#557 1994 German Grand Prix

2021-04-06 01:00

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#1994, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Giulia Montemurro,

#557 1994 German Grand Prix

If all goes well, the Italian Grand Prix can be held on Sunday, September 11, 1994. Wednesday 13 July 1994 Gerhard Berger (representing the drivers),


If all goes well, the Italian Grand Prix can be held on Sunday, September 11, 1994. Wednesday 13 July 1994 Gerhard Berger (representing the drivers), authorities and politicians visit the autodrome. The Austrian specifies the works to be carried out: escape routes at the Lesmo corners, retouches to the Roggia, a couple to be eliminated at the Ascari variant. As far as the so-called curvone is concerned, it has been decided to move the track inside, covering the old one with sand to increase the space in case of an exit. No extra trees are to be cut down: the 526 already planned remain, some of which will be transplanted, while a large number of new plants will be planted in another area of the park. On Thursday, 14 July 1994, the plan will be discussed at the Region's territorial commission. The PDS (Italian political party) is also prepared to vote in favour. In the meantime, the FIA, following the incidents that occurred during the British Grand Prix, invites the drivers Rubens Barrichello and Mika Hakkinen (for their collision on the last lap), Damon Hill (for stopping after crossing the finish line to take a flag) and Michael Schumacher (for not returning to the pits after the black flag had been shown) to appear before the World Motor Sport Council on Tuesday, 26 July 1994, which is to meet expressly in Paris. A representative of Benetton is also summoned. More good news from Innsbruck for Karl Wendlinger. On Wednesday, 13 July 1994, he held his first press conference: 


"I would like to race again, but I don't know if I will be able to. It has to be seen how things will go. But I want to regain my form as quickly as possible. I'm optimistic, it's getting better day by day".


From Germany, Porsche denies a return to Formula One, which had been speculated by some newspapers. The following day, Thursday 14 July 1994, an accident stops the new Williams-Renault on its first day of free practice. The car driven by the Scottish driver David Coulthard goes off the track after about twenty laps, crashing violently against a small wall. The Englishman emerges unscathed from the accident. At Le Castellet, Mika Hakkinen's McLaren-Peugeot (fastest lap in 1'07"94), Michael Schumacher's Benetton-Ford (1'08"29) and Olivier Panis's Ligier (1'08"47) also tested ahead of the German Grand Prix. A few days later, on Monday 18 July 1994, Ferrari, with Jean Alesi, also completed 39 laps of the French Paul Ricard circuit with a car in the Hockenheim version (i.e. with a one centimetre step on the bottom of the car and new solutions for suspensions, hub carriers and engine air intakes). The Frenchman devotes himself above all to tuning the car. On Tuesday 19 July 1994 Ferrari leaves Paul Ricard without having resolved all its doubts. Two days of testing, in the South of France, were to be used for a final acceptance of the new 043 engine so that it could be used in practice and in the race at the German Grand Prix, from 29 to 31 July 1994. The engine, in truth, did not show any structural or sealing problems. But the programme was not completed due to some problems with the accessories. Therefore, at this moment, the Maranello team is not in a position to know whether the engine will be able to sustain the effort of a full race. And Jean Alesi, who was in charge of this test, has no certainty. After running 9 laps in the morning to fine-tune the Ferrari 412T1B, the French driver starts at 2:00 p.m. to simulate the distance of an entire Grand Prix, i.e. to drive 79 times around the 3800-metre track. On lap 23 he is forced to pit for a water leak. Twenty minutes of pit-stop and a new start. But after another nine laps (32 laps in total) he finally stops. And the team returns home. Says Jean Alesi, at the end of practice:


"On the one hand I am not very worried, because the engine did not break down. We had two failures, both with an explanation. First, a radiator cracked: I had already used it at Magny-Cours and it had probably been damaged in one of my runs, even though it apparently seemed intact. Then a crack opened up on the timing cover. It was almost certain to be a material defect, in the casting. I smelled oil, saw a blaze and slowed down. The fire went out and I returned to the pits without breaking the engine. We could have also changed the part and continued. But it's better to check the parts in Maranello".


Yes, but then the test did not provide the data you were looking for.

"True; that is why I am not happy. We still have to work. The new engine, after all, is what worries me the least. It is very powerful, even though it still needs several electronic adjustments for tuning at low, medium and high revs. But we don't know if it has reliability. In addition, the car has all been modified for the new regulations that come into force from the next race. The flat bottom now has a one centimetre step, the rear wing no longer has a forward overhang and cannot have more than two wings, the suspension has been revised. In short, there is a lot of meat on the fire and everything has to be checked".


Moreover, you will not have direct comparisons with your rivals.


"Of course, and this is one of the things that torments me the most. At this point we don't know whether we have taken a step forward or whether we have gone backwards. I remain optimistic by nature, hopefully we are in the right direction. The Hockenheim circuit should be favourable to the characteristics of our car. But I'm starting in the dark, in a single-seater that I don't know very well".


According to some estimates, the cars should lose a further 1.5 to 2 seconds per lap as a result of the new safety measures. It remains to be seen who has worked better than the others. Last week on this same track the fastest was Mika Hakkinen in the McLaren in 1'07"42, but the track had a chicane at the end of the Signes straight. Tuesday 19 July 1994 Jean Alesi set his best lap in 1'07"94, but with 70 litres of petrol on board. The mystery remains and Ferrari has a few days left to resolve the doubts. On Thursday 21 and Friday 22 July 1994 Gerhard Berger will be at Mugello to carry out suspension tests. Jean Alesi hopes to be summoned on the second day to finish his test (with the same engine used in France) and to get familiar with the car. Work in forced stages for the Maranello team. But it will be better to make an extra effort. Was it or was it not said that Hockenheim would mark a turning point for Ferrari? And that the car would become competitive to win? A few days later, on Saturday 23 July 1994, the winds of war begin to blow in Formula 1. On the one hand there is a harsh intervention by Luca Montezemolo and Ferrari about the Schumacher case and the credibility of the Grand Prix world, and on the other a battle of opinions at Monza over the matter of the changes to be made to the circuit to get the go-ahead for the September race, changes that would involve the felling of hundreds of trees. Montezemolo, as he had already done on other occasions, ventilates the possibility of abandoning Formula 1 in an interview with the German Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag, which circulates a summary to the press agencies. The Ferrari president deplores the irregularities committed by German driver Michael Schumacher in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Michael Schumacher, guilty of overtaking Damon Hill on the reconnaissance lap, had received a black flag, but had not respected it. He had been punished with a fine and a stop&go from the pit lane instead of disqualification.

