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#578 1995 European Grand Prix

2023-01-11 23:00

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#1995, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Francesca Zamparini,

#578 1995 European Grand Prix

Most people like the choice of Ferrari. In the fans’ dens, in the bars of the area, on Tuesday 26 September 1995 in Maranello nothing else is said: "S

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Most people like the choice of Ferrari. In the fans’ dens, in the bars of the area, on Tuesday, September 26th, 1995, in Maranello it is all everybody is talking about:

 

"Since Alesi will be leaving, it's better if a nice, aggressive and fast driver arrives".

 

Of course, Eddie Irvine, the latest acquisition of Scuderia Ferrari, the 58th driver in Formula 1 to drive a car manufactured in Maranello, will have to earn the affection of the fans on track, but at least there is an anticipatory approval. And after all, Schumacher will also have his work to do to get into people's hearts, that is, he will have to go fast and win. The signing of the Northern Irishman answers in advance the questions about the co-driver: the 1996 line-up is ready. The reason behind the choice and the background of it remain to be explained. Irvine, who will turn 30 on Friday, November 10th, 1995, has a one-year contract with an option from Ferrari for another two seasons. He is paid a little less than 5.000.000 dollars, but half of the amount goes to Jordan, who had an agreement with the pilot on that matter. In the next two years, if he is reconfirmed, Eddie will always earn the same amount. But how did the decision come about, obviously linked to the other movements of the drivers’ market? Luca Montezemolo, who also confirms his absolute trust in Todt and his work, tells:

 

“I met him by chance at the Argentine Grand Prix. It was raining, and he stopped me, I didn't know who he was. He told me he had a Ferrari GTO, and asked if I could do something to help him because in Ireland he found spare parts a bit expensive. An outgoing type, full of energy. I have followed him closely ever since. A strong character, fairly cheeky, a fighter with a pinch of madness. The Irish have a similar temperament to us. So, when the opportunity arose to hire him, considering it was good for our line-up, we decided to take him. Schumacher has already talked to him, I think they will get along".

 

The president of Ferrari continues:

 

"I thought about it a lot, and I would have liked to choose among our Italian drivers. But then I remembered what Enzo Ferrari said. Living alongside Schumacher would have been difficult. If the German had crushed them with his talent, we would have been in trouble. But we will try to help Larini and Morbidelli. Todt spoke to Jordan and Sauber about them".

 

And speaking of Jacques Villeneuve, Luca Montezemolo admits:

 

"We had an interest in the young Canadian. But we didn't deepen the contacts because Schumacher was secured by now, and we thought we'd keep Berger. By the time the Austrian said he was leaving, it was too late. Jacques was already with Williams".

 

Montezemolo concludes:

 

"Today we let four Italian drivers test the Ferrari at the Fiorano track. They are Morbidelli, Badoer, Fisichella and Martini. There is no obligation whatsoever on our part and on the part of the drivers. This is just an exploratory phase to get to know each other better. But it does not exclude that some of them may be employed in some way. In 1996, we will have two teams for testing, and we will need some competitive guys".

 

To tell the truth, Nicola Larini, who in the meantime is testing at Fiorano, did not like Ferrari's decisions very much. 

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He hoped to be chosen for the seat. The Italian driver, declaring himself disappointed, says that at this point Formula 1 no longer interests him, and that he will continue his activity in Germany, in the DTM. Meanwhile, Ferrari is still looking for some good results before the end of the season. He trusts Jean Alesi (who received a fine of 330.000.000 lire for his behavior in Estoril but could also be forgiven) and Gerhard Berger. For this reason, after the European Grand Prix, which will take place at the Nürburgring circuit, some modifications to the cars will be tested to face the three final races in the best way possible. In the meantime, a hybrid single-seater will be taken to the track next week for the first practical tests of the new V10 engine. But the most awaited moment will come in November. In the following weeks, presumably around Tuesday, November 14th, or Wednesday, November 15th, 1995, Michael Schumacher will officially arrive in Maranello for the first time. And he will first try the V12 and then the V10. Luca Montezemolo says:

 

"From the World Champion we expect not only a great contribution to track related work, but also and above all to the boost and motivation within the whole team, in order to get back to the top".

