#676 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix

2021-04-01 01:00

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#2001, Fulvio Conti, Davide Scotto di Vetta, Translated by Ylenia Lucia Salerno,

#676 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungarian Grand Prix will take place on Sunday 19 August. In the meantime, the FIA disposes that the teams shut down the engines during the summer


The Hungarian Grand Prix will take place on Sunday 19 August. In the meantime, the FIA disposes that the teams shut down the engines during the summer break. The drivers will go on holiday for the next three weeks. The governing body will only allow the teams to do a shakedown, before shipping the cars off to the Hungaroring. The shakedown should last no less than 50 km. Luca Badoer will be tasked to do the shakedown of the F2001 car at Fiorano. The test will be done on Friday 10 August and on Monday 13 August 2001. Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes, Williams-Bmw, Jaguar-Ford and Renault present a letter of complaint to the European Union Commissioner for Competition. The five manufacturers are unhappy that Leo Kirch has secured a 75% stake in the SLEC company. Furthermore, the FIA made some changes to the Concorde Agreement in order to comply with the EU requests. However, it is argued that those changes were made without the consent of all 11 teams. They thus want to ask the annulment of the Concordia pact. In other words, the teams want more money from Ecclestone, which would be distributed in a fairer way. Ferrari, Mercedes, Bmw, Ford and Renault are the big manufacturers that are part of the Acea, who threatened to create an alternative championship from 2008 onwards. Leo Kirch seems to give in to the teams' demands. An agreement will soon be reached between the two parties. The month of August represents a deadline for the drivers' market. Giancarlo Fisichella is in the hot seat, since the option to drive for Renault expires on Wednesday 15 August 2001. On that day, the French outfit will tell him whether he will be signed or not. Nevertheless, the Italian driver knows that Jarno Trulli will probably drive for Renault in 2002. This is why Giancarlo already has a spoken agreement with Eddie to drive for Jordan for the next two years. The Roma driver drove for Jordan from 1996 until the end of the 1997 season. The Irish team was able to provide Fisichella a car that was capable of winning races. Eddie Jordan thinks highly of Giancarlo:


"Had he stayed with me, Fisichella would have won. I know how to motivate him".


Jean Alesi has an urgent deadline that will define his move to Jordan for the rest of the 2001 season. The driver from Avignon will probably be Jarno Trulli’s new teammate. The Italian knows the team very well, since he won the 1989 F3000 championship with the Renault outfit. Ricardo Zonta, who replaced Frentzen in Germany, will be relegated to test driver. The Alesi-Jordan deal seems imminent. He would be a Jordan driver for the next 5 races, with an option for the 2002 season. The French driver will close a rather difficult relationship with Prost. The French team decides to replace Alesi with Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who was fired from Jordan a couple of weeks prior. The German driver is excited about this opportunity:


"I am over the moon for this opportunity. You cannot imagine how motivated I am to drive for Jordan. I cannot wait to drive my new yellow car. It is like re-starting my career in F1. I am not done. It is amazing, like a bath of youth. Forget the bad times and the long faces. That is now behind me".


Alesi is on a boat holiday with his family at Capri and is calling a friend to talk about the recent events: 


"I will soon get on my knees to pray for Mother Mary to thank for this miracle. At one point, I was without a seat when I split ways with Prost after the German Grand Prix".


The story is worth telling. Alesi had a disastrous French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours and vented against the Prost team afterwards. He accused the Prost team of poor professionalism in the heat of the moment. Prost threatened to send Jean a letter from his lawyer, for talking in public about internal problems, disclosing technical secrets and not participating in technical meetings. There was also a heavy fine to pay, despite the fact that most of the salary had not been paid yet. All this drama reached boiling point during the Silverstone weekend. Alesi looks back at it:


"I told Alain that if he had followed through with that letter, I too would have been forced to respond through legal action. That is what I did. At that point, I put a cross on the Prost team. You know me, I am a great touchy guy. When you work for someone, I know that you have good moments and others in which you fight without having to resort to lawyers. If so, then it is not the right environment for me. I also told this to Prost".


Jean wanted to free himself from the Prost contract and was even willing to renounce his sumptuous salary of five million dollars. The options for a seat elsewhere were limited though. However, luck was on his side. 48 hours later, Mario Miyakawa received a call from Eddie Jordan. The Japanese manager informed the English team principal about Jean’s situation. Eddie informed Mario that a Jordan seat was available since the German Grand Prix. Alesi took time to think about this offer, since he did not want to badly end his relationship with Prost. Moreover, the Jordan contract needed to be deposited to the FIA headquarters at Ginevra. At the same time, Prost had to give a letter of junction to Alesi. This is why the French driver drove for the Prost team at Hockenheim, finishing in a fantastic 6th place. This result surpassed Prost’s expectations for the French weekend. Alesi earned a valuable point, adding to the three-point tally that he already had. He in fact finished in the points in Monaco and Montreal. Alesi summarizes the whole situation:


"It was the best way to end with Prost. I talked with Alain and we left on good terms: it was the right decision to make an agreement with Jordan during the summer break. This way, he was able to find a replacement. I will have two pedals and brake with the right foot as I always did. After 13 years in Formula 1, there is no need to change driving style as the team already modified the car according to my needs. I will not be able to test the car before racing in Hungary but I will do a shakedown at Silverstone. What do I expect from this race? I do not know. I am very excited and gassed like when I debuted with Tyrrell in Formula 1".


Alesi will renounce over 50% of his salary to drive for Jordan. He decides to follow his heart, as it was the case in 1989. The French driver instinctively decided to drive for his beloved Ferrari team for the 1991 season, even if he was bound by an agreement with Williams. His friend Prost was close to the driver’s title in 1990. However, he lost the championship when he collided with Senna at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix. Alesi was able to score podiums and win one race, the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix. On the other hand, Alesi had many disappointing races with Ferrari. The team was in fact going through a period of huge decline in performance during that time. However, he became one of the most loved drivers in the hearts of the Tifosi. Miyakawa successfully negotiates a way to get Alesi out of the Prost contract. On Wednesday, Jordan announces that Alesi will drive for the Jordan team for the rest of the 2001 season. Alesi explains in a press release:


"I am overjoyed by this development in my career. Eddie launched me into Formula 1, so to return to race for him after all this time is something very special. Although I will not be able to test the car before racing in Hungary. I feel so motivated that I don’t believe this will be a problem. I am very excited".


Eddie Jordan states:


"I am delighted that Jean is joining us again. His experience will be invaluable to us but equally important will be his energy and enthusiasm. He is a great motivator and will drive the Jordan with a real fire in his belly so we now have a charismatic and vibrant pairing which we hope will be translated into powerful results on the track".


