During the second day of testing, carried out by McLaren, Ferrari, Eurobrun and March, on Wednesday, August 2nd, 1989, Alain Prost works longer than anyone else, completing a total of 82 laps, the best of which in the afternoon in 1'27'79. The Frenchman is forced to stop due to a broken gearbox (the longitudinal one, there are not enough transversal ones for testing) that occurred after twenty laps of the last 42 to finish a Grand Prix simulation. Prost will continue Thursday morning only to be replaced in the afternoon by teammate Ayrton Senna. Gerhard Berger, with technical manager John Bernard present, runs 63 laps, during which he experiments with solutions (an oil cooler in place of the coolers) to the engine and with the new American Penske shock absorbers, which have never been adopted in racing so far. The Austrian's fastest time was 1'29"17. But it must be said that Ferrari is not so much interested in chronometric results, when in the reliability of the changes made in view of the upcoming engagements. Meanwhile, in the environment the hypothesis that McLaren has on the Honda engines a device with which the drivers would have for a few laps at their disposal more power, obviously at the expense of fuel consumption, but extremely useful in case of need for qualifying and overtaking in the race. Foitek's Eurobrun completed 75 laps, obtaining the best time of 1'32"59, and Gugelmin's March completed 11 laps, with a best time of 1'35"47. Testing continues, but Ferrari is expected to have concluded its program, while the other teams will still stop until at least Thursday. Conclusions for these three days of work by the Maranello team are drawn by engineer Ascanelli.
"We had a program to carry out and we stuck to it in full. We had some problems with finishing because of the material that was not freshly used. We had novelties, some you saw, some you didn't. As far as reliability is concerned, we can say that we were moderately satisfied. We had no problems with times, but if the best came, we would have been pleased".
No mention of the modified engine that would be tested at the Romagna circuit, but the results are positive. Now the Maranello team will move to Budapest where the Hungarian Grand Prix will be run on Sunday, August 13, 1989. Gerhard Berger (53 laps, best in 1'27'463) claims to have had comforting indications. However, the best times are obtained by McLarens. Prost concludes his work on Thursday morning, having achieved a time of 1'26"29, slightly better than that achieved by Senna (1'25"33) before the San Marino Grand Prix. The Frenchman completes 52 laps using a modified Honda engine and before leaving the circuit repeats that until the end of the World Championship the difference between McLaren and Ferrari will not change. Immediately afterwards Ayrton Senna begins. The Brazilian goes off the track at Tosa on the third lap, when he makes a time of 1'27"94. The Brazilian driver spins at the end of the straight, burying himself.
"Nothing serious. The brakes were not right. Now they are changing them".
Senna adds that, as Prost did, he will work on the engines.
"It's not a new engine but the development of the one used so far in the races. One must always improve, one cannot stop; a self-respecting team must continue in the development work to improve".
About the likelihood that in the remaining races some other team may win, the World Champion says:
"I think that in the next seven rounds you can also have other results because it's different tracks, different conditions".
On Thursday morning Gregor Foitek, with the Eurobrun, after running about 20 laps (1'32"16) stumbles into an accident that causes him to damage the right front suspension and the nose of his car. Mauricio Gugelmin, in a March, completes 48 laps, the fastest in 1'31"75, without much convincing. Friday, August 4, 1989, McLaren, Eurobrun and March will continue the work. On his second day of practice Ayrton Senna simulates half a Grand Prix with his McLaren. After setting the best time of 1'27"93 in the morning, the Brazilian must wait for the mechanics to finish working on the gearbox, which showed a bearing failure. Then the Brazilian completes six practice laps and stops to make a start. Another 37 laps, fastest in 1'27"24, gradually increasing the pace. On Saturday, the McLaren continues its tests, and it is not excluded that Senna attempts the track record. However, the intent is mortified because on Saturday, August 5, 1989, the breakage of the bolt that fastens the gear linkage to the McLaren's chassis interrupts Ayrton Senna's work, with a quarter of an hour to spare, at the Imola racetrack. After the half Grand Prix done late Friday afternoon, the Brazilian has five hours to complete the development of a different type of Honda engine available for this round of free practice. Electronic problems prevent him from doing so, and numerous pit stops are made during the morning. Senna still completes 34 laps, the best of which was a 1'27"88. At the end of the five-day practice the fastest time remains that of Alain Prost (McLaren), in 1'26"59. Behind him Senna, with a time of 1'27"16, Berger (Ferrari) 1'27"63, Gugelmin (March) 1'31"30 and Foitek (Eurobrun) 1'32"16. Perestroika (a complex of socio-political and economic reforms initiated by the Soviet Union's leadership in the mid-1980s, aimed at reorganizing the country's economy and political and social structure), in Hungary, at least as far as professional sports are concerned, has already arrived some time ago.