 

Meanwhile, Ukyo Katayama leaves the hospital in Lisbon, where he was hospitalized for a head injury after the accident at the start of the Portuguese Grand Prix. However, next Sunday he will not be back yet: at the Nürburgring, for prudential reasons, his place will be taken over by Gabriele Tarquini, official reserve and test driver for Tyrrell. On Wednesday, September 27th, 1995, Michael Schumacher was the protagonist of a car accident, rear-ending a lorry on the German motorway A4. Fortunately, the driver got out unhurt from the impact. The collision occurs as the Benetton driver travels from his hometown Kerpen to the Cologne Airport.

 

"The road was wet, and I was fiddling with the car stereo, when I suddenly had to swerve into the hard shoulder, thus crashing into a trailer truck".

 

Minor damage to both vehicles.

 

"After a short stop in the pits, I was able to restart. The truck driver, incredulous, even asked for an autograph".

 

Meanwhile, Luca di Montezemolo is giving a lesson in Modena for the beginning of the academic year of the engineering faculty, and on this occasion, the president of Ferrari talks about the human resources placed at the core of the reorganization of the Maranello company. They talk about the next round, they call it the European Grand Prix, but it should be the one dedicated to winter. Polar cold for Formula 1, which rediscovers the Nürburgring, the renewed circuit of course, the same one where two races were held in 1984 and 1985, won respectively by Alain Prost with McLaren and Michele Alboreto for Ferrari. Waiting to discover the data on a semi-unknown track and with the danger of bad weather and frost, there is still talk about the drivers’ market. Two hits scored in a few hours: Eddie Irvine at Ferrari and Martin Brundle at Jordan, in the place left vacant by the Northern Irish driver. Irvine does not flinch, even though on Thursday, September 28th, 1995, he is the protagonist of a press conference with Eddie Jordan and Jean Todt, the past and the future. Witty, disenchanted, the Jordan driver talks about himself and his ambitions, the great opportunity he will have to race with the cars from Maranello. But had Eddie Irvine ever thought that one day he would have been driving one of the Maranello cars?

 

"Why not? Anything can always happen in life. As a child, I never thought I'd live in Macao or Tokyo, as it happened to me as a driver. Sure, I'm very happy".

 

When was the passion for cars born?

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"Ever since I was little. My father is a big fan of motorsports. He comes from the sector: he’s a car wrecker to sell used spare parts and deals with second-hand cars…".

 

Have you ever thought about other sports?

 

"Not really, I just love driving race cars. Yes, I like golf and swimming and sometimes I go fishing too. But I'm not a fan. Not even reading, I was a disaster at school. I prefer girls".

 

A joke. They say you are very fond of beer and whisky. Will you adapt to wine?

 

"No, wine no...".

 

Aren't you afraid of the pressure you will feel at Ferrari and the Italian press?

 

"In my career, I've had so many problems that the rest doesn't scare me any more. First, I didn’t have any money. Then at my debut in Formula 1, at the first race, I had an argument with Senna…".

 

And cohabitation with Schumacher? Todt said Schumacher will be the number one driver and Irvine the number two within the team.

 

"Michael is the best in Formula 1. I can only learn from him. I'm not worried. I think Ferrari will give us both the same car in the end".

 

What if one day you were to find yourself in front of the German, and they asked you to let him pass?

 

"Before giving an answer, I should try to be in front of him".

 

Do you think you can replace Alesi in terms of affection of the fans? Will you drive with the heart?

 

"Normally, I don't drive the car with my heart but with my bottom…".

 

Someone argues that Eddie Irvine is a bit crazy...

 

"Me, crazy? No, the rest of the world is, that means the others".

 

What do you know about Italy?

 

"Monza, Imola, Vallelunga, Milan, Bologna, Rimini, Ancona. But I love Chinese cuisine".

 

A nice character, but above all a fast driver, at least that is what it seems. We will see if the comparison with Schumacher will confirm the impression. Also because so far Irvine has won only one important race, a Formula 3 heat in 1988 in Macao. And then, he was hired as second in Ferrari, which is quite a coup. 