A couple of hours after, Frentzen signs a contract with the French team until the end of the 2001 season. He has been given another chance to drive in Formula 1, after being unexpectedly sacked from Jordan at the eve of the German Grand Prix:


"I am happy that Alain Prost offered me to drive for the last five races. It was very difficult to turn down the opportunity. I am happy to tackle this new challenge and I am looking forward to support the team for the rest of the season". 


Frentzen will make his debut at Magny-Cours, by doing the 50 km shakedown with the AP04 car: 


"My collaboration with Prost is a great challenge. I am extra motivated. I am also happy that I will finally be able to drive a Ferrari engine".


Alain Prost is also satisfied about this situation:


"I am delighted to welcome Heinz-Harald Frentzen in our team, I always been his admirer. His achievements in the last few years place him among the best drivers. I should have hired him two years ago. His large experience within F1 will be a strong asset for us for the remainder of the 2001 season. His arrival allows us to prepare the team’s future with confidence".


“Il Professore” apparently contacted Frentzen the day after the Hockenheim Gran Prix, after it appeared clear that Alesi wanted to leave the team. The two secretly met in Paris to discuss a potential contract. The German was officially on holiday with his wife Tanja and his daughter Lea in Spain, as his mother’s guest. Frentzen’s manager, Otwin Podlech, states that the option to drive for the 2002 season is not included in the agreement. Alain Prost argues that releasing Alesi was the best option for the team:


"It is essential to preserve our team’s serenity in this moment when we are building up Prost Grand Prix’s future and consolidating our strategy for the upcoming years. That is why I chose to release Jean".


Alesi said during an interview: 


"Things really didn't go the way I'd expected at Prost. There's no need to dwell on the subject, but on the Monday after Silverstone I received a letter from Alain's solicitor which really upset me. After that, all I wanted was to leave. I never for a moment thought I'd find another seat so quickly. I'm very relieved that I didn't stay on the market for too long".


Prost is vexed by these words:


"For me, his recent remarks are grotesque and I don’t want to comment them in detail. Above all, when we fixed the terms of our separation, it was agreed that nobody would denounce the other party or would give his version of how things had happened. Then, minutes after we announced his departure, he was giving everything away on radio. It is a childish attitude".


Alain continues with his version of the story:


"At Silverstone, I explained to him that I was obligated to send that letter. He should have forgotten for a moment our friendship. I was Prost, team owner in that moment. It was in my right to remind him of his duties. He did not understand that but it is normal. He took that letter as an excuse to leave. I knew of the risks of hiring him. He did exactly the same at Ferrari, at Benetton and exactly the same at Sauber. With Jean Todt, he had a violent fight through the press and it was the same with Flavio Briatore and Peter Sauber. It is the same thing every time. The others are all imbeciles, engineers are no good and there is no progress made on the car. He should stop it and I don’t want to say anymore".


Prost re-calls another behind-the-scenes moment:


"When we were driving for Ferrari in 1991, I personally exposed myself to salvage his seat with three races to go. In Japan, I was then fired for a political reason that everyone, including Ferrari, know very well. I do not want to say no more... I am rather shocked by his behaviour. Two years ago, he phoned me at 2 a.m. and plead to get hired. He did not have a seat and was begging me to go to Prost. Now he uses the letter and the financial woes as an excuse to say: I am leaving because I was not paid".


Alesi immediately replies to Prost:


"I do not understand why Prost dares to speaks about my working relationships with Ferrari, Benetton and Sauber: it is unfair. Until proven otherwise, I was always the one to leave those teams. No one fired me. Mr. Prost instead was fired in 1991 from Ferrari. The very childish thing is to not pay one of your employees and to also give him a heavy fine: nice going. All of this to try and not pay me. If the team was on the verge of bankruptcy, if last year they lost four sponsors, it is not Jean Alesi’s fault. If the team is good, why were they not able to achieve Sauber’s results despite having a Ferrari gearbox and engine? What about the Mercedes engines which were promised for 2001?"


This controversy ends a 11-year friendship between Alesi and Prost. Meanwhile, Frentzen completes a 50km shakedown with the AP04 car at Magny-Cours. He is satisfied of his first outing with the French team:


"I’m very motivated but everyone must be patient because of all the new things that I must get used to. There were quite a lot of question marks because there hasn't been much time to get used to things. So far so good. We had a good first day".


The new Prost driver repeats that he is still taking legal action against Eddie Jordan. Meanwhile, Niki Lauda critics Frentzen’s move to Prost. The Jaguar managers believes that Heinz-Harald made a terrible mistake:


"Alesi was the one who gained from this swap. Prost is worse than Jordan".


Frentzen replies with a sarcastic tone to Lauda’s statement:


"He could have offered me a seat at Jaguar if he really wanted to". 


Anyway, Alex Yoong could become the first Malaysian driver to drive in Formula 1. He is in the process of applying for the super licence to the FIA. Yoong should take Tarso Marques’ seat at Minardi. However, there is no official news from the Faenza team at the moment. David Coulthard is not bothered by the evolving drivers’ market. He still has feeble chances to snatch the title from Michael Schumacher. A German newspaper films the Scottish driver while relaxing in a yacht with two girls. The title of the article is:


"Coulthard, sex orgies on his yacht".


There is an unequivocal sequence of photo under the title. On the other hand, Michael Schumacher is living the summer break in a less luxurious way. He could wrap up the title in Hungary, which would be his second consecutive one with Ferrari. It would be a triumph that would seal Michael’s fantastic season, with 6 race wins and four 2nd place finishes. The Ferrari driver is beating everyone so far. In fact, his close rival is 37 points behind. 


Hakkinen was struck by bad luck and by an inconsistent McLaren car throughout the season and was forced to give up his championship campaign almost immediately. Michael sometimes fought against his brother Ralf, who was capable of winning three races. However, the William driver lacked the consistency to become a serious candidate for the title. Michael was not disappointed about the DNF in Germany, since Coulthard was unable to profit from it. Budapest is a favourable track for the current world championship. If he wins, the championship is over. If Ralf does not win the race and Coulthard finishes 4th, the Ferrari driver needs to finish 2nd or higher. Otherwise, if Coulthard is 6th and Ralf 2nd, Schumacher can be content with a 3rd place finish. Schumacher’s dream is to take the fourth title with a win and to equal Prost’s record of 51 wins. Furthermore, Ferrari can easily be able to win the constructors in Hungary as well. Riccardo Patrese took part in 256 Formula 1 races and is considered one of the best veterans. He in fact won six races during his Formula 1 career. The Italian driver drove alongside Schumacher in 1993. Patrese is sure that Michael will win the championship at the Hungaroring:


"For sure. Nobody was able to beat him this season. He will win his fourth title. He, together with Senna, is one of the strongest drivers ever. The results confirm this. History is incontestable".