"Unbelievable. I had never seen something so monstrous. What happened is a joke in very bad taste. We wrote a very serious letter to Max Mosley, president of the FIA, asking for clear rules and effective controls, equal for all, both in practice and in the race. Ferrari has been in Formula 1 for 50 years and we will only continue our commitment if Formula 1 remains credible. Otherwise, there are other areas of the sport in which we can compete".


Luca Montezemolo's statements are not so much directed against Michael Schumacher or the Benetton team, but sound like an invitation to the FIA to act with the utmost rigour to restore full compliance with the sporting rules. On Tuesday, 26 July 1994, the FIA Council meets and Schumacher could be hit with a disciplinary sanction, right on the eve of the German Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, 31 July 1994 at Hockenheim. To Luca Montezemolo who demands the utmost rigour to defend the credibility of Formula 1, Michael Schumacher retorts by invoking clemency from the FIA World Council, which will hear him in Paris about the non-stop after the black flag in the British Grand Prix.

"I will repeat that I did not see that flag".


There is an air of disciplinary action, in addition to the $25.000 fine imposed after the Grand Prix.

"The most important thing is that I can race in front of my fans on Sunday. Will I stay put in Hungary or Belgium? Even if that was the case I wouldn't lose my head, I'm someone who looks forward, not backwards. Anyway I don't think I'll risk the title, because I don't believe in a disqualification and because it's not certain that Hill's Williams will win. Berger and Alesi are always more competitive".


At Monza, in the meantime, several agendas are presented in the city council against the felling of the Bosco Bello trees for the work on the Lesmo curves. The agendas were presented by the PDS, Rete, Rifondazione Comunista, PSI, Montezemolo, part of the PPI, PRI and Lista Pannella. But none of the four documents were approved. On the other hand, a document from the Northern League was approved with 18 votes in favour, 13 against and one abstention, expressing a positive opinion on the work planned for the autodrome: it must be carried out within the timeframe required for the Italian Grand Prix to take place. The document invites the council to return to the city council to illustrate the renovation project as part of a plan to restore the park. Meanwhile, Giuseppe Bacciagaluppi, author of the project that led to the redesigning of the Monza circuit in 1978, also intervenes.


"I can't say that I approve of the modifications that Berger has asked for, let's say that I suffer them. They are useful but unnecessary works, it would have been enough to work on reducing the performance of the cars more than modifying the track. This is demonstrated by the fact that there have been accidents in different facilities and all caused by the anomalies of the single-seaters, built with artifices to increase performance. If we talk about Monza, Berger asked us to modify the big corner. When it's ready, it will certainly be improved from the point of view of the stability of the cars, but the result will be that we will arrive at a higher speed on the exit".


On the modifications to the part of the circuit between the two Lesmo corners that have triggered the controversy, Bacciagaluppi explains:


"They have been imposed on us with the evidently erroneous criterion that circuits should be modified, even radically, to mitigate damage in the event of cars going off the track. We will pass the little law and do the work, obtaining greater active safety but certainly not greater passive safety. I would have made extensive and expensive but rational changes. I would have kept the big one unchanged and modified those at Lesmo by inserting, provisionally, a variant between the two bends. This solution would have been useful and desirable, it would have avoided the felling of trees and allowed the preservation of the grandstand. In any case, it would have been a modification while waiting for the new regulations that foresee a reduction in power".


On the 26th of August 1994, the law's hard fist fell on Michael Schumacher: exclusion of the German from the classification of the British Grand Prix, when he had placed second with the consequent loss of the 6 points he had won, and above all suspension for two races, for not respecting the black flag shown to him during the Silverstone race, after the German had irregularly overtaken Damon Hill twice during the lining-up lap. The decision taken by the FIA in Paris is exemplary. It is a pity for Michael Schumacher who is a very talented racer, but the breach of regulations could not go unnoticed. It would have set dangerous precedents and, above all, dealt another lethal blow to the credibility of Formula 1. The $25.000 fine imposed on Benetton and the reprimand given to Michael Schumacher had confirmed that the irregularity had been detected, but not punished according to precise rules of the sporting code. Is it fair, however, some will ask, that a driver leading the World Championship should be so heavily punished for such a minor oversight? After all, overtaking Damon Hill's Williams on the grid lap, although a prohibited manoeuvre, should not have had any influence on the race. But with its verdict the FIA also wanted to strike at the arrogance of the behaviour of the driver and his team (who will have to pay a $500.000 fine), the lies told in defence, the attempts made to cheat the cards. In addition, certainly influencing the overall judgement of the World Motor Sport Council is the situation of suspicion that has existed for some time against Benetton. In fact, the Italo-English team has been accused by several parties - but no one has ever had the courage to lodge a complaint - of using prohibited electronic systems for the car's start and traction control. Indeed, the FIA also underlines this point by fining Benetton and McLaren $100.000 for failing to hand over the so-called black box to technical delegate Charlie Whiting after the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. On that occasion it had been requested that the top three cars (Benetton, Ferrari and McLaren) make their electronic control units available for inspection. The Maranello team had its computer taken away (after all, Ferrari had already had problems at Aida when it had used a system in practice that it considered legal, but the Federation had forbidden its use); the two British teams, on the other hand, had refused to undergo the test. 


In the course of the investigation, it was ascertained that the computers of all three teams may have contained a programme capable of breaking the regulations. However, since it could not be proven that it was in operation, no disqualifications but only fines for not allowing access to the codes of the electronic control units were triggered. This explanation is important for a particular reason: it would make it clear why Michael Schumacher made the gesture during the reconnaissance lap. The German's overtaking move on Damon Hill would have been neither an oversight nor naivety. In all probability he wanted to test the start and its management system, which had allowed him to overtake Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell at the start in the French Grand Prix. This is the document presented during the FIA World Council meeting:


"Report by the FIA Formula One Technical Delegate on the investigations carried out on the electrical systems on Car Number 5 in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. An investigation into the software used in the computer systems of the cars finishing in the first three places at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix was undertaken by Liverpool Data Research Associates Ltd. (LDRA). LDRA is a company which specializes in the analysis, validation and verification of highly complex computer software such as that used in modern civilian and military aircraft and a wide range of safety critical applications. On race day (1st May 1994), each of the teams was requested to supply the source code (Computer instructions are usually called machine code and are represented internally as a series of noughts and ones known as binary numbers. This form of instruction is very difficult for humans to understand, so computer languages have been devised that enable us to express instructions in a form that is more natural to us. Programs written in these languages are known as source code. A computer can not use them directly but they can be translated to machine code that it can understand by using another program called a compiler. When the machine code is loaded into the computer's memory the processor can then execute the instructions that are described in the source code) for the software on board the car and schematic circuit diagrams of the electrical system. One team complied in full with this request and a demonstration of the complete electrical system was set up with entirely satisfactory results. Having received nothing from the other two teams, a fax was sent on 9th May (Appendix 2) asking for urgent action. An alternative suggestion was received from Benetton Formula Ltd. In this letter dated 10th May (Appendix 3), they stated the source codes could not be made available for commercial reasons. In a fax to Benetton Formula dated 15th May (Appendix 4), we accepted this proposal, on the condition that Article 2.6 of the Technical Regulations was satisfied. On 27th May we received a detailed program for the demonstration at Cosworth Engineering. The tests which were scheduled to take place on 28th June were canceled, by Benetton, after some discussion between Ford and themselves concerning non-disclosure agreements. By a fax dated 28th June, we again requested the tests take place as a matter of urgency. The demonstration and tests took place on 6th July. We received a report from LDRA on 11th July which left a number of unanswered questions which we were advised could only be addressed by close examination of the source code. In a letter to Benetton dated 13th July we made it clear the demonstration had been unsatisfactory and we required the source code for the software. Following another exchange of letters on the 13th and 14th July a meeting was set up at the Benetton factory on 19th July, an agenda for which was received on 18th July which gave our advisors full access to all the source code, but only on Benetton's premises and subject to the instructions set out in Appendix 11. Analysis of this software, which had been used at the San Marino Grand Prix, revealed that it included a facility called launch control. This is a system which, when armed, allows the driver to initiate a start with a single action. The system will control the clutch, gear shift and engine speed fully automatically to a predetermined pattern. Benetton stated that this system is used only during testing. Benetton further stated that it (the system) can only be switched on by recompilation of the code. This means recompilation of the source code. Detailed analysis by the LDRA experts of this complex code revealed that this statement was untrue. Launch control could in fact be switched on using a lap-top personal computer (PC) connected to the gearbox control unit (GCU). When confronted with this information, the Benetton representatives conceded that it was possible to switch on the launch control using a lap-top PC but indicated that the availability of this feature of the software came as a surprise to them. In order to enable launch control, a particular menu with ten options, has to be selected on the PC screen. Launch control is not visibly listed as an option. The menu was so arranged that, after ten items, nothing further appeared. If however, the operator scrolled down the menu beyond the tenth listed option, to option 13, launch control can be enabled, even though this is not visible on the screen. No satisfactory explanation was offered for this apparent attempt to conceal the feature. Two conditions had to be satisfied before the computer would apply launch control: First, the software had to be enabled either by recompiling the code, which would take some minutes, or by connecting the lap-top PC as outlined above, which could be done in a matter of seconds. Secondly, the driver had to work through a particular sequence of up-down gear shift paddle positions, a specific gear position had to be selected and the clutch and throttle pedals had also to be in certain positions. Only if all these actions were carried out would the launch control become available. Having thus initiated launch control, the driver would be able to make a fully automatic start. Such a start is clearly a driver aid as it operates the clutch, changes gear and uses traction control by modulating engine power (by changing ignition or fuel settings), in response to wheel speed. When asked why, if this system was only used in testing, such an elaborate procedure was necessary in order to switch it on, we were told it was to prevent it being switched on accidentally. A full copy of the LDRA report of the 9 July meeting can be seen in Appendix 12. In the circumstances, I am not satisfied in accordance with Article 2.6 of the Formula One Technical Regulations that car number 5 (M. Schumacher) complied with the Regulations at all times during the San Marino Grand Prix and I therefore submit this matter to the World Council for their consideration.


Charlie Whiting FIA Formula One Technical Delegate".


The alleged bad faith both for the irregularity committed and for claiming not to have seen the black flag displayed because of the sun in his eyes is thus punished. The FIA also hits Silverstone's race director, Pierre Aumonier, hard (one year licence suspension) for failing to do his duty. In addition, Rubens Barrichello and Mika Hakkinen are handed a one-race conditional suspension for their last lap incident. They will be under observation for three races and if they commit further irregularities they will be disqualified. Damon Hill, on the other hand, is acquitted having proved that to collect the British flag on the lap of honour he did not stop (which is forbidden), but only slowed his Williams. At the end of the world championship, Michael Schumacher makes no statement. Benetton also takes twenty-four hours before issuing statements. The affected driver and team will have until midnight on Wednesday, 27 July 1994 to appeal the FIA ruling. If they do so, Michael Schumacher will be allowed to race in the German Grand Prix. In fact, it will be necessary to wait for the final judgement to become enforceable. On the level of pure racing logic the German might be tempted to serve the punishment immediately as the Hockenheim circuit is, in theory, the least favourable to the Benetton's characteristics. But there are 150,000 spectators who have already paid the ticket to see their idol. A decision will be made at the last moment. 


As for the World Championship standings, Michael Schumacher is now on 66 points, followed by Damon Hill with 39 points, Jean Alesi with 19 points and Gerhard Berger with 17 points. The championship will be completely reopened if Michael Schumacher is given his two race suspension. Inevitably, on Wednesday, 27 July 1994, a climate of great tension is created in Germany over the Schumacher case. The heavy punishment (two race suspension and exclusion from the final classification of the British Grand Prix, with the loss of 6 points) inflicted by the FIA on the Benetton driver unleashes German public opinion. And there are also those who speculate about the possibility of riots caused by fans in Hockenheim, where on Friday the Grand Prix practice scheduled for Sunday will start. The newspapers, in bold letters, speak of conspiracies, of injustice, of an act of force wanted by the Federation only to revive a Formula One World Championship killed by the superiority of the young German driver. The rival teams (Williams and Ferrari in particular) are also accused, not too veiledly, of having put pressure on Max Mosley so that the disqualification would be very harsh and exemplary. Faced with a very hot scenario, Michael Schumacher and Benetton, contrary to expectation, are taking their time and not announcing their decision about lodging an appeal that would allow Michael to race in Germany anyway, pending the final verdict. Says Willy Weber, manager of the Benetton driver:


"The situation is delicate. We have to think about it, we and the team. We will make a statement on Thursday at noon".


Michael Schumacher, even before knowing the verdict in Paris, had declared that in the event of disqualification, on the level of pure logic, he would have preferred to skip the race in Hockenheim where his car should be less competitive than others, serving the sentence immediately. But it is clear that such a decision would only further unleash the fans' anger towards the FIA. On Wednesday, there were already thousands of people around the circuit with less than peaceful attitudes. Manfred Ehinger, president of the Fans Club dedicated to the German driver, says bluntly:


"If Schumacher doesn't race everything can explode".