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Speaking of the upcoming European Grand Prix, David Coulthard, who will officially be with McLaren on Sunday, says:

 

"I was pressured and had signed for some time. I was hoping for an opportunity to reopen, but it didn't happen. Honestly, I would have liked to go to Ferrari".

 

David Coulthard got a taste for being the best. And on Friday, September 29th, 1995, he insisted on beating his teammate Damon Hill, who was fighting for the victory of the world title with Michael Schumacher. In fact, the Scotsman was the fastest in the first qualifying session of the European Grand Prix, disturbed after half an hour by the rain. But the first few minutes were enough for the pious Williams to beat all his opponents with great authority, distancing Damon Hill by 0.2 seconds, Michael Schumacher by 0.7 seconds, Gerhard Berger by a second, and inflicting heavier gaps on Eddie Irvine and Jean Alesi. Now two are the worried ones. The first is Damon Hill, repeatedly beaten and ridiculed by the overtake of the German in Portugal. But Michael Schumacher also has his problems:

 

"I don't think I'll be able to improve, Benetton is less quick than Williams, there's not much we can do. However, I hope for the race, where I have more room for manoeuvre".

 

An honest average day for Ferrari. Good Gerhard Berger, bad Jean Alesi. But it is not the Frenchman's fault. In the morning, Jean Alesi went off track and damaged the car. In the afternoon, despite careful checks, we realize that the tooth of a gear in the steering box had bent. And the work to repair the damage does not allow Jean to express himself to the fullest. After the previous Sunday's storm, Alesi appears serene. Perhaps his outburst allowed him to vent his anger, too.

 

"Those were things I wanted to say. When something is wrong, I must let it known. Other than that, I'm here, ready to do my duty. I had some problems on the first day, but the car is not that bad. The atmosphere in the Ferrari pits is normal. I would have liked to win in Monza, I still have four not so impossible possibilities. I'd like to end my stay in the Maranello team by bringing home at least one more victory after the one in Canada".

 

Jean jokes:

 

"And then I retire. No, I will race in another team. But I will leave, taking many memories with me and leaving many friends".

 

The situation has been clarified, then?

 

"I repeat. My outburst hadn't been caused by an animal bite. I wanted to clarify certain things in public. I didn't speak with the lawyer Montezemolo, but with Todt. We explained each other. Now, my stance is not a problem. Even the $200.000 fine is not: I have the option to spend this money. In a certain sense, I’m paying for the responsibilities that I have assumed. Todt let me know that he will work to get the fine removed. If so, I'll give $100.000 to children I've been helping for a while. They are Sicilian orphans".

 

Also the dispute with Niki Lauda is settled. The Austrian manager is again in the Ferrari pits and says that the Maranello team's choice to hire Eddie Irvine is a good one:

 

"Because he’s a fast and hard-headed driver".

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But there is never lasting peace in the Maranello team, it seems that fate enjoys putting it in the middle of the controversy. With Alesi calm, it is Gerhard Berger, in a press conference held every Friday with six Formula 1 personalities drawn by lot (in addition to the Austrian, Eddie Irvine, Gabriele Tarquini, the engineer Mario Ilien and Peter Gillitzer, head of the sport for Ford Europe) to raise other controversies. The Austrian driver harshly attacked Giancarlo Baccini, Ferrari press officer, accusing him of posing as if he were Enzo Ferrari and of being the main cause of all the problems that have troubled the team in recent years, of being useless and harmful. A serious, sterile, and unjustified public controversy that could have interested the protagonists at most. Specifically, Gerhard gives the impression of having played a part. As if the accusations were part of an attempt to destabilize Ferrari, which began when they hired Michael Schumacher. First, Todt and Ascanelli, now the head of the press office. Tomorrow who? Meanwhile, Dr. Isseraian, the French doctor appointed by the FIA to carry out anti-doping controls in Formula 1, calls six drivers at the end of the first qualifying session for another exam after the one carried out in Estoril. David Coulthard, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Olivier Panis, Massimiliano Papis and Rubens Barrichello are called to the medical centre. It is not known, however, whether the test results will be made public or not. However, it is somewhat surprising that the controls are carried out in such a rapid succession after they had been abandoned for about three years.