For the fourth year, Formula 1 is playing at the Hungaroring, a beautiful circuit some 20 kilometers from the center of the capital, heading east toward the Soviet border. It is with the highest expression of capitalist motoring that sponsors (mostly Italian) have arrived, while luxurious cars also run on the streets, not only the Ferraris of West German tourists, but the sedans of merchants or high party officials that are not the modest and solid Lada but powerful Mercedes and Hinw. As usual, the Italian presence is massive. In a way, the Hungarian Grand Prix, the tenth round of the season, has taken the place of the Austrian Grand Prix, which is frequented by Italian fans. Hordes of tourists with license plates from Messina to Treviso sift through the beautiful and now also restless city, turning around when they see some rickety DDR car drive by, as if imagining all the East Germans about to approach some border to escape to the West. At the circuit there is little talk of politics and a lot of motoring. On Thursday, August 10, 1989, on the eve of the Hungarian Grand Prix, the game is played by making predictions. And everyone is betting on Ayrton Senna. For so many reasons. First of all because this race seems to be traditionally a Brazilian domination: two victories by Piquet in 1986-1987 with Williams-Honda, one success by his younger compatriot last year with McLaren Honda. Aside from the nationality of the winning driver, there is also an absolute domination of the Japanese engine, which so far has won in the three races held. Even Prost, some will say, races with a McLaren-Honda. However, no one dares to name the current leader of the world standings. And there is a precise reason: this is a track where overtaking is difficult, so one would think that Senna, more reckless and also skilled in overtaking maneuvers, would enjoy undoubted advantages. In the last edition of the race Ayrton won in a sprint, leaving his teammate behind. Between the two drivers, the Brazilian and the Frenchman, there continues to be bad blood. On Thursday both Prost and McLaren manager Ron Dennis officially admitted it for the first time. At the press conference, someone reminded Alain that two years ago, when Senna was signed by his team, he said they would make up the strongest pair in the world.
"I confirm it, we are the strongest. It's just that with Ayrton it's absolutely not going well, we're not a couple but two going their own way".
Called into question, Ron Dennis cannot deny it:
"It's true the atmosphere in the team is not idyllic. We would prefer our drivers to be more friends. But they are two professionals, and their behavior fortunately does not affect the results".
The truth is that the two are really on bad terms and the psychological warfare is continuous, in practice and in the race, with Senna and Prost trying to destroy each other. In the end Ron Dennis is right, in any case McLaren remains the team to beat. It is said that the track (modified, with the elimination of a kind of chicane that was after the second corner, and therefore now faster) is less unfavorable than usual to less powerful engines, as they say in the jargon a chassis circuit. If that were the case, Ferrari would have a few more chances, could fight evenly. But it is all to be verified, we must wait at least for the first tests. The Maranello team brings no earth-shattering news, but still must try major changes such as oil coolers instead of heat exchangers (lower temperatures and less weight), Penske dampers and some details in the set-ups. Mansell and Berger, however, are treading carefully, given recent disappointments. Claims the Austrian:
"Someone wrote recently that I want to beat McLaren, that is my next team. That's obvious, I'm clearly racing to win. But maybe they traded a dream for reality". Someone wrote recently that I want to beat McLaren, that is my next team. That's obvious, it's clear that I'm racing to win. But maybe they traded a dream for reality".
As is always the case on the eve of the race, several people are dreaming. They hope Benetton-Ford, which in 1988 came third here with Boutsen; they hope Williams, which also still has to wait for the new car; they hope to recover March, Arrows, Brabham, Lotus. The story about Ferrari's second driver continues inexorably in installments. While the environment is now split between supporters of different solutions and factions (better a young man like Larini, or an expert like Riccardo Patrese), there is always the rumor of an interest in Alain Prost. The Frenchman denies, but also says that ninety percent will remain in Formula 1, far from quitting. Cesare Fiorio, Scuderia Ferrari's sporting director, after having denied any contact in the past, responds to precise question:
"We have never spoken with Prost".
But then he indulges in a sibylline phrase that lends itself to several interpretations:
"But, if he is free, a driver like Prost cannot not be of interest to Ferrari".
The only thing certain is that the two-time World Champion is on the market. Now it remains to be seen who will succeed in making him the most attractive proposals, both on the economic level and on the equally important one of future programs. And then, on Prost's decisions, will depend on all the other movements in a market that could still hold surprises, some final twist of fate. In the meantime, we start again from four wins to three, with Senna's advantage in victories, but also with Prost's supremacy, who has a 17-point advantage thanks to the placings he has achieved. The story is a bit like last year's, except that the Frenchman seems to be less vulnerable and more combative this year. The two drivers now hate each other deeply and openly, so much so that little Alain preferred to say goodbye to McLaren. It was a sacrifice for Prost, but he intends to repay himself by snatching the World Champion title from his rival. They do not speak to each other except for close business reasons, they do not see each other, even that mutual esteem that had sustained the relationship in its most difficult moments has faded. And the battle rages on, even off the track, as here in Hungary, on the eve of the tenth race of the season.
"Prost started off on the right foot, he was lucky, he always made it to the finish line. I, on the other hand, had to retire four times in a row and lost precious points. If I had finished all the races there would be no history, I would have already won the World Championship mathematically. The truth is that he never beat me in the field, he always needed my troubles to win races. This year three wins so far, always when I was largely leading the races and was forced to drop out because of car failures. It seems to me that there is no doubt who is the best and also the fastest".
It is a game, this, that Prost does not like.
