other hand, would probably have liked to have been able to do a comparative test on two cars in the warm-up, and in case to turn on the reserve car. His car had problems since the first lap (the steering wheel was crooked, the car went in a different way in the curves to the right than those to the left) so, despite a good start, He then could not take off and found himself glued behind Frentzen, Mclaren and Williams. The trouble at the plumbing was announced five laps before retiring, when Coulthard took advantage of it surpassing him at Stowe. Rubens is disheartened:
"Something always happens. It seems that this machine is angry with me. I’m not an unlucky man, but this year it seems that I happen to everything".
This time he didn’t cry like in Brazil. On the face of Barrichello there is only room for anger, anger for the great occasion faded, his Ferrari that ends in the mud when he is in the lead of the race, the victory, the first of his career, that slips away.
"There was something wrong with the set-up from the start of the race. I got off the track because of a plumbing failure, but that wasn’t the only inconvenience I had to endure. When I went to the spin line I had the gas door open, the car took a strange direction, the gears were blocked. But even before I had to fight with my Ferrari, many things did not work: understeer in some points, oversteer in others, I could never push deeply, give really the best, as I wanted and could. Already on the starting grid I saw the steering wheel a bit crooked. And it was crooked throughout the race. I thought: it will be the old tires. I asked at the pits and they said: go easy, there are no problems. Then the engine started to lose power in the straight, it was jerking and I started to worry. I talk on the radio again with the technicians and they: go quietly, it’s nothing. Then the engine is no longer dropped in the straight, but in the corners. And the car went off. When Mclaren passed me, I had been in trouble for two laps. Otherwise Coulthard would never have made it. And then he had the car with less gasoline, lighter, so it is true that he immediately went to the pits, making me back in the lead. I could have delayed the refueling a lot: given all the difficulties I had found myself in, I had saved so much gasoline. Our strategy was right. Believe me, I would have won. Sure. I’m angry, what more can I do? The car touched a lot on the bottom, it had never happened to me before. Every time new drawbacks appear. But I’m at Ferrari: who is better than my technicians to solve problems? I still have faith, but I hope to finish all the next Grand Prix. And I hope that now everyone begins to understand that it is not my fault that the machine breaks so often".
Someone in Brazil thought so, and someone else wrote it.
"They also claimed that I’m only here to work for Schumacher. That’s not true, and at Silverstone I was proving it. Sooner or later the wheel will turn, in fact, despite everything, I am convinced that it is already turning. At Imola I was more embittered, here I was going to win the race. And then I hit pole position, the first of the season for Ferrari. Tomorrow is another day, and it will be better".
And the next race in Barcelona?
"Wednesday starts again from scratch, despite the pain I feel inside. I’m not giving up, despite the stupid problem that happened in Brazil, the seat belts of Imola, the troubles of Silverstone. So far everything has gone wrong. But I will never stop fighting".
Jean Todt explains that the failure on F1-2000 of Barrichello is not the same as the withdrawal in Brazil. Then it was a design problem, this time it concerns a connector that, losing oil, determined the drop of the pressure of the circuit sending gradually tilt clutch, gearbox and steering:
"From the telemetry we spotted it just as Rubens on the radio communicated the rise of certain anomalies, around the thirtieth lap. Really a shame, he was having a great race, fighting for victory. We have identified the problem, now in Maranello we will have to understand the causes and provide because we can not lose important points on the way".
Problems with the hydraulic system the F1-2000 also accused them at the beginning of the tests at Mugello but, according to the technicians, also those were of a different nature:
"Unfortunately we can never work hard enough to be 100% sure of the reliability, this happens a bit 'to everyone, I’m very sorry for Rubens who, after the excellent qualifying, was started off very well. The route, on the other hand, affected Schumacher’s race, who, being in eighth place and capped for thirty laps by an opponent, could only trust the right strategy to climb up to the podium. Our car has also been competitive here and I believe that even in Barcelona it is capable of fighting. No, I’m not afraid that Barrichello is discouraged by this second inconvenience, he knows very well that Ferrari follows him with the utmost care and always guarantees him a good car, identical in all respects to that of Schumacher. As at McLaren, even at Ferrari there is no difference between the two drivers".
Still strong of a conspicuous advantage in both the standings, the Ferrari begins together with all the other teams the work of preparation for the fifth round of the season. As already happened before the Silverstone race, in fact, not even time to recharge the batteries that the teams meet in the Iberian Peninsula to support a test session on the same track that will host the Spanish Grand Prix, the circuit of Montmelò, where the Ferrari aspires to stop immediately the attempt of comeback of the McLaren Mercedes.
Davide Scotto di Vetta