 

"Help Damon Hill? Absurd. If I'm in the lead and Williams asks me to let him pass, I won't obey. The only thing I can do is try to win and help the team win the Constructors' World Championship".

 

David Coulthard, who will be officially announced by McLaren as a driver for next year on Sunday (there will also be a role for Alain Prost as test driver and consultant), becomes an ally of Michael Schumacher. Two against one, therefore, with the English caught in the middle. Coulthard will start from pole position at the European Grand Prix. On this track where overtaking is difficult, that advantage gained on Friday, when the Scotsman was fastest, is important. It is the fourth time he has succeeded this year, the third in a row. On Saturday, September 30th, 1995, practically nothing changed in the grid, due to the wet track from the rain until almost the end of qualifying. Just seven drivers manage to improve their times: Michael Schumacher, Jean Alesi, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Rubens Barrichello, Taki Inoue, Pedro Paulo Diniz and Roberto Moreno. But only the Japanese moves up one place, from P22 to P21. The weather forecast is uncertain. So anything can happen. The Williams appear to be quicker, and David Coulthard looks fitter than Damon Hill. But watch out for Michael Schumacher at his home circuit. The German always gives his best in the race. Even if, for reasons of ranking opportunity, he could limit himself to check his rival, Damon Hill. On the other hand, Ferrari has some chance of hoping for a good placement, with Gerhard Berger in P4 and Jean Alesi in P6. Meanwhile, the Maranello team moves up a gear regarding the 1996 schedule and on Tuesday, October 3rd, 1995, they will make the new 10-cylinder engine debut early, on a hybrid car driven by Nicola Larini. 

 

But at the end of the tests, another matter is shaking the world of Formula 1, as Rubens Barrichello and Massimiliano Papis might be declared positive after the anti-doping test on Friday, but above all after the two drivers report themselves to the FIA. To cure his cold, the Brazilian used a spray, Afrin (a South American product), while the Italian driver ingested two tablets of Triaminil Flu. Both medicines contain ephedrine, a doping substance which has already claimed many victims: among others, Merckx, and Maradona. But it seems that in any case, the two pilots will not suffer serious punishments when the results are announced in about ten days. At most, they could receive a fine. First: the FIA, despite having adopted the list of prohibited substances by the IOC, is not part of the Olympic federations and above all has not foreseen any penalties in the event of doping in its sporting code. Second: the leaders of the FIA itself let it be known, unofficially, that the initiative started to find out if the drivers use harmful hard drugs. But the impression is that the FIA has acted lightly: what is the point of the checks if then you cannot or do not want to punish those who are caught using illegal substances? However, the two interested parties are relaxed. Rubens Barrichello says:

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"That medicine was recommended by my mother".

 

While Massimiliano Papis smiles and says:

 

"I took a product that children use". In truth, there is no doping culture in Formula 1, because it has never been taken seriously. Niki Lauda says:

 

"Certain stimulants are not needed in motor racing. All you need is concentration, lucidity, and courage. Of course, if the FIA investigates hard drugs, it's a good thing, but the rest are useless stories".

 