"What should I say to someone who took the title away from me last year thanks to the help of someone who put me in a technically inferior condition? When we had equal means, I always made life difficult for him. And if he retired while he was in the lead, it was because I had not yet attacked, because I was waiting for the right moment. And then you don't talk about luck, Ayrton. What happened in the last race in Germany? I was the one in front when with three laps to go my gearbox broke. He was never going to pass me. By now we would be four to three for me, and I would be 23 points ahead and half a title won".
To the sound of proclamations, McLaren's two rivals are booking themselves for another victory, their eighth of the season. But is it possible that first place is only and always a family affair for the British team? In theory, the Hungaroring track should be one of the most favorable for the pursuers, led by Ferrari. A not-so-fast circuit where road holding, the goodness of the chassis, should play a decisive role. Among the candidates to give battle besides Mansell and Berger (the latter also committed against the negative record of ten consecutive retirements) there will also be the Benetton-Ford of Nannini and Pirro, the Williams of Patrese and Boutsen, the Arrows, with Brabham, Scuderia Italia, and Lotus in the role of outsiders. Friday, August 11, 1989, in pole position is a driver who could be from the Maranello team. On the front row we also find a red car. But there is no Ferrari. From the magic box of the Hungaroring come out after the first qualifying round of the tenth round of the World Championship surprise names. Riccardo Patrese in provisional pole position and alongside him Alex Caffi in the Scuderia Italia Dallara. Forza azzurri, it would come to shout, with two of the Italian drivers ahead of everyone, the Formula 1 veteran and one of the younger racers. So, on the day of the fall of the heroes (Prost only third, Berger fourth, Senna sixth and Mansell ninth) Patrese once again jumped out, as had already happened in Brazil, in the first race of the season. The surprise lies not so much in the feat of the 35-year-old from Padova, but in his performance: 1’19”726 new limit of the circuit in the new configuration (3967 meters in length as opposed to 4014 last year, with the suppression of a chicane that practically eliminated two of the track’s 19 corners), at an average of 179.174 km/h, 20 km/h more than in the past. Riccardo Patrese’s Williams Renault, a car expected to be retired in the next race in Belgium to make way for a new model of long gestation, gives McLaren and Ferrari a lesson. Smilingly says Riccardo Patrese:
"The explanation is simple. Ours is an unversatile single seater, it goes better on some particular circuit. But it is far from outdated. I may be able to go faster. But now don’t nag me with the story of my hypothetical move to Ferrari".
If some fans could still bet on the Patrese-Williams pair, no one would have bet on the Caffi-Dallara pair, even though the driver and team from Brescia with mixed fortunes had already had a chance to put themselves on the map, especially on slower tracks.
"The car is going well: the Pirelli tires gave us tremendous help and I did my homework. Let’s hope now that it snows".
To preserve the front row at a circuit where overtaking is prohibitive-a nice advantage. And we come to the fallen, namely McLaren and Ferrari, teams from which more was expected. The men of the British team give a subtle justification. Alain Prost explains:
"Our cars are so sophisticated that on strange tracks they present tuning difficulties. Here we would need more aerodynamic pressure at the front, but if we act in this direction, we immediately ruin the rear tires. However, by something we will improve".
Indeed, the problem exists, and then Senna runs poorly because of an oil leak from the engine, there is traffic that prevents going faster. However, it will be difficult to improve by 1.3 seconds, that is, the margin needed to approach Patrese. Finally, the Ferrari. Unexceptional set-ups, Berger slowed down by Piquet with the second set of tires, Mansell also forced to choose four race tires to do more laps and get his car right. After practice Cesare Fiorio must work balancing miracles to give an acceptable justification for the differences found with the best.
"Patrese’s performance is out of the ordinary and also out of our reach. But our terms of comparison are with the McLarens. We are just over a tenth behind Prost and ahead of Senna with Berger. As for Caffi’s placement, apart from the skill of the driver, I am convinced that this time the credit also goes to Pirelli. We, however, can go a little bit further and the race should see us in a good position. At Silverstone we were far from the McLarens, now we are much closer".
The reasoning is not wrong. One wonders, however, where is all the goodness of the chassis conceived by John Barnard, who even according to the drivers would be the best designer in Formula 1. This is a circuit where the chassis matters quite a bit, and one refuses to think that the Ferrari engine is inferior to the old Cosworth mounted on Caffi’s single seater. The day also records a spectacular accident, fortunately without damage to the driver, a very large crowd. Jonathan Palmer, due to a brake problem, goes off the track at the bottom of the pit straight at 260 km/h, during free practice, destroying his Tyrrell, fortunately only a bruised left shin. At the close of the first day of official practice, a $5.000 fine is imposed on Brazilian Ayrton Senna, who leaves his McLaren with the marshals without staying for the weight of the car at the end of practice, contrary to the rules. Senna ran to get the second car so he could continue testing on the circuit that proved to be hostile. In Friday morning’s pre-qualifying session, the Onyx topped the timesheet for the fourth consecutive Grand Prix. Stefan Johansson was the fastest and his teammate Bertrand Gachot also qualified fourth. Both drivers renew their contracts with the Onyx team for 1990. For the first time this season, Piercarlo Ghinzani advanced to the main qualifying session in second place. For the third time this season, and for the first time since the U.S. Grand Prix, the Italian driver overtakes his Osella teammate Nicola Larini, who qualifies in fifth. Michele Alboreto’s Larrousse-Lola is the other pre-qualifier in third; the Italian is suffering from a cracked rib. His teammate Philippe Alliot drops to sixth and, for the first time, he or a Larrousse does not qualify. The AGS cars of Yannick Dalmas and Gabriele Tarquini are seventh and ninth, respectively, while Zakspeed drivers Bernd Schneider and Aguri Suzuki, still hampered by their underpowered Yamaha engines, are eighth and 12th. Roberto Moreno is tenth with Coloni, while his teammate Pierre-Henri Raphanel fails to get a representative time and ends up at the bottom of the time list in his last appearance with the Italian team. Gregor Foitek also fails to pre-qualify with the new EuroBrun car, as he places in P11.