Threatening words that alarm the police forces. Those responsible for organising the race do not hide their fear either. Hartmut Tessereaux, press officer of the Hockenheim circuit, explains:

"On Sunday we are expecting more than 150.000 people who have spent thousands of marks to be here and who will have to travel hundreds of kilometres. If Schumacher is not present, it will be a catastrophe. We dare not think what will happen".


The only fairly authoritative voice raised against Michael Schumacher in Germany is that of Hans Joachim Stuck, son of a 1950s driving star and himself a former Formula 1 driver. Meanwhile, in the course of the evening many teams arrive in Hockenheim, the last ones will arrive on Thursday morning. The environment, as has been said, is hostile. If Michael Schumacher agrees to file an appeal and thus contest the race, he will be hailed as a hero. If not, it is difficult to predict what will happen. Formula 1, like it or not, always gets into trouble. On Thursday, the 28th of July 1994, Michael Schumacher prefers to be a peacemaker rather than a rebel. The driver lodges an appeal, together with Benetton, against the ruling that cancels the 6 points he won at Silverstone and sentences him to a two-race suspension. So the Formula One World Championship leader will race in Germany. The fans, at least apparently, calmed down as a result, although some protest for the home idol is not yet ruled out. The decision was taken on Wednesday evening, but was only officially communicated to the organisers on Thursday morning. In time, however, to make the good news known via radio and television, so as to prevent fans' anger. Schumacher turned up at the circuit in the afternoon, riding a Honda Fireblade motorbike, wearing an anonymous helmet and short trousers. Nobody recognises him at the entrance, and shortly afterwards he starts a crowded press conference.


"These have been the worst days of my life. I would have liked to stay at home. It was a difficult decision, but in the end I thought I could not betray my people, disappoint the fans who had been waiting for this moment for several months. It was my choice, the team had left me free to make it. Now I don't want to think about anything other than the race. Then we'll see. On this track, in theory, my car is less competitive than usual. But we will do everything to go fast, as much as possible".


And Flavio Briatore reiterates:


"We thought above all about our sport. Plus we didn't want to take on the responsibility of causing problems of a different kind. The police chief had warned us that there could be disturbances. It seems to me that 320.000 tickets were sold for the three days, and it is only fair to run with all the protagonists. We now defer to the justice of the Court of Appeal. We feel that we have been punished too severely, even if we can admit that we made mistakes. Personally, I do not feel guilty. For the rest, until there is a final verdict, I prefer not to talk about what happened".

Briatore does not add anything else about the measures taken by the FIA, but he lashes out at Ferrari and Riccardo Patrese.


"We do not want to be criminalised. Especially in Italy there has been talk of a Benetton racing with irregular systems. It's not true. We had old programmes in the computer but we never used them. So much so that the FIA fined us $100.000 for providing the access codes to the electronic control units late. But we first had to ask Ford, the owner of the on-board computers and the installed software, for permission. The same problem, incidentally, involved Ferrari and McLaren. We were very annoyed by the interview given by the president of Ferrari, Montezemolo, to a German newspaper on the eve of the Paris judgement, in which he asked for more rigour, threatening otherwise to leave Formula 1. Now I can say that we are happy that Ferrari has remained in Formula 1".


The Maranello team replies very calmly. Press officer Baccini declares:


"It is not true that the systems found in the ECUs of Benetton, McLaren and Ferrari are the same. After the Aida race, we removed anything that could have led to any misunderstanding".


And in a communiqué, Ferrari points out how, after the San Marino Grand Prix, the technicians immediately and without reticence agreed that the programmes contained in the ECU were examined and read by FISA experts.


"As for Montezemolo's interview, it had been done more than a month ago and should have been published next Sunday, but the German journalist, as it was extremely topical, preferred to anticipate it".


The controversy leaves little room for the race, but there is a lot of curiosity about the latest changes made to the cars (step on the bottom and smaller wing). Ferrari had promised to be more competitive, but has not yet decided whether to use the new 043 engine in the race. A definitive test is likely in tomorrow's qualifying. What will be the outcome of the appeal filed by Michael Schumacher and the Benetton team? There are obviously three hypotheses: reduction of the penalty, maintenance of the same or, even, tightening of the sentence. It is clear, however, that allowing Michael Schumacher to race in Germany is an element that plays in the German's favour. Radio box claims that the driver will only be disqualified for one race, while the $600.000 fine imposed on the team will be reduced. It has not yet been decided when the Appeals Tribunal will meet. The judgement will apparently take place after the Belgian Grand Prix. In this case, if suspended for one race, Michael Schumacher would have to miss the Italian Grand Prix, assuming the latter is held. Flavio Briatore claims to have ideas for the defence, but does not want to reveal what they are. Friday 29 July 1994 The announced redemption of Ferrari starts a little uphill. But one should not despair. If Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi get P2 and P4 in the first time trials of the German Grand Prix, turning little or nothing, they may well improve on Saturday. For the moment, however, the challenge to Michael Schumacher starts with Damon Hill and the Williams, who consistently appeared the fastest. The Williams is fitted with the new Renault R6B engine and shows no problems, while also showing remarkable progress in terms of road holding and performance. It has to be said, though, that poor Schumacher, greeted by thousands of waving flags at every appearance on the track and in the pits, has little chance to defend himself. What betrays him is his teammate, the young Dutchman Jos Verstappen. Who thinks well of severely damaging his Benetton with an exit in the morning and then driving Michael's in the sand as well, when it is given to him during qualifying just to set a time. So the leader of the World Championship, after a single attempt at a fast lap that puts him in third position, stands by and has to make up positions in the second practice session. Even the Ferraris don't show up too much on the track. During free practice Gerhard Berger broke an engine. In the timed ones the Austrian and Jean Alesi can only complete five laps, out of the 12 allowed. Explaining what happened was Jean Todt, in the mood for clarification.


"We had planned to complete the first day with the old 041 engines. Then there was a failure in the power unit of Gerhard's car and we decided to mount the new 043s on both cars, to put our two drivers on the same level. The operation took longer and we had about 10 minutes to qualify. Berger stopped because the engine was giving strange signals. Alesi ran out of petrol because there was no more time for refuelling. But we are sure we did it right. There were adjustments to be made on the engines, now we know more".

Jean Todt is reminded that he had spoken of a Ferrari capable of winning at Hockenheim.

"I confirm that the car is potentially winning. Even if the new regulations have not favoured us. We are making other changes, we think we are close".