Lauda also explains that an interview that will appear in the newspaper Epoca, in which he repeats that Ferrari will never win by relying on Todt, was recorded before there was any clarification between the two. In the event of the evening, among other things, the team managers make some decisions for next year: no third driver, and only free practice will take place on Friday. Qualifying will only take place on Saturdays. On Sunday, October 1st, 1995, the start of the European Grand Prix takes place on a wet track with most of the drivers using wet tyres. Only Ferrari and McLaren choose dry tires for both drivers. David Coulthard, who started from pole position, was forced to start with the reserve car as he went off track in the formation laps preceding the race. At the start, the Scottish driver maintains the first position while Damon Hill gets off to a bad start, pushed by Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine. At the end of the first lap, Hill overtook the Jordan driver and took third place. In the first laps, David Coulthard leads Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Eddie Irvine, Johnny Herbert, and Jean Alesi. Gerhard Berger instead got off to a bad start and is only in P9. Right from the start Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill pressed David Coulthard, who was not at ease in these conditions with the reserve car. The McLarens of Mika Häkkinen and Mark Blundell, who started in P9 and P10, plunged to the back of the group with a wrong set-up unlike the Ferraris, which despite their slick tires manage to keep up with the others. On the fourth lap, Jean Alesi overtook Johnny Herbert and took P5, demonstrating that dry tires are now the most useful for the conditions of the Nürburgring circuit. In fact, drivers with wet tires are forced to leave the ideal trajectory to look for water along the circuit. On lap 8, Jean Alesi also overtook Eddie Irvine and took fourth place, which also made him the fastest on track. 

 

On lap 10, Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill pitted for dry tyres, followed the next lap by David Coulthard. Jean Alesi was therefore in the lead, followed by Eddie Irvine (still on wet tyres), David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher, Gerhard Berger, and Damon Hill. The latter manages to pass Berger at the chicane on lap 14. A little later, Eddie Irvine returns to the pits and leaves second place to David Coulthard, while a good duel for third position ensues between the two title contenders. Damon Hill overtakes Michael Schumacher on the inside in turn 3, but the German reclaims the position on starting straight. After 18 laps, Jean Alesi leads by 23 seconds on David Coulthard and 26 on Michael Schumacher, who is closely followed by Damon Hill and Gerhard Berger. Eddie Irvine, who closes the points zone, is one minute behind the leader. On lap 21, Michael Schumacher passed David Coulthard and took second position, taking advantage of the McLaren lapping Mika Häkkinen. Two laps later Damon Hill and Gerhard Berger also overtook David Coulthard, but the Ferrari driver stopped in the pits to change the now worn-out tyres, which he had been using since the start of the race. The Austrian returns to the track in fifth place. Jean Alesi meanwhile gains about 2 seconds per lap over all the other competitors, moving to 42 seconds ahead of Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill at the end of lap 30. A little later, Johnny Herbert attacks Eddie Irvine for sixth position but misses the move and touches the Jordan of the Northern Irish driver, having to return to the pits to change the front wing. Rubens Barrichello takes advantage of this and thus moves into sixth position. On lap 34, Jean Alesi and Michael Schumacher pitted. The Maranello team puts fuel in the tank of the Frenchman's car to go all the way to the end of the race and never stop again, unlike Michael Schumacher who stops for only 7 seconds and will have to make another stop. 

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After the pit-stop of the two, Jean Alesi still leads by 4 seconds over Damon Hill, 24 over David Coulthard and 28 over Michael Schumacher. However, the two Williams drivers still have to make their pit stops. Damon Hill quickly catches up with Jean Alesi, being lighter in fuel, and attacks him in turn 3. However, the Englishman misses his overtaking and loses his front wing, just on the lap in which he had to stop to change tyres. The Williams driver remained in the pits for 32 seconds, while Gerhard Berger was forced to retire due to an electrical problem on lap 40. With 20 laps to go, Jean Alesi leads the race with a 10-second lead over Michael Schumacher (largely recovery, being lighter), 43 seconds over David Coulthard and 54 seconds over Damon Hill. The Jordans of Rubens Barrichello and Eddie Irvine close the points zone. Michael Schumacher catches up with Jean Alesi, but before trying to attack he stops to make the last pit stop, with 15 laps to go. The World Champion is back on track, 22 seconds behind Jean Alesi, but his tires are much fresher. Meanwhile, Damon Hill tries to reduce the disadvantage against David Coulthard, while a mistake by Eddie Irvine allows Johnny Herbert to enter the points zone. Michael Schumacher is significantly faster than Jean Alesi and with 8 laps to go he is already 7 seconds behind the Frenchman. During lap 58, Damon Hill, while trying to catch up on David Coulthard, makes a serious mistake on turn 8, losing his car and crashing into the barriers, thus losing all hope of winning the World Championship. With 4 laps to go, Michael Schumacher reduced the gap from Jean Alesi's Ferrari, and during the third to last lap he attacked the Frenchman at the chicane and passed him on the outside with a great manoeuvre. Thus, Michael Schumacher wins the European Grand Prix, followed by Jean Alesi, David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, Johnny Herbert, and Eddie Irvine. Michael Schumacher does not forgive, he is relentless. The Benetton driver, reigning World Champion, could also have settled for a second place. But after seeing his rival Damon Hill stopping in the grass, the German let loose and won a race that could (and perhaps should have) been won by Jean Alesi and Ferrari. Seventh success of the season for the Benetton driver, number 17 in his career. A first place which in practice is also worth the second world title: Schumacher is now 27 points ahead of the English driver from Williams. It will be enough to win three more to close the matter, even if Hill wins all three of the last races of the season. 