"I smell victory".
Says, Saturday, August 12, 1989, Riccardo Patrese. And, starting on pole position at the Hungaroring circuit, the Padaun driver could crown his dream. But he would have a terrible opponent on his side, and Ayrton Senna determined to give battle, his glacial gaze fixed and glacially pointed toward a success that would lead him to undermine teammate-rival Prost's lead in the standings. It had been four years (Teo Fabi at Monza in 1986) that an Italian had not started in front. But this time they went too far: five drivers in the top 10, an incredible feast, with Caffi in P3, Nannini P7, Modena P8 and Martini P10. Maybe it's a good time to dust off a result that has been missing from the roll call for five seasons, dated Alboreto, Nurburgring, Sunday, August 4, 1985. And speaking of statistics it must be said that Patrese's feat interrupted a series of seventeen (who says this number is not bad luck?) consecutive pole positions by McLaren, unbeaten since Silverstone 1988. Senna does everything in his power to win that spot on the grid that he feels is rightfully his. The Brazilian puts on a show, getting the best time on the second day of qualifying by turning in 1'20"039, but he remains quite far from Patrese's 1'19"726. Declares the Brazilian at the end of practice:
"I pushed hard but there was nothing to do. Riccardo deserves this pole".
And Riccardo Patrese basically stays watching, taking to the track only when Ayrton Senna has worn out his tires, by now sure that no one, once he failed the god of qualifying would have overtaken him, just to unload, without tension. Senna as usual is still able to miracle a McLaren that is losing competitiveness (Prost P5, worse than the day before). But no one saves Ferrari from the worst chronometric result of the season, P6 for Berger, P12 for Mansell. Says the Austrian driver:
"I turned the car around. The behavior was different each time, but the time always the same, that is, very bad".
Nigel Mansell adds:
"I don't understand, on qualifying tires the others run almost two seconds faster, I run one second slower".
Tuning problems, of, set-ups of the cars. A similar trouble besets McLaren, except that Senna in the final minutes finds the solution to the puzzle, while Ferrari and Prost fail to do so. It is likely, however, that Ferrari will do better in the race. Even last year on this track the Maranello team suffered in practice and on Sunday grabbed an acceptable fourth place with Berger. The whole crux of the matter lies in overtaking, which is very difficult. But the crucial moment will certainly be at the start. Patrese and Senna will play each other at the first corner for a particularly important lead. In Brazil in the first round of the season the two, in opposite positions, found themselves side by side and Ayrton ended up off the track. Now it remains to be seen whether the predictable superiority of the McLaren in acceleration will get the better of them or whether Patrese's courage will bring the World Champion to milder counsels. For the rest, the race, precisely because the track is atypical and difficult (77 laps of the 3967-meter circuit, for 305.459 kilometers, a continuous curve, counter-pendencies, physical endurance of the drivers and mechanics at the limit), may hold any surprises. Patrese and Senna will have to watch out for the pitfalls posed by outsiders, Boutsen, Nannini, Modena, Warwick. The tires could also make the difference, since Pirelli tires, fitted on normally less competitive cars, made the Dallara and Brabham competitive. Alex Caffi on his own was a major surprise. He lost the front row to Senna, but maintained an extraordinary third place, recovering on Boutsen who had overtaken him at the beginning of practice. And watch out for the youngsters, such as Modena and Alesi, authors of the greatest progress. For Ferrari, given the qualifiers, whatever comes (in the race Berger and Mansell are not so pessimistic) will be something gained. Last note: there is also Alboreto, in last position. In his ordeal the Milanese this time added a nearly fractured rib on Friday morning. He runs bandaged to the limit of stoicism.