The French manager denies a possible interest for Nigel Mansell in 1995 (ventilated by some German newspapers) and for Rubens Barrichello (who will probably race from the Belgian Grand Prix for McLaren). And it confirms, once again, the trust placed in Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger, who are also under contract for next year. An official statement that lifts the morale of Jean Alesi, who is rather fragile in this respect. Todt also reiterates that there is no interest in the technicians Jenkins and De Cortanze, and that Barnard and Brunner work hand in hand. The former at Shalford for the new car, the Austrian at Maranello in the development of the current one. On Saturday, therefore, expect a Ferrari capable of producing an in-depth attack. Meanwhile there is another heavy attack by the FIA on Benetton. In a four-page document, the Federation's technical delegate points out that on Michael Schumacher's car, after in-depth examinations, a system has been found that once activated can be used for an automatic start. Totally illegal. But since there is no evidence that this sophisticated electronic program was used, the FIA is, for the moment, limiting itself to making the discovery public. Benetton, to save itself, makes it known that the contraption was only operated a few times during practice. 


The fact remains that the whole matter will be submitted to the Formula One World Council for consideration of all eventualities. Which means that in the appeal process for Michael Schumacher and his team scheduled for the coming weeks there may well be some surprises. Negative ones, unfortunately for them. There is however another shadow over the World Championship, which certainly does not do the sport any good. As if that were not enough, the controversy over the Monza racetrack continues. The negative responses from the Minister of the Environment, Matteoli, and the Director General of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Sisinni, regarding the felling of 524 trees inside the park, are causing great concern at SIAS, the company that manages the racetrack. Admits SIAS president Fumagalli:

"We are in the hands of the drivers. For our part, we will fight to the bitter end for the consent to carry out the necessary works".


In the meantime, AC Milan firmly reiterates that its objective is to have the Italian Grand Prix held at the Monza circuit. Contacts continue to find a solution to make the Lesmo curves safer without significant changes to the environment. Politicians are also on the move. While the Lega speaks of mismanagement of the territory, the Honourable La Russa and Senator De Corato, of AN, begin a collection of signatures under an appeal to Berlusconi and the Council of Ministers so that, while respecting the regulations in force and the decisions already taken, they will make a concrete and decisive effort to find a solution. As far as drivers and racing teams are concerned, many are wondering what Ferrari's position is. Jean Todt says in this regard:

"It is clear that this is a very important problem. Monza is a myth, the Italian Grand Prix too, it would be unthinkable for us to see both cancelled".

To those who say that Ferrari also owns the Mugello circuit and would be interested in moving the race, the French manager replies:


"Mugello is not ready for 1994. There would be work to do to make it safer and more suitable for hosting a Formula 1 race".


And Gerhard Berger, spokesman for the drivers' association, also speaks clearly:


"Mugello as it is is dangerous and needs some modifications".

The Austrian is also upset because he has the impression that someone is fuelling the controversy, making him look like a Ferrari hitman out to kill the Monza circuit:


"I have always acted in complete freedom. I went to see the track and proposed changes for the Lesmo corners. When I came back, twenty-five of my colleagues told me that something had to be done about the Curva Grande as well, which was done. Nobody wants to know about the chicane".

But can't the chicane proposal to avoid cutting down trees be valid?


"It's not for me to decide. The Monza organisers will present a precise project to the FIA, who will submit it to the drivers and if the Association agrees, I will not be the one to oppose it".


On Saturday, meanwhile, the FIA will make known the changes requested for Imola. Drivers and constructors do not want a chicane at Tamburello, preferring a shift inside the track at that height, with a tightening of the radius of curvature: a solution that, however, would require the felling of 110 pine trees. Returning to the events of the German Grand Prix, on Saturday the 30th of July 1994 the front row of the starting grid was tinged with red: this had not happened for about four years, since 23 September 1990, when Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost started ahead of everyone at Estoril, Portugal. One hundred and forty-six days later, Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi take Ferrari back to the top in a Grand Prix. So in the history of an announced feat - Jean Todt had said several times that on the fast track of Hockenheim the Maranello cars would be competitive - the Scuderia Ferrari touches up its coat of arms that has been faded for too long. 


This is pole position number 111 since the Maranello team has participated in the Formula One World Championship. And that's not all: it is also the 27th time that Ferrari has occupied the front row of the grid with two or three cars (once upon a time it was even possible to have a trio). Alberto Ascari, Giuseppe Farina and Piero Taruffi had started in 1952 in Belgium. So Ferrari was competitive again, and it did so with an engine, the new 043, that really did produce an impressive roar, as well as developing plenty of horsepower. But, having won the first battle against the stopwatch and on a circuit that is favourable for its characteristics (in practice it consists of two straights linked by three chicanes, plus a short mixed stretch on the Motodrom), one cannot swear that on Sunday the team from Maranello will break the very long fast of victories. The last one dates back to the week after the pole position in Portugal, and was by Alain Prost in Spain, on 30 September 1990. 58 races have passed. The prediction is not for Gerhard Berger or Jean Alesi, but for Damon Hill or Michael Schumacher. The two drivers from the Maranello team only occupy a role as possible outsiders. Incidentally, it is not even certain that the 043 engines can be used for the race. On this track the engines always run at full throttle and there is an African-type ambient temperature of 40 °C in the shade. Reliability is therefore important, which is always precarious for a debut. In addition, the Austrian's and the Frenchman's cars in race conditions have never so far been as good as in practice. In short, there are reasonable doubts not to launch into predictions that could be contradicted by the facts. Nevertheless, the mood at Ferrari is justifiably euphoric. When qualifying is over, the Maranello team's pit lane is filled first with handclapping, then thunderous applause, then a chorus of cheers. With a little emotion: the team did not forget to remember, with a minute's silence, Gabriele Prodi, the young electronics technician who died in a car accident the week before the Grand Prix, while returning from Le Castellet. Gerhard Berger, after setting the fastest time by lapping in 1'43"582, leaving Jean Alesi and Damon Hill just over 0.4 seconds and Michael Schumacher almost 0.7 seconds behind, said:


"I am happy, because this is the first crowning achievement of a long and difficult job that started last year. We have overcome hard times, controversy, criticism, working hard. And it must be said that it would not have been possible to get to this point without Jean Todt, who has been able to rebuild and relaunch the team".


Jean Todt, for his part, dedicated his exploit to President Montezemolo, who in turn offered all the necessary input for the revival. Jean Alesi, who was dreaming of the first pole of his career, demurs:


"I am the eternal second, like the cyclist Poulidor".