Riccardo met Schumacher a long time ago:


"I immediately understood that he was special. I was impressed by his speed ever since that February morning at Silverstone. The weather was bad, with lots of fog and rain. There was one corner, Bridge, which is taken in 6th gear during qualifying. He only took three laps to figure out how to drive that particular corner. Then he started to take Bridge at full throttle. The thing was: before that test, he had not driven for four months; I had never seen something like that. Schumacher showed me things that no other teammate had been able to achieve and I had raced with drivers of big calibre such as Jones, Piquet and Mansell".


Let’s talk about Mansell: was he much better than Michael Schumacher? 


"Our Williams was a rocket ship: active suspensions, traction control, automatic gearbox. It was a more futuristic car than today’s ones. He was an English driver driving for an English driver, he even had the wind in his favour. You could only win with that car. On paper, Schumacher had more rivals: it is not his fault if McLaren collapsed. Williams is strong only in some circuits".


What is Michael Schumacher’s best trait?


"I would say the speed. His physical preparation enables him to always give his best in the car. He is an outstanding team player".


Some say that Michael is not nice:


"The German who does not speak Italian. He is different off-track. He is the centre of the project. In 1997, Villeneuve had a very fast Williams car to win the championship. Michael found the team in crisis and is now building a winning cycle with Ferrari. Schumacher did not just take Ferrari to the top of the world but will stay with the team for many years. Find me another guy who can pull a team like that. Credit goes to the people around him, his mechanics and engineers. Nobody can motivate them like him. Mansell was not like this, so much so that I was the one to stay with Williams for five years".


On Monday 13 August 2001, Badoer is doing the shakedown at Fiorano. However, something does not go according to plan. Michael Schumacher’s F2001 car (chassis 210) is pulled into the garage. The Ferrari technicians are not satisfied by what they saw on track. 


The Ferrari car is further tested at around 13:00 but something is still not working. It is thus sent to the race department to be dissembled. During the night, the underlying problem is solved and the F2001 car is rebuilt. The new test is scheduled for Tuesday, which is the last day to ship the three cars to the Hungaroring. Among other things, the emergency test provides a defined short route of the Fiorano track (800 meters). Badoer does 10 laps of the short track on Tuesday, for a total of 22 km. His best lap time is a 1'01"512. He is now only allowed a milage of 18 km, since he did a 10 km run on Friday. Ferrari maintains a reserved silence on the technical issues. It only transpires that the problem is not serious. Badoer downplays what happened:


"No nervousness, we only want to have the maximum peace of mind to win the championship early. Ferrari demonstrated a total commitment in exploiting the 50 km allowed by the FIA on the week of the Grand Prix. We did many start simulations during the test. We will then analyse what happened to the car on Friday. A breathless programme without leaving nothing to chance. Today’s Formula 1 is unforgiving".


This is not the end of Ferrari’s horrible day in the office. A fire spreads across one of the electricity sorting stations at 18:40, within the industrial section of the factory and in proximity of the paint shop. The firemen work for two hours and a half to limit the damage of some installations and a counter ceiling. The race department is throughout analysed during the test. Badoer tests the chassis n. 213 in the morning, instead of the 210 one. Badoer will test that chassis once it is ready to be deliberated. The kilometres allowed by the FIA are running out. He does two long laps (the best time is a 1'01"418) and three short ones. This test lasts only 15 minutes: the car material is then shipped off to Hungary. Ferrari could seal the drivers’ and constructors’ titles in Hungary. However, the Maranello team prefers to not take risks and is merely repairing Schumacher’s original race car. The 213 chassis is almost ready and will be used in next week’s post-race testing at the Mugello circuit. The mechanics take turns to prepare Schumacher’s car for the race. Jean Todt takes a cautious approach at the eve of the Hungarian race:


"We arrive in Hungary leading both Championships and for the first time this season it is mathematically possible for us to take the drivers' and constructors' titles. Despite this, we are approaching the weekend prudently with our feet firmly on the ground, because we know that it is actually possible for us to lose both Championships. We have seen that it does not take much to have a problem or an accident. We know the world of racing too well to count our chickens before they hatch. Obviously, we are favourites. We know this but we will tackle the Hungarian Grand Prix like any other so far".


The aim is the same:


"We will try and get both cars onto the podium. This is a high-downforce track like Monte Carlo. Overtaking is very difficult and qualifying will be very important. We also know that the track reaches very high temperatures and is very demanding on the mechanical parts".


Ron Dennis apparently said something against Michael Schumacher in order to keep the tension high at the eve of a crucial race. According to the German newspapers, this is what Dennis said: 


"I’m not against Michael. But I wonder whether the view that he’s the best is so widespread that it militates against his misdeeds being punished with the same severity as other would. Ayrton Senna was afforded the same latitude. I don’t support such inequality but I understand it".


Michael replies to Ron’s words: 


"Well, I mean, I don't think I need to comment on that honestly because Ron is Ron. We know how Ron is. Probably that's the best answer I could give".


Dennis accuses Max Mosley of being impartial. The McLaren boss recounts the case of the alleged irregular diffuser, which Ferrari apparently used at the 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix. Those parts conformed with the FIA regulations. The McLaren team principal insinuates:


"I am sure that marginal calls tend to go in favour of teams other than McLaren or Williams. I am not being paranoid, just realistic".


Mosley’s reply is immediate:


"The FIA never tried to favour a team. I like to see Ferrari win but not too often, otherwise it gets bloody boring. McLaren attacks us because there have been two occasions on which they have come up with a technical device which we all thought was legal but which has subsequently been shown to be illegal".


Bild writes about Dennis’s attack in an article. The newspaper article starts with this title:


"Schumacher badly insulted".


The article talks about whether Dennis does not mind the fact that the Ferrari driver could already seal the title already on Sunday. Schumacher is in a completely different mood, relaxing with his wife Corrina and his two children:


"I feel physically and mentally very much rested and refreshed. I am really looking forward to the race in Budapest. I have to say that mentally the break has been great as well, I am really geared up to driving now".