At the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Riccardo Patrese, Ayrton Senna, and Alex Caffi maintain the starting order at the first corner, while Thierry Boutsen loses ground to Alain Prost as Gerhard Berger passes them both. Further back, Nigel Mansell is the author of a good start, climbing to P8 at the first corner. Soon, however, it becomes clear that Caffi is in trouble: the Dallara is unable to replicate the speed shown in qualifying, and the Italian is soon overtaken by both Berger and Prost and finds himself blocking a group of cars consisting of Boutsen, Nannini, Mansell and Warwick. Nannini exits the group when he stops to change tires. Mansell thus switches to P7, which he quickly turns into P5 by passing Boutsen and Caffi in quick succession. Later, the British driver begins to close the 17-second gap to the leaders and climbs to P4 when Berger pits to change tires. After catching up with the leading group, Nigel Mansell passes Alain Prost and takes third place. Meanwhile, Patrese's Williams begins to develop a problem with a punctured radiator, which slows the Italian driver and regroups the lead group. Eventually, the problem with the punctured radiator on Patrese's car becomes so severe that both Senna and Mansell manage to pass the Italian driver within a few corners. Patrese retires shortly thereafter on lap 54. Taking advantage of the favorable situation, Nigel Mansell begins to put pressure on Ayrton Senna, who is clearly faster but unable to pass because of the extra power of the McLaren's Honda engine. Meanwhile, Prost pits for tires and re-enters P6, while Berger inherits third position only briefly before retiring with gearbox problems on lap 56, leaving Senna and Mansell alone. Eventually, the two close in on Stefan Johansson's Onyx. Senna catches up to the Swedish pilot at an awkward moment, right in the acceleration zone of Turn 3. The Brazilian driver uncharacteristically hesitates the overtaking maneuver, briefly lifting the accelerator pedal, allowing Mansell to pull alongside as the two pass Johansson, and then to take advantage of the Ferrari's increased momentum to pass Senna and take the lead. From this point, Nigel Mansell continued unchallenged until he reached the checkered flag, beating Senna and distancing the Brazilian by nearly 26 seconds, with Boutsen completing the podium. Prost overtook Eddie Cheever's Arrows and took fourth place on the last lap, while Nelson Piquet's Lotus completed the top six. Many of the leading cars had problems with tire vibrations-both Senna and Mansell would complain about this, and even Prost had problems after picking up debris at a time when he was forced off-track to avoid the oil deposited on the circuit floor by Patrese's car. Unbelievable. Sunday, August 13, 1989, marked the first anniversary of Enzo Ferrari's passing, and Ferrari in the Hungarian Grand Prix returned to victory, number 96 in its long and legendary history in Formula 1. It was a surprise after practice had been disastrous. The race consecrated the skill, talent, dedication and the courage of Nigel Mansell, the Englishman whom the Modenese constructor himself had wanted in his team and who by an unfortunate misunderstanding had arrived in Maranello three years late.
"Mansell revive the myth of the number 27".
He implored a yellow-and-black banner hanging from the parapet of the Hungaroring's central grandstand. And the Englishman, 35, obeyed. Driving a finally competitive car, he drove with the grit of Gilles Villeneuve, to whom the Ferrari fans' sign referred. A textbook starts with four cars passed at once, a peremptory overtaking of Alain Prost at a point where the Frenchman did not expect it. And then the masterpiece, a genuine thrill ride over Ayrton Senna on lap 58, in the only real opportunity that had presented itself until then to take the lead in the race. Mansell was able to take advantage of a hesitation on the part of the Brazilian, overtaking the god of overtaking in his favorite terrain, on equal terms, thanks to temperament and guile. All in one of the finest races in recent times, perhaps the most closely fought, the first of two seasons in which McLaren was beaten on the field, that is, on the track, without apology. Boutsen finished third, Prost fourth, Berger and Patrese retired. However, Mansell's feat does not mean that Ferrari has caught up with and surpassed its great rival. A series of favorable concomitances (a particular circuit, an apt choice of tires, perfect set-up, race strategy, driver skill) led to a fabulous result, enjoyable right away, usable as an injection of confidence for the future. This statement, which Enzo Ferrari would have loved so much because of the way it came about, rewards the perseverance and commitment of those who took on such a heavy legacy as a challenge. It is also confirmation that no one is invincible: the great, great Senna can meet, even he, one stronger. And McLaren, far from thinking that it is in irreversible crisis, at least under certain conditions, is surmountable.
Finally, a word for Riccardo Patrese. He took pole position, he was good (and leading the race) until the engine failed him: once again he had to bow to bad luck. But at least this time Ferrari won in the end. So how do we put it? From dust to the altar, in the Ferrari style. In this sense nothing has changed in Maranello. In the race that presented itself as the most difficult of the season, with one car in P6 and the other even in P12 at the start, on a circuit where overtaking is prohibitive, Nigel Mansell won a success as exciting as it was unexpected. It was the second victory of the season for the British driver and for Ferrari. If in Brazil the affirmation had been a bit rocambolic, propitiated by the problems that had slowed Prost and Senna's retirement with Berger at the start, that at the Hungaroring was a clear victory. And the premise had already been there in the morning, when Mansell had set the best times in free practice. Ferrari, after failing in two days of qualifying to fine-tune its cars, centered the setup for the race, putting Mansell and Berger in a position to exploit both the potential of the 640s and the tires. McLaren was unable to do the same. And it showed. Let us also say that Mansell's success was facilitated by yet another trouble that stopped Patrese while he was firmly in the lead. But, looking at the lap times, one can also assume that the Paduan could hardly have resisted the Ferrari driver. Could this success change John Barnard's relationship with Ferrari?
"I have been working in Formula 1 for too long for a victory to plagiarize me. I now have to study the situation calmly, look at my future and decide with a long-term perspective".
But is it possible that Ferrari will now accept his proposals?
"Nothing has been finalized yet and I haven't made any decisions on the matter".
So, could he continue to work with the Maranello team?