But the Frenchman also seems happy. Both drivers, however, emphasise that there is still work to be done on the chassis. Gerhard Berger wants a car that is more stable at the rear, Jean Alesi would like better insertion of the front in corners. Says Jean Todt in this regard:

"We will try to please both of them, we have several modifications in the pipeline".


The Ferrari's drive galvanises the whole environment, but that does not mean the rivals will be softer. Says Damon Hill:

"For the race I am convinced I can aim for victory".

And Michael Schumacher replies:


"For me it's fine to have two Ferraris in front. I have to think about Williams".


No one is giving up, it's going to be tough, between tyre changes and unforeseen events along the way. To say tremble, the Reds are back, we will have to wait until the afternoon and maybe even a few more races. But it looks like the Maranello team is on the right track.


On Sunday, 31 July 1994, at the start of the German Grand Prix there is an initial accident in the rear involving four single-seaters, but the worst happens a few moments later: at the end of the straight, Mika Hakkinen squeezes towards the middle of the track and causes contact with David Coulthard's Williams-Renault. The McLaren driver loses control of the car, which spins and goes off the track, cutting off the oncoming cars. Six other cars are involved in this accident and are forced to retire, while others, being damaged, return to the pits on the following lap. Fortunately, there are no physical consequences for any of the drivers involved. Meanwhile, Jean Alesi is also forced to retire a few hundred metres ahead due to problems with the single-seater's electronics. Despite the danger of debris on the track and cars stopped at various points, the race is not interrupted. The two Williams of David Coulthard and Damon Hill return to the pits after the accident and end up at the back of the field, losing more than a lap to their rivals and unable to fight for important positions. So the race continues with Gerhard Berger, in the Ferrari, in first position, followed a few tenths of a second by Michael Schumacher. The German of the Benetton is clearly faster on the lap, however he is unable to overtake the driver of the Maranello team: on the straights the superiority of the V12 engine of the Ferrari, compared to the Ford V8 of the Benetton, becomes apparent. On lap 15 the second Benetton driver, Jos Verstappen, pits for a tyre change and refuelling. This improper manoeuvre, thanks to the particular solution implemented by the British team on the liquid inlet valve (without a filter, so as to speed up the pouring into the tank and make the operation faster), causes a copious spillage of petrol that floods the single-seater and, in contact with the red-hot rear axle, catches fire. The flames are quickly tamed and the Dutchman manages to save himself, suffering only a few minor burns. In the meantime, the race continued with Gerhard Berger and Michael Schumacher battling it out, followed at a long distance by the Ligier of Olivier Panis and Éric Bernard (advantaged by the goodness of the Renault engines, compared to the other cars). The German Benetton driver decided to anticipate the pit-stop, trying to gain an advantage over Gerhard Berger, but on lap 20 he was forced to retire due to the failure of the Ford engine of his Benetton. In the final stages of the race a duel breaks out between Gianni Morbidelli and Érik Comas for fifth position, finally won by the Italian driver. 


Gerhard Berger retains the lead of the race and wins; Ferrari returns to victory after waiting almost four years, i.e. since the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix. Olivier Panis and Éric Bernard complete the podium; Ligier places two cars on the podium almost nine years after the last time, since the 1985 Australian Grand Prix (the fourth and last time this has happened in the history of the French manufacturer, which was destined to cease trading two years later). Victory, pole position and second place on the grid. Ferrari makes the en plein in Germany, going even beyond the most optimistic forecasts. The success comes at the end of a race that had a heart-stopping start and that brought to life an episode with dramatic implications (but fortunately without serious consequences) in the pits, during the pit-stops for tyre changes and refuelling. A triumph without shadows with Gerhard Berger in the lead from start to finish, able to repel the attacks of Michael Schumacher and the Benetton. Of course, the start conditioned the course of the race, which at the end saw only eight cars cross the finish line. A series of accidents immediately after the green light cut off several of the possible protagonists. But in this sport you have to balance everything out: in the end whoever wins is always right. After all, if Ferrari had even announced the possibility of taking first place a few weeks ago, what should one say about Ligier, which has not won a race since 1981 and has appeared to be in steady decline? And yet Olivier Panis and Éric Bernard, who had never scored points, were on the podium in second and third place. It may be a coincidence. But since Friday, the new sports director of the French team bought by Benetton has been Cesare Fiorio. Also picking up points were Christian Fittipaldi, Gianni Morbidelli and Éric Comas, who escaped the starting blocks. At the start Gerhard Berger was quick to move ahead, followed by Jean Alesi, while Ukyo Katayama squeezed in between Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill. The Japanese driver of the Tyrrell hit the Englishman's Williams who was forced to return to the pits where he lost more than three minutes and then to chase, to place himself in eighth position, i.e. last. The leaders had just passed the first corner when all hell broke loose at the back. In the very last rows Andrea de Ccsaris and Alessandro Zanardi collided. In a few moments the aforementioned drivers, plus Michele Alboreto and Pierluigi Martini, with Johnny Herbert and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, ended up in the grass and against the wall. 


Further on there was another disastrous accident involving Rubens Barrichello and Eddie Irvine, Mark Blundell and Mika Hakkinen. A total of ten cars were out of action. The race director could also have shown the red flag and had the start repeated, with all the cars lined up, because the drivers concerned could have taken the reserve cars. But the type of circuit allowed the obstacles to be cleared right away and they moved on. Big work, however, at the line for the stewards who once again hit hard: Mika Hakkinen, who had already been given a conditional sentence at Silverstone, was disqualified for one race (the team, however, lodged a complaint). Michele Alboreto, Alessandro Zanardi and Andrea de Cesaris are, in turn, given a one-race conditional suspension for not presenting themselves to the stewards to provide explanations. Jean Alesi's trial also lasted very little. The Frenchman had had an engine problem in the morning. It seemed that everything had been resolved, but instead the engine went out after a few hundred metres. Michael Schumacher closely followed the Ferrari of Gerhard Berger. The German did everything he could to pass, staying close to his rival. And perhaps that was his mistake. Because he forced too hard and, after stopping in the pits for the pit-stop, in an attempt to push even harder he probably exhausted the engine of his Benetton. He retired cursing:

"I wanted to have a great race for this wonderful crowd, instead I was left without any positive results".