Michael relaxed in the beach with the family. He also had a parachuting day with Corinna, is one of his most recent passions. He kept up his training regime by mainly using the bike. His motto is to be moderately optimistic. The German announces some upgrades on the F2001 car:


"I have already said several times that our car looks good on all track profiles and I also count on us being right at the front again in Budapest. I do believe we have reason to be confident, with Ferrari's new aerodynamic package and the development of the Monaco package".


He remarks:


"I do not like dreaming, I always keep my foot on the ground. Winning the title is a realistic goal since we always did good at Budapest. I go into every race with the aim to win. I want to quickly wrap this championship to then think about next year’s car. I said that this Ferrari could start a winning cycle and I was right. It is exciting to be the protagonist of a great team and of a fantastic project".


David Coulthard clings to this catchphrase:


"It is not over. I like this track and I can fight for the win".


The Scottish driver has stopped believing in the championship but continues to say:


"Losing the championship? How can you lose something that you have never had in your hands?"


Coulthard launches some digs at McLaren ("Schumacher will win the title because his team did an exceptional job whilst we made costly mistakes as a team"). Michael recounts:


"Reliability has always been our strongest points. I am not worried about the Hockenheim’s retirement; a couple of failures are normal in a season. We will once again become indestructible".


On Friday 17 August 2001, Ferrari dominate the FP1 session. Michael Schumacher is the fastest driver with a 1'16''995. Barrichello is 2nd after setting a 1'17''290. Mika Hakkinen is 3rd with a 1'17"606. The session is characterized by Coulthard’s incident. The McLaren driver aggressively runs over a kerb, damaging the floor and the rear of the MP4-16 car. The Scottish is 10th fastest at the end of the session and is even unable to set any laps in FP2. Michael tops the timing sheets in FP2 after lapping quicker than everybody else. The world champion sets a 1'16"651 at the end of the session. His teammate is matching Michael’s speeds. The two Ferrari are separated by 0.083 seconds. Mika Hakkinen claims 3rd position. Ron Dennis complains about the kerb that damaged Coulthard’s car:


"It is a very aggressive kerb, at right angles to the car and is going to do damage if a car hits it. I understand changes will be made before tomorrow but the damage is already done for David. Changes to the circuit are normally listed in a document given to us before the start of every race, and if this one had been done, we would have noted it".


David further adds:


"I made a mistake going into the corner and understeered wide. I looked at the track yesterday and I thought this might be a bit difficult to have on the exit of the corner because they are about three-and-half inches high and it's not ramped up. In this case I ran wide and smashed the underside of my chassis so we'll have to change cars for tomorrow. I’m a little bit surprised, not just because I've made a mistake and paid the price for that, but that we allowed those kerbs to be put in place. It's one of the things we need to talk about with Charlie this evening because we've discussed many times in the drivers' meetings that the penalty for making a mistake should be a loss of time, it shouldn't be damaging your chassis. To have your car smashed on a kerb like that is just stupid, so we will be discussing it".


This championship is waiting for the inevitable verdict. In the meantime, the drivers’ market is heating up. McLaren will apparently the deadlock on the 2002 drivers’ line-up today. However, this does not happen. Someone believes that this stalemate is due to the name of the test driver who will partner Wurz, since Dennis wants to hire Zonta from Jordan. The malignant see Coulthard’s position as precarious, given that he has only scored nine points in the last six races. They suspect that Hakkinen did not like McLaren’s salary proposal for the contact renewal. The qualifying session emphasizes one thing: Schumacher’s domination is undisputed. The reigning world championship gives an impressive demonstration of strength. Hakkinen is the first driver to do a flying lap at the start of the session, setting a 1'14"817. On the 31st minute, the Ferrari driver exits the Ferrari garage to set a scorching 1'14"417 lap time. 


Michael further improves his provisional pole time by a further four tenths. The 1'14"059 lap time is a new track record, obliterating Prost’s previous one. No other driver is able to get close to his outstanding time. The German thus scores his ninth pole position of the season. It is also the 41st pole-position of his Formula 1 career. Coulthard is 2nd fastest, even if he is 8 tenths slower than Michael. Barrichello will start from 3rd position, finishing almost one second behind his teammate. The Brazilian curses Montoya for ruining his final attempt. Ralf Schumacher will line up alongside Barrichello. Hakkinen will start the race in disappointing 6th position, after being beaten by an excellent Trulli in the end. Juan Pablo Montoya struggles a lot throughout qualifying and is only 8th fastest. David Coulthard does not mince words when describing Michael’s quali performance:


"On the third run I ran a little bit wide and finished on the gravel as a result. On my first attempt, I had a misunderstanding with Frentzen. In the morning session I was quicker in the morning than in qualifying. I was fighting against the car on low fuel.  It was impossible to achieve Schumacher’s time. I was eight tenths slower than him. Schumacher is on a league of his own".


Is it a declaration of surrender?


"No, I think generally we have been a bit better in the races this year, I am not yet giving up, I will fight until the end. Beating him will be very difficult. The start will be crucial. I have got to at least have a clear run down to the first corner to try an overtake".


What if it does go badly?


"All that remains is to hope on the pit-stop phases. In the meantime, I hope that I do not stall on the grid, like in Monte Carlo. Then we can think about the strategy. It will be a very long and difficult race. The warm weather can help us".


This does not detract from the fact that you were often criticized:


"This has been my best season in Formula 1. I scored many points. In the first half of the season, I fought on equal terms with Schumacher. We made too many mistakes altogether in the second half.  The car had many technical problems to dream about the championship".


David remarks that his future is secure:


"I feel pretty confident that I will be continuing with McLaren and we just need to wait. As you know, the team has options on probably most of the drivers in the pitlane, but I feel confident now that I'll be staying with the team".


You were almost hit by Frentzen at one point:


"It happens sometimes that you get traffic and you have to expect one incident on track like this. I was coming down on a timed lap and I think he was on an out lap. I was just a little frustrated that Frentzen went literally through the first corner. and did not know I feel that his team should have been giving him the information. It was dangerous and frustrating. I feel that his team should be giving him the information. His team manager or his engineer should be able to tell him: Okay Heinz, a car has just passed the start/finish line. Other people do not have the same level of professionalism I had to brake on a dangerous point of the track".


Why is Ferrari so strong in qualifying?


"They better use the tyres in qualifying. It is an advantage that they have since the beginning of the season. It is one of the weaknesses of our car. On high fuel, we have been a bit better".


Michael, let’s talk about your qualifying session:


"I am surprised at this lap time, as it is much quicker than our predictions had expected. My car was perfect and I had a perfect lap. I only did six laps but not to save tyres. It's simply that when you feel you have done the maximum out of myself and the car, then you simply sit and wait. After such a perfect lap I knew I could not go any faster, so there was no point wasting effort. That’s what we did, just saved our energy".