 

The success of the German driver came at the end of a European Grand Prix which proved to be one of the most spectacular, hard-fought, and exciting appointments in recent years. The race lived on the duel between Schumacher and Alesi. First from a distance, then in a head-to-head that ended with Michael's final overtaking on the Frenchman. A thrilling overtaking straight out of the manuals, inside the only chicane of the circuit. A narrow S that Schumacher himself had asked the Nürburgring managers to create for safety reasons. A work that cost around 2.500.000.000 lire, criticized by many drivers, but that earned its creator a great victory and perhaps the world championship. Ferrari, in uncertain climatic conditions (rain throughout the morning, then fog and looming clouds, but the track was drying up by the time of the start), gambled. Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger were the only ones, along with the McLaren drivers (Mika Häkkinen and Mark Blundell), to start on the slick tyres. Schumacher, like all the others, for reasons of prudence, preferred to mount treaded tires for wet conditions. The strategies rewarded the Maranello team. However, Michael Schumacher won the duel with Jean Alesi, the Ferrari driver of the future against the one of today. But it was not an equal challenge, and it absolutely cannot be said that the Frenchman lost because he is less fast or less talented. Once again, the cars and above all the circumstances made the difference. The men of the Maranello team had chosen to risk by starting off with slick tires on a track that was still damp with rain, taking a chance precisely to make up for the performance shortcomings of the 412T2. Thus, Alesi, having changed the tires only once, after gaining a lead of over 43 seconds in the first part of the race, found himself in the second part grappling with three consecutive problems: a large load of petrol which slowed him down at the start, a series of impossible lappings (being heavy, the Italian car was unable to overtake Häkkinen and Brundle for approximately ten laps), and finally excessive tire wear. In the finale, the Frenchman was unable to defend himself from the reckless attack of the German, who had a perfect single-seater. Jean was also forced to run off the track to attempt the impossible and this cost him the victory. One wonders if Ferrari would not have done better to make two stops for supplies. 

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Beyond the direct confrontation between the two drivers, both very good, Schumacher demonstrated, if there was still a need, that he is absolutely gifted: he never loses heart and has extraordinary determination. Another driver, in his place, with the world title practically won, could also have been satisfied, the German instead aimed at full success at the European Grand Prix. The temperament, concentration, fussiness, and the needs of the Benetton driver are the qualities on which Ferrari will have to focus in 1996. Schumacher's task will not only be to push his foot on the accelerator, but also to unite and stimulate the team. And perhaps that will be the biggest problem. There is no one better than Alain Prost, a driver who raced for Ferrari in the 1990 and 1991 seasons and close to winning the World Championship in his first year, who can evaluate the Ferrari-Schumacher operation either positively or negatively.

 

"Michael is an adult and master of his own choices. I respect his decision and the challenge he accepted, and I'm not one to criticize him, saying he did it for the money. He wanted to opt for a difficult and ambitious road, a challenge that only a true champion can understand".

 

But is it wise to leave a winning team for one that is still in trouble?

 

"This year, in certain racing conditions, the Ferraris have been excellent cars. What was missing above all was continuity. The red cars unfortunately appeared more erratic than their rivals. I think development has been lacking. We started from a good single-seater, but the technicians and drivers couldn’t make it progress like Williams and Benetton did. When the chassis was good, it was the engine that created difficulties and vice versa".