The German's complaint is echoed by that of Damon Hill, who is also out of the top six. Between the two rivals for the title, a nothingness that is more favourable to the World Championship leader who maintains a 27-point margin. Benetton's bad day had already been announced shortly before, on lap 15, when Jos Verstappen came into the pits to refuel. The mechanic in charge of inserting the fuel hose into the tank perhaps removed it in an awkward manner. A gush of petrol hit the car, which immediately caught fire, with hellish flames rising for several metres, enveloping mechanics and driver. It could have been a tragedy, but the rescue workers extinguished everything within 10 seconds. Verstappen got away with a big scare, the mechanics (five) with a few burns. Only one, slightly burnt on the forehead, had to be carried on a stretcher to the infirmary, but it was by no means serious. The incident, however, reiterates the danger of refuelling. The rest of the race was a catwalk for Gerhard Berger. And for Ferrari, victory finally arrived. In front of 150,000 spectators wildly cheering for the German idol, Michael Schumacher, waving the black red and yellow flags, heedless of the firecrackers that were already celebrating a possible victory for the home driver, Gerhard Berger finally put an end to the Maranello team's long wait. For Ferrari it was victory number 104 since the start of the World Championship, i.e. since 1950. He thus evened the score with McLaren who achieved the same, but honestly with less merit as they had to share their successes with a few engine suppliers. Whereas the Maranello team has always done everything on its own. Once the flags for Michael Schumacher were lowered, the red banners praising the Maranello team sprang up. Thousands of them, a sign that faith in this team-myth is always alive, ready to explode at the first positive sign. A Ferrari victory is a success for the whole of Italy. This could be another small contribution to the recovery, because it involves not only sport, but the world of work, industry, technology, ideas. And it is no coincidence that the first to congratulate the authors of the feat is Giovanni Agnelli. Immediately after the race, the president of Fiat telephoned the Ferrari van and spoke to Jean Todt, Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi. Compliments, congratulations and an invitation to continue the effort. Shortly afterwards comes a message from Luca Montezemolo:


"Today's is a day we have been waiting for for a long time. For too many races in fact we had been indebted to our fans, who were able to wait for us. And it is to them that our first thought goes, after the victory in the German Grand Prix. But my thanks also go to all the people at Ferrari, in particular Jean Todt, our drivers and sports management staff. This success rewards their ability, their commitment and their sacrifices. The support of the sponsors and technical staff, whom I would like to personally thank, has also been fundamental. Right now, let us enjoy Berger's great achievement to the full and from tomorrow morning, with even greater enthusiasm, let us concentrate on the next races".


The next race will be held in Hungary, in fourteen days' time. A hostile track for Ferrari. It will be difficult to repeat the result. But it is certain that once the positive trend has started, other satisfactions can arrive before the end of the season. Sacrifices, doubts, controversy, criticism, disappointment, four years of anger. It all vanished at 3:26 p.m. on a very hot July Sunday. Room is made for smiles, tears, hugs, in an almost irrepressible dance of joy. No one is spared. From Jean Todt to the last mechanic, for a moment Ferrari is no longer a team, but a party, a drunkenness of happiness, a happening that recalls the great triumphs of the past. The best way to put an end to what has so far been the darkest period in the history of the Maranello team: 58 races without a win, 1400 fair days of waiting. Jean Alesi, who retired on the first lap and watched the race, still in overalls, from the pits, is the first to speak:

"It is a beautiful day, unbelievable. How much we have suffered. I hope this is the beginning of a new era. And I'm the happiest of all, even if I'm standing here watching".

The anticipation is tremendous, even after Michael Schumacher's retirement, when Gerhard Berger already had success at his disposal. But in motor racing you never know, even the last lap can hold surprises. Gustav Brunner, the Austrian who developed the new 412T1B, walks behind the stands:

"These days I will have smoked 200 cigarettes. Tomorrow I'm going swimming and running to detoxify".


Engineer Claudio Lombardi slips between one van and another, he is excited:


"We have telemetry to check the whole car's operation every moment, but it would be better to do it for me. I feel like I'm going crazy".

Then, after the chequered flag, he tells about the new 043 engine:


"Winning with a power unit on its debut gives us more satisfaction. And it pushes us to work even harder for the future. As for me, I would like to dedicate this success to Gabriele Prodi, our electronics technician who passed away last week".


Then, after all the ceremonies, comes Gerhard Berger. His face marked by fatigue, his eyes shining. It is his ninth victory (five with Ferrari, three with McLaren and one at the wheel of Benetton), perhaps the most coveted.


"It is a special day. I want to dedicate this first place to myself. When I came back to Maranello many had criticised me, others had said that Ferrari had taken a driver in decline. I think I have shown that I can still go fast. And what's more, I have experience that I don't think I have at the moment".


Was the race difficult?

"They all are. At the start Schumacher pushed hard to overtake me, he was always very close. I knew that Michael is a dangerous driver, but once more I realised that with him you cannot make the slightest mistake. I tried to keep the first position, not to exploit tyres and engine too much, given the environmental conditions, with terrible heat. I didn't know what the German would do. I had decided to stop only once. When I saw that he hadn't overtaken me despite having to make two stops, I knew I could do it. Then he pulled out, of course everything was easier. But I couldn't relax. And in the last laps my heart was beating as if I had run the 100 metres. Now we enjoy this success. But we still have a lot of work to do. Ferrari cannot just aim to win one race, it has to fight for the title. We owe a lot to President Montezemolo, who started the recovery. Let's hope he is happy today".


Niki Lauda also speaks. He, the staid champion, doesn't show evident signs of deep emotions, but it is evident that he is happy:

"Gerhard had a great race. You see that Ferrari was right to hire him to rebuild the team. Even if he was paid a little expensive, it was worth it because he is very good. However, this is only the first step. The important thing now is not to rest on your laurels. On the contrary, we need to work harder than before, because the cars still need to be improved".


Jean Todt looks around, looks for all his men with his eyes, as if to thank:

"It was a fantastic weekend. We dominated practice and the race, achieving a result that will serve as a spur to further advance. This is the demonstration that we are working in the right direction, the victory will allow us to intensify our efforts, maintaining the necessary serenity. Now let's party, but tomorrow morning (this morning, ed) at nine we will start working again".


Alain Prost also shows up, here as a commentator on French television, the last winner with Ferrari before Gerhard Berger:

"It was in the air. A victory for Ferrari always gives great emotions to motor enthusiasts. I believe that the right move was to take on Todt who gathered all the forces at his disposal and reformed the team. It's a beautiful day for Maranello, but also and above all for Formula 1".