Coulthard said that you did an alien performance in qualifying. How do you reply to these words?


"I jumped with a parachute during the summer holiday. Maybe that's what he was referring to... Jokes aside, I did not come here and expect that kind of gap. I will honestly surprise if we can maintain the advantage in the race".


You took another step towards the fourth title:


"Taking pole was key. We are halfway there. I will be trying to win tomorrow, but I expect a tight very tight, competitive race with Rubens and DC. I guess the spectators are going to see a good how tomorrow. I will be honest, overtaking here is very difficult even if an eight-tenths gap is a big cushion to have. The race will be stressful. It is like Monte Carlo; a multitude of corner and you can never lose concentration. It is very hot; the track is quite bumpy. The car bounces on the kerbs and slides a lot. We have seen quite a few spins here. 78 laps are not a joke. If you make a mistake, you are done".


Do you think Coulthard is already giving up?


"He will try to do what he can to beat me. He has nothing to lose and should try and go for it, to feel the conscience at ease. He is on his last leg and he could be dangerous at the start. I will try everything to defend pole and to win the race".


Do you already know how you will enjoy the championship?


"You know me, I never prepare anything in advance, it is my style. We are realistic, the mechanics knows that the championship could be sealed here but never talked about it. It is not a set-up to be studied. Spontaneous things are amazing and are more emotional. Anyway, we want to secure the championship, if possible, down here but before we can do that, we need the ten points".


Schumacher smashed Prost’s old track record in this qualifying session. Do you realize that his performance was disarming for McLaren?


"When I took pole on older tyres, I immediately knew that I would not have been beaten. However, I went out again to test the car on brand new tyres and improved my lap by four tenths. At that moment, the only thing left to do was to sit down in the garage to watch the competition. It has been a long time since I did a perfect lap".


Ross, the holiday did wonders for Michael:


"Could be. When I came back on track, after the Silverstone incident in 1999, in Malaysia, I was immediately going like a rocket ship. The break was good for me".


Bernie Ecclestone arrives at Hungary and meets with Ron Dennis in front of the McLaren motorhome. The two have a brief conversation:


"No, I am not worried: the championship still ends on the last race. I do not know why Schumacher should gift point to Coulthard since he could win the title here".


According to Ecclestone, there is no risks that Michael’s victory could kill the interest of the 2001 world championship. However, if it happens, the damage will at least be limited. At the end of the day, the image of the sport and the audience are at stake, not the money of the Formula 1 circus. The television rights are already sold until 2007. Spa and Monza will be fully sold in every occasion, as well as Indianapolis and Suzuki. According to some insiders, the important thing is that at least one Ferrari car is ahead of everyone. That’s it. Passionate fans want to see the red team and the famous Cavallino Rampante. This was already achieved in the past by maybe manoeuvring the races, confirming Dennis’s belief that the FIA is non-transparent and inequal. Coulthard needs to pray for a miracle, in order to find a way to re-open the 2001 championship. The paddock is unsurprisingly giving last-school-day vibes to the drivers. The thought is unanimous: Schumacher will win the championship either at Hungary or at SPA. The competition is annihilated, disheartened and annoyed. They are tired of having to praise Schumacher. Flavio Briatore briefly talks about his ex-protégé:


"Schumacher? He is very good, the best, write whatever you want".


The Italian manager launched Schumacher’s Formula 1 career. In case of victory, Michael will equal Alain Prost’s record of four world titles and 51 wins. The next goal is to chase Manuel Fangio at five titles. Eddie Irvine believes that:


"He will retire with a total of seven world crowns to his name".


It is time for the warm-up session on Sunday 19 August 2001. Coulthard is the fastest driver after using the race set-up, lapping in 1'16"915. Schumacher and Barrichello are 2nd and 3rd respectively. Schumacher sets a 1'17''338 while Barrichello a 1'17"360. The others are further behind: Ralf Schumacher is 4th with 1'17"608. Hakkinen is 5th in 1'17"704 while Jarno Trulli rounds up the top-6 with a 1'18"433. A couple of hours later, it is time for the race. The track is very hot and the air temperature is over 30 °C. The race is almost underway. Lights out, Michael Schumacher has a crucial start and is easily able to defend pole-position going into turn 1. Coulthard is immediately challenged by Barrichello, who had a great launch off the line. The Brazilian powers past the McLaren for 2nd. the Scottish driver has a disastrous start and drop to 3rd at the first corner. This is definitely not what he wanted. In the midfield, Eddie Irvine’s race lasts a matter of seconds. The former Ferrari driver attempting to defend against Fisichella but is sent into the gravel. The car is beached and Irvine is forced to retire. It is a dream scenario for Ferrari. By the end of the first lap, Schumacher is ahead by 1.3 seconds. Barrichello is 2nd. Coulthard is 3rd, ahead of Ralf Schumacher, Trulli and Hakkinen. On lap 8, it seems like the top-3 have the same race pace. However, Michael is not showing his true potential. This is proven by the fact that his race pace is unmatchable for the other driver on lap 12, including Barrichello. The gap between 1st and 2nd is over 3 seconds. The Brazilian will need to continuously look in the mirrors. Coulthard is in fact determined to re-gain 2nd position. Jarno Trulli needs to be careful, since he is hunted down by Hakkinen. By the start of the 25th lap, the Finn tries an audacious and quite desperate down-the-inside move on Trulli. 