"In a way, yes. I talked about it with Alain. I also thought about that possibility, I don't know. Actually, I can't say what I think about doing. Fiorio told me Ferrari's decision not to continue the collaboration. But I, again, for now I have not yet taken a final position. No choice is ideal, although I would really like to stay".
If Fiorio arrived at this time and asked her to stay?
"No. Wait. I was the one who said I was leaving".
This is a verbatim translation of a talk with John Barnard after Ferrari's victory. A surprise, for two reasons. First because the British technician, from whom the Maranello team had announced its divorce for the end of the year, does not yet intend to end the relationship or even a possible solution of continuity. Second because Barnard, after being solicited, speaks of having discussed this issue with Alain, Prost of course. What does this all mean? Perhaps that the Frenchman is negotiating his move to Maranello? Or that the contract has already been signed? In that case, would Barnard try to stay on to partner Prost? Some say that a tug-of-war is underway that involves more than just the sports programs of a few Formula 1 teams. In fact, there is talk that Ford is actually interested in getting the technical-driver pair. At this point it is interesting to hear what Ferrari has to say. Here is Cesare Fiorio's talk, called into question, when he learns that Barnard said he might as well stay at Ferrari:
"He said that? Of course, it's a very nice message. I hope the victory pleased him as well. He is like us engaged in this battle. However, I should point out that there is nothing and we have never talked about such a hypothesis. Are we now communicating through newspapers?"
A happy Barnard, willing to talk, toasting with a glass of champagne. An electrified but restrained Fiorio. This is the Ferrari summit after the victory. Much joy, everyone happy. And some explanation, too. Says John Barnard:
"We realized that in qualifying they had misjudged the response of the cars in using the tires. On Saturday we found that by unloading the aerodynamic pressure the results were very good".
Cesare Fiorio reiterates:
"We had been going strong in race conditions. And there was no doubt that we could not repeat ourselves in the race as well. Certainly, the qualifying times had proven us wrong, and we were ridiculously behind everyone. That's because on our cars the new weather tires were not working well".
Did Ferrari or Mansell win the race?
"Percentages are always inaccurate. However the driver was great, great. However, in our team all the technicians produced outstanding work, they developed a car that in the last four races went on the podium four times. With Mansell also we have a clear relationship of mutual trust. But let's not delude ourselves that we are ahead of McLaren. Let us grow step by step. This statement falls just a year after Enzo Ferrari's passing, and I think this is the best way to remember him".
Nigel Mansell also dedicates this success number 15 in Formula 1 to Ferrari.
"It is one of my most beautiful victories, in fact, after seeing the overtaking Senna on TV, I am sure it is the best. In practice I was not competitive and at the start I was in P12. I asked myself: do I rocket like a kamikaze risking everything, or do I make a more judicious attack tactic? I preferred the second solution, and it was the right one. For 20 laps I saved tires, partly because it was useless to overtake cars that left no space. And with a full tank it was easy to mess up the tires. Because I had mounted softer tires I had to drive with caution. After that I pushed, attacked, but my Ferrari was well balanced. Overtake after overtake I got closer to the leaders. I passed Prost and hooked up with Senna. I saw that he had a moment's hesitation in lapping Johansson, and I knew it was time to take a chance. I closed my eyes and tucked in".
Is the race over?
"Nope. I had to push. Senna was faster than me in the straights. And I was afraid he would take the slipstream of my car to overtake me, So I tried to put between me and him that minimum gap necessary to avoid surprises. When I saw the margin increasing, I said to myself: it's done. The World Championship? On paper there is still hope".
A fan, as the British driver descends a steep concrete staircase, snatches the winner's cap off his head. Nigel stumbles and falls, then gets up again in a bitter rage, chasing after the young man, who is blocked by mechanics and forced, with many apologies, to return the cap.
Smiles a bit strained at McLaren after the race. Says Ayrton Senna:
"I tried to attack Patrese right away because it was important to take the lead at the beginning, but his Williams was faster especially coming out of the corners. Then Riccardo was also a bit lucky in the lapping. I realized it was going to be a rematch race. Ferrari was excellent and Mansell also had a great, great race. He was lucky, too. He passed me when I was slowed down by Johansson. Without this episode the race would have been more exciting and hard-fought to the end. Maybe the Englishman would still have won, but I could have defended myself longer. In the end I had to slow down because I had wheel vibrations and problems with the brakes that had worn too much. I can't say the race was burping, but our cars were really out of place, poorly balanced. You didn't see the real McLaren here".
And now the World Championship?
"I'm happy to have taken six points. After all, I can't afford to make mistakes anymore. A second place is better than a third…".
It is the fair of the obvious. For that matter, even Prost does not say exciting things.
"At the start we tried to surprise Patrese, he still managed to hold the lead. At that point it was difficult to pass him because he was stretching at the exit of the corners. I'm content with my fourth place. Ferrari basically did not surprise me, if anything I was impressed by Mansell who was very good. When he passed me, I realized that his chassis was better than ours. As for the engine, maybe we still have a little more, but this time it was not enough. I hadn't planned to change tires, but I had to because I was forced to pit. Staying behind Patrese, my visor got smeared with oil and I couldn't see anything, I couldn't stay on the road anymore also because on a couple of occasions I ended up in the dirty part of the track. The fact that in the end my direct opponent, that is Senna, did not win is very good for me".