Now they call him the man of destiny, or better still of Divine Providence. Gerhard Berger has in fact been the protagonist of the two great recoveries of Ferrari in recent years. The Austrian had won in Japan in 1987, after more than two seasons of waiting, and resolved a wait of 58 races without success. And it is not a random result. The character is all to be discovered: behind the appearance of an eternal jovial boy ready to joke, to joke, there is a sensitive, passionate, courageous man, a lover of the dangerous profession he has chosen for a living, after having been tempted for a long time from skiing, a national sport in Tiralo where he was born in August 1959. Berger started racing at the age of twenty in the Alfasud Cup. But he landed in Formula 1 in 1984 without having obtained striking results. Since then he has driven ATS, Arrows, Benetton, Ferrari (from 1987 to 1989) and McLaren. Since last championship he has returned to Maranello, accepting a challenge in which few believed and for which he has also been criticized.

"It is precisely for this reason that first place gave me more than double satisfaction. Because I believed in the team and in myself, because I worked hard, because it wasn't easy. And also because I think this is the beginning of a very beautiful, exciting period. My ultimate goal is not to just win races. I want to fight for the world title. After the Imola accident and the tragic deaths of Ratzenberger and Senna I had had many doubts, there was a moment in which there was also a voice inside me that spoke of retirement. I was able to overcome everything and now I'm happy".

About Senna. Three years in the team with the Brazilian champion have left their mark...


"Of course, I owe him a lot. I can't deny that I suffered a lot next to him as he wasn't a teammate who gave you so much space, especially on the track. But the relationship was very nice. Ayrton taught me to be more professional, less superficial, to look at all the details. In this sense I learned several things. I did the rest with my personal maturation, with the awareness of having an important role in a team of Ferrari's weight. The relationship with Maranello has given me resources that I thought I didn't have and that I want to give back".


The Austrian is also personally involved in the safety issue, as a representative of the drivers' association. Another difficult task...

"Sure, but I do it willingly. Even if as a Ferrari driver I have more difficulties. In the case involving Monza and the Italian Grand Prix, I was very annoyed by the fact that someone insinuated that I moved to favor my team. Instead I just followed the interests of my colleagues, i.e. the pilots. I love Monza and would like to race on that track where, among other things, I achieved my most memorable victory, in 1988 with Ferrari. An unforgettable memory, also because that success came 4 weeks after the death of Enzo Ferrari".


After your success in Germany, what do you expect for the next races?

"We know we still have some chassis problems. So I don't feel like making predictions for the immediate future. It is clear that our cars have become more competitive and, in the case of tracks like Hockenheim, even more successful. But I don't know what will happen in Hungary in ten days' time. We'll do well for sure, but I can't swear on a win. Furthermore, last Sunday we used a version of the new engine which is not the definitive one or even the best. So we can make progress in this area too. Now I'm taking a few days off on my boat on the French Riviera, but I'm ready to get back to work soon".


Ferrari has already scheduled three possible test sessions. One will see Jean Alesi busy on Wednesday 3 and Thursday 4 August 1994 at Fiorano, while Gerhard Berger should do some tests at Mugello on Sunday 7 and Monday 8 August 1994. Between the two sessions there will probably also be an aerodynamic exam at Balocco on the Alfa track Romeo, conducted by Nicola Larini. In the meantime, there is slightly more positive news regarding the Monza circuit. A decision should be taken by the Council of Ministers on Friday 5 August 1994, with a compromise solution (less trees cut down and a different design for the first curve of Lesmo). But everything still needs to be submitted for approval by the FIA and the drivers. On Monday 1 August 1994, Ferrari celebrated its return to victory, interrupting work in the workshops for an hour, everyone pouring out onto the Fiorano track for a toast and a few short speeches. Greetings, thanks and congratulations from the president Luca Montezemolo, a brief speech by Jean Todt, head of sports management, a long round of applause. No outsiders present: just the 250cc racing team, with their managers. No champagne, but classic Italian sparkling wine and some pastries. Then everyone back to work, as planned. Relaxed faces, many smiles. And the unconcealed hope of living more days like these, as soon as possible. Luca Montezemolo leaves the gate of the Fiorano circuit first, on his Lancia, together with his son Matteo and Jean Todt. Even for the number one of Ferrari a little serenity, a bit of joy.

"Fortunately, we are living in a favorable economic moment. The factory is in full recovery: our new cars are reaping successes, they are very popular, sales are growing. We have rediscovered the road to victory in Formula 1, the 333 SPs triumph repeatedly in the Imsa races in the United States and we have also achieved a success in the Granturismo in Japan".


But how did Montezemolo, once sporting director of the team engaged on the track, experience the exhilarating hours of the German Grand Prix?

"As always, alone, at my house, in front of the television. When I watch the races I don't want anyone around, I want to concentrate, notice all the details. When Berger crossed the finish line first, I confess, I also shed a few tears. I was moved, just as our little ceremony was moving. These people from Ferrari are extraordinary, I don't think there is anything like them in the world".


Does it also refer to the fans?


"Certain. They are one of our strengths. None of us in these hours can move without being approached. They compliment us, they encourage us to keep going, they want to know when the next victory will be. I would like to promise immediately, at the next race. But there are also our rivals, we will do everything possible. The important thing is to continue on the same path. We've had a little break now, but we'll get back to work right away. This was a nice injection of confidence".


Many demonstrations of affection, of sympathy, a sign that Ferrari is in the hearts of many. Among the first to telephone the president was the tenor Placido Domingo who was in Japan, and for him it was almost 3:00 in the morning:

"I saw the race, what emotion, what happiness".

And he announces his immediate arrival in Maranello, for Tuesday 2 August 1994. Meanwhile hundreds of faxes and telephone calls arrive in Maranello: among these, that of Bernardo d'Olanda (owner of a collection of Ferraris) and that of Mario Pescante, president of the CONES. After speaking with Jean Todt and the two riders on Sunday at Hockenheim, Giovanni Agnelli also returned. Montezemolo recounts:

"The lawyer called me, he wanted to know more details, he was very happy. He always follows us carefully, he is close to us".


But the people of Maranello also rallied around the team. There were toasts, the parish priest rang the bells in celebration. The fans say:


"We have suffered and waited for a long time, but from now on we expect a lot of satisfaction. The most positive fact? That we are working well and that the cars are competitive. The front row in qualifying proves it. Races can also be affected by different incidents, accidents and breakdowns. But when you go fast, stronger than everyone else, victory will come sooner or later. And so we are ready for more successes".


This is popular philosophy, the one that always has well-founded foundations. Ferrari, therefore, starts from four, there are still seven races to go (if you race at Imola) and at least one more victory before the end of the season can be estimated. And, if all goes well, the fight for the Constructors' World Championship can also be thought of.


©​ 2023 Osservatore Sportivo


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