The Jordan easily covers him off. It is further proof that it is difficult to overtake on this track. By lap 28, the race leader comes in for his first pit stop and momentarily drops to 3rd. In the meantime, Hakkinen is still stuck behind Trulli but that soon changes. On the 30th lap, the Jordan driver dives into the pits. Trulli’s pit-stop is problematic and it lasts 12 seconds. The two-time champion is thus able to do an overcut and leapfrog the Pescara driver for 5th position. On lap 31, Barrichello pits for fuel and tyres. The pressure is firmly on Coulthard now. The McLaren mechanics to make the one-lap overcut work. The Scottish driver has a good pit-stop and re-gains 2nd position. Most drivers are opting for a two-stops race. At the end of the first round of first pit-stops, Schumacher is a comfortably ahead of Coulthard and Barrichello. The McLaren team decides to put Mika Hakkinen on a 3-stop strategy, in order to attempt to shake up an overly static situation. On the 35th lap, Jenson Button spins at the exit of the last corner. The Benetton car is beached in the middle of the race track. The risk of the Safety Car is averted by the timely intervention of the track marshal to remove the stricken Benetton car. Schumacher maintains a 12-seconds lead over Coulthard and Barrichello, who are quite close to each other after the position swap. The race leader starts the second round of pitstop at the end of the 51st lap. Coulthard once again opts to extends his stint, unlike Barrichello. At the start of the 52th lap, the Ferrari mechanics face a crucial test as the Brazilian comes into the pitlane. Coulthard has the opportunity to re-gain 2nd place. The McLaren team has a problem with the fuel rig during the pitstop. Barrichello is given the opportunity to re-gain 2nd position. Coulthard sets a quick out-lap while the Brazilian dives into the pits. Coulthard is marginally behind Barrichello by a couple of tenths. The Scot tries to close right behind the Brazilian, without posing a serious threat. Jarno Trulli’s compromised race ends with an electronic system failure. The race ending is only enlivened by a brief fight between Ralf Schumacher and Hakkinen for 4th. The Finn tries to pass the Williams driver at turn 2 on lap 63. However, Ralf does not get intimated by the overtaking attempt and is able to stay ahead of Hakkinen for the time being. Soon after, Mika needs to pit for a third time. He will finish the race in 5th position. Michael Schumacher is cruising around the race track and is drastically increasing the lap times. The Ferrari driver is managing the F2001 car until the end of the race. At the end of 77th lap, Michael wins the Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of Barrichello and Coulthard. The German uses the team radio to express his emotions:


"I don’t have the right words for you at the moment. This is simply amazing. It’s lovely to work with you guys. I love you all".


Michael cliches his fourth title with the 51st career win. Ferrari also seals the constructor’s title for the third consecutive time. It is a Ferrari feast in the podium. Coulthard can only watch as his rival joyfully sprays the champagne. Schumacher, Barrichello and Todt are singing the “We are the champions” song. The new 4-time world champion arrives to the post-race press conference in a happy and alien mood:


"I can’t say much more that it has been a beautiful weekend. We couldn’t have done much better. When I came here, I thought it would be thought but we got pole position and we got the victory. I got my fourth championship and the constructors’ title with Ferrari. It is a bit too much for me right now to take it all in. I can’t believe how wonderful the guys are, they are such a great crew, such a good team. I’m in love with them all. It’s so much fun to work with them. It’s their achievement and I’m more than thankful to all of them".


You are on the best form of your career:


"Maybe. I won a lot. When I debuted in Formula 1 in 1991, I only thought about what could be my achievement at Spa, when driving for Jordan. I was thinking I would be somewhere in the midfield. That was my kind of target. there was no kind of indication from me that I would become as successful as I am now. The season is not yet over. I have still got three more years with Ferrari. The aim for the end of the season is to win as many races as I can. I feel every race is a new challenge for me, there is always space to improve. I feel there is enough fire in me to keep me pushing for quite a while. I have a three years’ contact and I want to keep living days like this. A dream race with a dream team".


There is no danger of you slowing down:


"It is impossible with the guys alongside me. you cannot believe how wonderful the guys are, they are such a great crew, how much we stick together, in good times and particularly in bad times. The guys and everybody in the team are so fantastic, they are so human, they work so hard, they are so determined, it is lovely to work with them. I am in love with them all".


What about Barrichello?


"A great teammate. I trust him completely. Rubens is a very important part of the team. he has contributed to that quite a big time. When he goes testing, I can relax with my children, my family, because he is doing the job well. His wife is now pregnant. I will work a little bit more next year. That's the way we work, and all together we have moved up to the step we are at now. He let me through at the Austrian race. And to some degree if I can help him be sure I do, because that's the way the teamwork has to be. In the meantime, I gifted him the winner’s trophy. It is a steering wheel and he liked it".


You are now equal with Prost at 51 wins:


"We just had yesterday a chat in the motorhome. I told Jean: I am not sure it is going to happen here. He replied 'please win that race, I am so bored all the time of answering that question: when's it going to happen, what do you feel for Michael, blah, blah, blah... and I said exactly the same so he will be a little bit more happy - so will I - but then he said you have to win another one because now we're equal".


You are now one step closer to equal Fangio at five titles:


"I think it is not fair to compare at all. All we are doing in comparison is pretty small, if you see the safety and the cars from the old days it is something unbelievable to imagine to race this fast".


When did you understand that you won the title?


"I came here with a not so optimistic view for the weekend. I don't know why, I was pretty relaxed all weekend, but thinking somehow that it wasn't going to happen here. I wasn't purposely putting pressure on myself; it was just like that. During the last three laps I only started to think 'well, it's supposed to be this weekend' And that's when you get even more nervous, honestly, when you can make a mistake".


What happened during the formation lap?


"It was a frightening moment. I preferred to go around the kerb and got into the gravel. It was not ideal obviously. The mechanics told me that there was no damage and that the car was fine".


The race was a walk in the park for you:


"Do you know how many corners there are on this circuit? It is never easy. In the last three laps, I only started to think 'well, it's supposed to be this weekend'. That is when you get even more nervous. If you make a mistake, you are then going to look very stupid. I was hearing strange sounds in the cockpit. The car was going really well but the tension can play tricks on you. This is the reason why I talked to my engineer on the radio".


How do you compare it with the other three titles?


"Comparisons don’t matter. I don’t think it is important. It’s always something special to win a Grand Prix, to win a championship even more. That’s what counts. I just want to enjoy it".


Who do you want to dedicate this title to?


"Make only one name would be absurd. This is Ferrari’s victory. The guys made me world champion. This is my 6th season with this team and I do not want to cancel anything, not even the bad moments. I can reveal my luck charm for this race, it was the kiss that my daughter Gina Maria gave me before leaving for Hungary".


Hakkinen was unable to fight for the title:


"I would have not won so early had he not had all that bad luck".


Barrichello is also very happy:


"I do not know what to say. I am really proud to be his team-mate and to be part of this team. I think it’ s a fantastic party and a fantastic achievement. I don’t think it I count that when I joined the team, we won the whole time. It’s something that I’m really proud, something that Michael and the team deserved. I’m really proud to be with them. Working with Michael and with Ferrari is fantastic".


Michael then gives his teammate a hug. Jean Todt has always been the most cautious member of the Ferrari team, keeping the enthusiasm low as not to let it get the upper hand. He is now also enjoying this achievement:


"A dream race with a dream team. I am very happy that Ferrari has secured its third consecutive Constructors' title and that Michael has won the Drivers' title for the second consecutive year. It is fantastic to achieve this with a one-two finish and with four races still to go".