And then the first real smile. On the other hand, Riccardo Patrese is sad:
"After lap 30 the water temperature started to rise, and the engine was losing power. They passed me when I was already in crisis, and I stopped before I broke the engine. What anger".
Seven, two, one. These are the victories, since the beginning of the season, won by McLaren, Ferrari and Williams, respectively. The absolute dominance of the British team mounting Honda engines is cracking. Last year, at the same time, after ten races, Senna and Prost had made the en-plein. In the current championship, on the other hand, the Maranello team had won on debut in Brazil and now in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Williams, on the other hand, had won thanks to Boutsen in Canada. But if in Rio de Janeiro and Montreal McLaren more than beaten had lost through a series of negative circumstances, in the Hungaroring, filled with fans including Italian ones, Ron Dennis' fearsome team was soundly defeated. For the first time Senna and Prost were inferior, that is, their cars did not allow the two drivers to attempt to win. In fact Mansell stuffed both of them big time. The Frenchman by surprise (and Alain even stepped aside at the right moment) and the Brazilian by force, taking advantage of a moment of uncertainty. Says Nigel Mansell again, almost with tears in his eyes:
"I said we would win again before the end of the year. And that's not enough: I am convinced that we will still get some satisfaction. In the meantime, I dedicate this beautiful success to Enzo Ferrari, who just a year ago rendered his soul to God after a life spent among engines".
But has Ferrari really risen to the level of McLaren? Cesare Fiorio answers with great concreteness:
"We should not delude ourselves; the road is still long and full of obstacles. Let us work. For the time being, I want to thank all of our people who have dedicated themselves to the team to get back up the ladder".
So, what is around the corner for the Maranello team?
"The will to return to the top and stay there. However, it will not be easy: our opponents still have considerable advantages. And in the next race, in two weeks at the very fast Spa circuit, it will be tough".
It is true: Ferrari won well, very well, but on a peculiar circuit, at the end of a race conditioned by the exploitation of the tires (as, after all, had also happened in Brazil), when Senna and Prost were not able to fine-tune their cars. However, now McLaren's morale may be cracking. And Honda's Japanese may be losing their mind a little: they have already announced that they will try a modified engine (the fifth different version since the start of the World Championship) that is more powerful and elastic. And it cannot be ruled out that by dint of changing, exasperating, and seeking additional advantages they will not end up losing their way. From Tuesday, meanwhile, almost all the teams, for three days, including Ferrari, will be in Monza for a series of tests. The Maranello team will bring a car driven by Nigel Mansell. A chance to celebrate with enthusiastic Italian fans. On Monday, August 14, 1989, Nigel Ernest James Mansell spends a day off with his family, with his wife Rosanne, children Chloe, Leo and Gregg, on his Isle of Man in Pori Erin, where the meadows are not as green as they used to be and there is a Mediterranean sun. Relaxation is an important factor for the Ferrari driver. Not least because there are few free periods available, and on Tuesday he will have to be in Monza for a series of tests that will last until Friday. Therefore, having completed the usual formalities, i.e., interviews and TV one-sidedness, the mustachioed Englishman escapes home. Privacy, golf, fishing are the batteries that recharge Mansell, a racer who spends a lot on racing, who never backs down when there is even the slightest chance of attacking his opponents. But it must be said that Nigel before the race, at the end of which he would get his fifteenth win, his second with Ferrari, says he is confident, that the car is going well, that the only problem is overtaking, which is prohibitive on the Hungaroring circuit because of the characteristics of the track, which is curved and rather narrow.
"The secret is at work. I won because I had deepened throughout the weekend, that is, in practice, the knowledge of the tires. You know that on every track the behavior of the tires is always different. That's why I had driven a lot with the ones I would later use in the race. It was the right move, along with some sensible tweaks to the set-up of the car that we only discovered on Saturday afternoon. In fact, it was understood that by relieving the aerodynamic pressure, the road holding did not suffer, and the tires behaved in the best possible way, as indeed they did".
However, the question that fans, indeed everyone, is asking is this: was Ferrari's success random or rather lucky as it had happened in Brazil, or are we at the first sign of a real recovery at the top?
"I don't think you can say that it was solely good luck that helped. Only Patrese retired ahead of me. If you look at the standings, you will see that behind me are Senna, Boutsen and Prost, that is, the strongest of the moment, except for the Italian, with the best cars. So, let's say that we deserved the success, also considering the fact that I started from 12th place. The car has improved, we have found some reliability. However, this does not mean that from now on we will always stay ahead of McLaren, on the contrary. In two weeks in Spa, it will be very hard. The most favorable tracks would be Estoril, Jerez and Adelaide. The important thing is to put pressure on Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, force them to pull and possibly make mistakes".
How does he see Ferrari?
"I know they are doing everything they can. Strangely enough, I got along better with the Italians than with the British who work for Maranello. I mean, with Barnard I didn't really connect. Also, I'm incredibly relaxed. I think this can be considered one of my best years, regardless of the results. At Williams I had a lot of commitments, especially because the team had a huge number of sponsors, and I spent my evenings at dinners and presentations. Now I can devote more time to myself, and I feel improved, also as a man".