Todt gives high praise to Schumacher, while not forgetting the big role that Rubens Barrichello played through the season:


"Michael was simply fantastic and Rubens drove a stupendous race, which gave us the Constructors' title. Michael has given him the winner's trophy from this race. This year's results speak for themselves and I am delighted for the team that Ferrari has reaped the rewards for all its hard work. There are still four races to go and we will do all we can to live up to our titles in the races to come".


 The Ferrari sport director wants to emphasize this victory among others:


"This year’s success is particularly sweet as we were up against two very strong rivals. This evening the entire team will dine together in Budapest and tomorrow we will return to Maranello to celebrate these titles with all the Ferrari staff. In fact, at the moment I am thinking mainly about all these people and their work which has contributed so much to this great result".


Carousels are decorated with red flags at Maranello. The Tifosi celebrate Schumacher and Ferrari’s championship titles. The Tifosi watched most of the race in sacred silence in the auditorium. There was a round of applause when Michael and Rubens were 1-2 in the first corner.


The Tifosi then shouted when David Coulthard exited the pitlane behind Barrichello during the second pit-stop phase. The Tifosi explode with joy when the chequered flag declared Ferrari’s triumph. Everyone was on their feet on the last lap while chanting the slogan: 


"The people who are not jumping are Scottish".


The streets of Maranello are now swarmed by the usual carousel of cars and motorbikes. The Maranello priest, don Alberto Bernardoni, plays San Biago’s church bells to accompany Ferrari’s double success:


"President, we are partying here, do you want to come?"


Todt and Schumacher talk to the Ferrari president before going to the podium. Luca Montezemolo arrives at Budapest at 20:45 from Bologna. One hours later, he is talking with the Ferrari team members in the waiting room of the Kempinski hotel:


"In life and in sport, winning is very difficult. Repeating last year’s success was even more challenging. It is a magical year. If people told me at the beginning of the season that we would have won the drivers’ and the constructors’ championships with five races to go, I would not have believed then. At the start of the year, I thought it was impossible to do better than last year but we succeeded".


What is Ferrari’s secret?


"A lot of sacrifice, a lot of work and many exceptional people: that is the recipe for beating our greatest rivals, the biggest teams in the world. We have celebrated already but we will continue today as well, because we deserve it. For five years, we have been constantly in front. Such dominance is unprecedented in the history of Ferrari. Our thoughts go to Enzo Ferrari: he is surely watching us from the sky. He will be proud of what this team has achieved so far, after the upheavals encountered after his death".


Schumacher is one of the greatest drivers in Formula 1:


"Michael was extraordinary throughout this season and had a perfect weekend here. He is the best driver that Ferrari has ever had, even if the comparisons are always difficult. He is the one who won the most and is the driving force of this team. This is important for us. In the 80s, we suffered from too many lacerations and divisions inside the team. Today we are united and Schumacher is our spearhead".


Your rivals were struggling this year:


"I do not think so. McLaren were also stronger than ever, including Williams as well. Next year, the fight will be tougher as they are capable of doing big investments. Winning is in our DNA. We have celebrated already but we will continue today and tomorrow as well, because we deserve it. From Tuesday, we will immerse ourselves into the 2002 project in order to continue winning. I will finally be able to watch some races live". 


You will have stability on your part:  


"I was very criticized when I hired Todt but he, together with Schumacher, became the true Ferrari men. A phenomenal group was born. These victories are not pure luck but are coming from the will of the people who work for Ferrari".


Lawyer Agnelli followed the Hungarian Grand Prix from a boat. He watched the race with a small group of friends. His feelings regarding Ferrari’s success are the following:


"Everything went according to plan. At 2:00 p.m., I was worried about the race. Fate is more mocking in life than in sports with its players. This evening I feel a very lucky guy. Destiny satisfied three of my passions within a couple of hours. Juventus won the Berlusconi trophy. the Stealth boat won another regatta and Schumacher/Ferrari won the two world championships with two months to go. It is the best way to end my holiday in Great Britain".


The Maranello team was perfect at Budapest. Ferrari took no risk during the race and crushed McLaren in the process. Did you fear that something was going to spoil the party?


"Michael and Barrichello started so aggressively and kept Coulthard behind. I said to myself: the championship is ours today. I then concentrated only on Schumacher, observing his driving and his imperceptible gestures until the end. I am now even more convinced that he is an impeccable and extraordinary driver. I was emotional. I did not think it could have happened to me".


Schumacher emotionally listens the Italian anthems. He cries during the post-race interviews with the journalists. How much did Italy and Ferrari change you?


"You can tell that a German becomes wiser when going to Italy. It is not true that a man should never cry. Crying is not a sign of weakness; it is not humiliating. It is sometimes nice to cry".


Agnelli compliments Todt, the mechanics and Rubens Barrichello. He explains that they are the architects of a sensational season. Let’s talk about your rivals, why do you think Ferrari dominated this season?


"Look, I always thought that winning two leagues on a row is insane. It is the same thing for Formula 1 but I am convinced that this Ferrari is now close to perfection. When the other teams will catch up to us, we then will need to do another step forward. Let’s prepare ourselves".


Will the other teams catch up in 2002?


"I do not know but we cannot afford to slow down. That's the beauty of building cars and not just race cars".


Consistency was the key element to win the championship rather than the car itself. The F2001 conserved many virtues of the 2000 single-seater. Luca Baldisseri explains in full depth:


"It was improved on the weak areas. Last year, some of the hard-fought races were very useful.  We learned from the mistakes that we did in high-temperature tracks such as Germany or Hungary. This year’s car behaves like the previous one and is also much faster".


Stability is the key word. For example, the car had to inevitably be adapted to this year’s rules and to the necessary technological advancements: from the aerodynamics to the suspensions, from the weight distribution to the V-10 engine. Furthermore, stability is important for the organization of the team. 


Key members, such as Brawn, Todt, Byrne and Schumacher, have extended their contracts and will stay with the team for a long time. They have an unbreakable bond and will continue to do their work as usual. Montezemolo declares that the two championships are a result of hard work from the Ferrari team:


"When I arrived at Ferrari, the team was in crisis. It took a long time to build a strong team, I would not want to let anyone get away".


Stability is secured under Todt’s leadership. Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, Paolo Martinelli, Stefano Domenicali and the new-graduate mechanics from the Ferrari school are a force to be reckoned with. The Ferrari team is a well-oiled machine that can teach a lot to the other rival teams. Montezemolo does not admit exemptions. The members mentioned above, including Todt, will stay until the end of 2004. Barrichello has only a contract until 2002 but Montezemolo explains that the Brazilian driver is part of the future. Barrichello will start his third season with the team in 2002. The Ferrari party is underway at the Kempinski, one of the most elegant hotels in Budapest. It is not sober but is moderate, unlike others. As the party goes, let’s look at the most unforgettable parties. In 1995, after Benetton won the two championships at the Aida Grand Prix, a member of the team’s personnel danced naked on the table. In 1999, Michael was seen drunk during the McLaren ceremony. In 2000, after winning the first title with Ferrari, the German shaved his track engineer during the team’s party. Ferrari won the constructors’ title at the end of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix and Michael had the brilliant idea of bringing red wig for himself and the team. Michael arrives at the hotel for the Ferrari party dinner, together with Corinna and Ralf. The atmosphere is quite shallow and muggy at the moment. The buffet is quite rich, with lots of good Italian wine. There is so much elegance but the guests have little desire to let themselves go. It is thus Michael’s turn to turn this party on its head, as a way to express his joy for winning the championship. The crowned champion, with the help of Marlboro, hires a band and becomes the life of the party. His presence is enough to brighten up the party. There is no swimming pool unfortunately. There is no-one that ends up in the water, unlike what happened in Hockenheim after Ralf’s victory. The serious designer Byrne is enjoying the party and is dancing the twist dance. In the meantime, Haug sings the song “We are the champions” together with Schumacher. Michael knows how to involve people, even the members of rival teas. Two years ago, he celebrated Hakkinen. Haug and Mario Ilien, who works for Ilmor, return the favour. It is now time for the cake. It is a big and delicious chocolate cake with the design of the Cavallino Rampante. It says:


"Congratulation Ferrari, 2001 world champions".


Finding it indigestible would have been an insult to those who serve it: the waiters Schumacher, Barrichello and Badoer. The party ends in the morning at 4:30. Mario Illien is among the first to congratulate the Ferrari members:


"Ferrari triumphed because they had the best car package in terms of engine, aerodynamics and chassis. They deservedly won the two titles. We are not far off. The race demonstrated this. We will continue to work hard on all departments to catch up. Ferrari is a great team and has an excellent potential as demonstrated this year on track".


He and Mario Theissen are on the same wavelength: 


"Ferrari deserves the two titles for building the best car overall. We won three races. With four to go, some tracks will definitely suit our car’s characteristics. We will fight to increase our tally and to fight against McLaren for 2nd place in the constructors’ championship. By winning, we could now say that we have beaten the World Champion team, Ferrari".


Niki Lauda won two titles with Ferrari in 1975 and in 1977. He congratulates the Maranello guys by enhancing their team spirit:


"It is a super-team and has an incredible technical potential. The resources that the leaders of each department have is incredible. Everything there is perfect, it is a beautiful organization. In my opinion, they will also win in 2002. Ron Dennis will need to work hard to chase and overtake them. They are simply perfect. I did not win three on a row due to the Nürburgring incident. You will see, they will win multiple championships. Awesome job".


Another ex-Ferrari driver is happy about this result. We are talking about Gerhard Berger, who drove for Ferrari for six years in total:


"I am very happy for what they did. They will win for a long time. Ferrari is clear favourite for next year. We really have a lot of homework to do. I do not see how we can match Ferrari's pace. I think that we, including our rivals, will have to do a lot of work if we are going to be able to compete. You could say that Ferrari has become dominant as were Williams and McLaren in the recent past. They fully deserve the two titles for their hard work throughout the year".


Eddie Irvine, who is Ferrari’s 1999 vice-world champion, has a more telegraphic style:


"They deserve this double triumph; they did an extraordinary job in improving the car throughout the season. Schumacher is also very strong as usual. I would have played second fiddle to Schumacher in the team if I stayed. I instead want to win".


The McLaren sport director Jo Ramirez is adamant that Ferrari deservedly won the two World Championships:


"Ferrari had an incredible year. We had stupid technical failures; we were also very unluck and made lots of mistakes. The results do not correspond to the strength of our car. We are better than what the standings says even if Ferrari deserves the two titles".


Cesare Fiorio, the ex-Ferrari sportive direction who almost won the championship with Prost, gives his opinion about this topic:


"Ferrari worked better than the others, the car is perfect. The team has the best drivers. When you win races and take lots of pole position, it means that you simply worked better than the other rivals. For years it has been said that Ferrari was not winning because they were making everything in-house. With the arrival of car manufactures, such as Mercedes, BMW, Honda, Ford, Ferrari become the model to imitate. Constructing everything at Maranello is now their strong point, since they are doing for more than 50 years".


Accepting defeat is difficult. However, doing it with style and with a big dose of elegant spirit is even harder. Nonetheless, the Mercedes-Benz manufacturer has plenty of class. It is quite extraordinary the way the Stuttgart manufacturer congratulates Schumacher. All German newspapers publish a photo of the Ferrari championship trophy sitting in the passenger’s seat of the Safety-car, a silver Mercedes SLC. It is truly a masterpiece of refined humour which goes by the title:


"Driving lesson by a World Champion".


This message is followed by a heartfelt series of compliments:


"Heartfelt congratulations, Michael Schumacher, for your fourth title".


Apart from complimenting Schumacher’s driving skills, the team promise immediate redemption:


"Michael Schumacher is simply the fastest driver. He is the first to cross the finish line and to close the championship. We will do what we can to finish this season on a high since there are four races left. Next season, we will fight hard to try win the championship".


Norbert Haug, who is Mercedes-Benz’s sport director as well as Schumacher’s friend, accentuates this aspect:


"We want redemption. We, as well as Ferrari, won for two consecutive years. We will score 3-2 in 2002".


The Stuttgart manager announces that the redemption weapon is almost ready: the 2002 Silver arrow car. Over 100 people are working around the McLaren-Mercedes car, in Great Britain and Germany simultaneously, under Adrian Newey and Mario Ilien’s guidance:


"We are quite far ahead in almost all components; we will try to test them in the remaining races of the season to check their development rate".


According to Haug, working on the car reliability will be very important. It was a distinctive characteristic of the McLaren-Mercedes team until now:


"We cannot afford to make bad starts next year".


There is only clear goal for the rest of the season:


"Winning all four remaining races".


Without thinking too much about the scrap with Williams-Bmw for 2nd place in the constructors. Ralf Schumacher seems to not believe the Mercedes manager:


"Losing against Ferrari is one thing but losing to another German manufacturer is a completely different story".


The championship titles are wrapped up but the season is not over. There are four races remaining. Let’s see what happens next.  


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