Mansell has already signed on for another year at Ferrari, which then has an option to possibly run for 1991 as well. Do you think Berger left because you are too fast?
"I don't think so. If I had a chance to go to McLaren, with the Honda engine exclusively, even now, under the right conditions, I would think about it because I also want to win races and maybe a world title. As for the Austrian, I know I made life difficult for him at certain times. But I didn't do it on purpose, I just tried to do my job well".
Indeed, Mansell has always taken his job seriously from the beginning. When in 1977 at the age of 24 (and thus not a very young man, having been born in Upton-on-Sevem on August 8, 1953) he made his motorsport debut at Mallory Park in a Formula Ford Hawke, he won immediately, at the first race. To finance the sporting activity, he sold his house and interrupted promising studies in engineering. In addition, he overcame quite a few difficult moments, including a few accidents in which he risked real injury.
"Fortunately, one almost never looks back. I am happy and thinking about the future. Ferrari is now an integral part of my life, so much so that I have opened a dealership. And I can only make one promise: before the end of the season, I will try to achieve at least a tris, that is, to win a third victory. The rest will depend on the technicians, indeed on all the men in the team. If they give me a competitive car, next year I will try to win the World Championship. Nigel Mansell's word".
The memory of men is short, but how can one fail to remember, a year after his death, Enzo Ferrari? Nigel Mansell did it Sunday in the most beautiful way, winning the Hungarian Grand Prix in one of those cars that were the Modenese manufacturer's one true great passion. And family and friends commemorated him, exactly one year after his death, at the small cemetery where Ferrari rests. To repeat here what the gentleman from Maranello was and what he represented in the history of motor racing seems pointless. He constituted a legend when he was still alive; now he has become a myth. Books, stories, reenactments follow one another: each tries to report a slice of the complex adventure of a man who from nothing created a company and found himself weaving the webs of the lives of many other men, pursuing a dream of freedom that brought him joys and sorrows and, in his twilight, also much bitterness. What is left of Enzo Ferrari today? A moral legacy and a material one. First: the lesson of a fighter who loved above all to win and, even amid mistakes and shortcomings, knew how to look more to the future than to the past; second: the taste for work and commitment, the eagerness to improve, through his creatures made of plastic and metal, himself. And these sophisticated creatures of his, both those that race and those that travel the world's roads, are even more coveted today than they were yesterday. For a Ferrari one can do crazy things. Maranello churns out about 4.000 grand touring cars each season, and those who want to have one have to wait months, years. Models from the heroic times (from the end of the war to the 1950-1960 period) are priceless and disputed by collectors. And the F40, the berlinetta created to commemorate the forty years of the Cavallino, so very recent, but produced in a limited series (800 examples), is worth almost 2.000.000.000 liras. In this year, of course, many things have changed in Maranello, the small town on the Emilian plain that once lived off agriculture and is now a center of engineering and ceramics industries. Fiat has taken over Ferrari in its entirety, management has been changed, executives and technicians have taken turns at the top in an attempt to keep the Ferrari name alive and, above all, to make it back to the top of Formula 1.
This was no easy feat, for two reasons: in recent years Ferrari had gone through stormy times, the protagonist of a technical crisis that not even the Grand Old Man's latest choices had managed to thwart. It was necessary to recover from a bad situation, and quickly. Second, when inheriting a name like this everything becomes more complicated, and many are the critics ready for harsh comparisons with the past. And it is still too early to say whether the undertaking, in which Cesare Romiti himself is participating with very special attention, is succeeding. The 1989 world championship has so far given Ferrari two successes and a series of placings, offering the Scuderia Ferrari the role of McLaren and Honda's number one adversary. But that's not enough: in Formula 1, and let's turn De Coubertin's age-old maxim upside down, what counts above all is winning, proving oneself stronger than other teams. And the Maranello team has not yet achieved this goal. However, and this is of special importance today, the new men of the Maranello team are proving that they are practicing the ways of the Grand Old Man: hard work, commitment to the limit, desire to win. And Nigel Mansell is confirming that he is the driver Enzo Ferrari dreamed of: determined, combative, courageous. The parable of the champion, who, having achieved success, empties himself of stimulus, does not apply to him. He never touched, for that matter, Ferrari either. This in Maranello they must never forget. In a simple and austere ceremony, officiated by three Capuchin friars, the family remembered Enzo Ferrari. The religious service, also attended by some of Ferrari's friends and executives, is held at the San Cataldo cemetery where Ferrari rests next to his son Dino, wife, parents and brother. The commemoration begins at 11:00 a.m. Piero Lardi Ferrari arrives first with his mother Lina Lardi, wife Floriana and granddaughter Antonella. Piero Ferrari receives friends and relatives at the threshold of the chapel. Piero Fusaro, president of Ferrari, and Cesare Fiorio, sporting director of Scuderia Ferrari, also arrive later.
"It is difficult to find the right words for this circumstance, so many have already been said".
In the morning, representatives of the City and Province of Modena lay two wreaths of flowers next to the engineer's grave. In the afternoon, Ferrari mechanics inaugurate an exhibition of (partly unpublished) photos and trophies from the victories of the red racing cars.