 

In these days, the new V10 engine will start running.

 

"That could be an extra problem, because perhaps it will create doubts, uncertainties and waste of time. This is why I say that, in Schumacher's place, I would have waited a little longer to go to Ferrari. He did it too soon, it would have been better in a year or two. But I think Michael will have courage and will work hard to resolve any problems in his favour".

 

What advice could be given to the German?

 

"It’s a difficult task, also because in this case the charm of a team that has no equal must be considered. But when Michael is at Ferrari, he could have some surprises. You must work in Maranello to understand what's going on. And sometimes it can be too late. You don't always get what you hoped for. If Schumacher makes it there, that will be one of his greatest merits. But he will have to act harshly and be followed by those who really command the team, who in some ways will have to give him carte blanche, within the limits of the interventions that a driver can and must make in a team. So far, however, he has shown that he is up to par".

 

Before departure, the police had searched the pits, but had not found the bomb reported by an anonymous person on the phone. Then the joke was understood: the bomb was Michael Schumacher. Classy, such a confidence.

 

"Winning the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim represented an unforgettable day for me. Having repeated myself at the Nürburgring, it's unbelievable. I really didn't hope for it halfway through the race, I thought that by now the first place was compromised and that I could be satisfied with a placement. Instead, it went well. In the end I pushed hard, for my fans who came here in large numbers. Excellent".

 

The battle with Alesi?

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"It was tough but correct. Jean gave me some space. I know he's not a driver who makes irregular manoeuvres and I gave it a go, on the outside at the chicane. He gave me a spin because we were very close, but I managed to pass".

 

And Hill?

 

"I really appreciated his gesture when he applauded me during the lap of honour. We are not friends, but we respect each other. I wanted to stop to take him to the pits, but the clutch didn't disengage. Anyway, better for him, he avoided catching a cold…".

 

And now, with the second World Championship practically won?

 

"It shouldn't be difficult to bring it home, even if the mathematical certainty is still missing. And in 1996 everything will change. I will go to Ferrari. Different team, new car and engine, good challenge, interesting. My goal is to win a few races next year and aim for another title in 1997, always with the Maranello team".

 

In the race, Jean Alesi was very good, yet also unlucky because the victory would have been his if a series of mishaps had not slowed him down.

 

"Thanks to my engineer Lunetta, we had chosen the right tires, and I gave my everything to gain the greatest possible advantage; I knew that in the final the others would catch up. I was counting on possibly taking advantage of the traffic. Instead, I was blocked by the lapped cars. So much so that, at one point, I asked on the radio if someone from the race direction could be sent over to complain about Häkkinen's behaviour, which was hindering me. Other than that, however, I'm not happy. Second place is not enough for me, I race to win. And I will try again until the end of the season. In any case, today I finally saw the finish line, which is already a success".

 

Williams, which also had the quicker car, finished the race with David Coulthard in third place The Scotsman had to race in the reserve car as his car stalled during the formation lap. David was perhaps the main cause of Hill's defeat, although the final blame can mainly be attributed to the team. Alain Prost comments again:

 

"They made a huge mistake in not immediately calling Hill into the pits to change tires".

 

But above all, the Englishman went off track putting his wheels on the grass to try to catch up with his teammate and limit the damage in the standings:

 

“After hitting Alesi's Ferrari, the steering no longer worked properly. Anyway, it's useless to cry, I'll try again next year. Well done, Schumacher, he's a great driver".

 

Once the European Grand Prix is over, someone insinuates that on the occasion of the Pacific Grand Prix, which will be held in Aida, boycott problems could arise to the detriment of the French equipment, Renault engines and Elf petrol, even only obstacles related to customs bureaucracy. Japan is at the forefront of Chirac's nuclear tests in Polynesia. And driver Taki Inoue refuses to be interviewed by a Le Monde reporter for this very reason.

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"Until the atomic experiments are stopped, I will no longer drink French wine".

 

It was a dramatic day for Andrea Montermini: while making the pit-stop for refuelling, the Italian driver hit one of his mechanics, the one who puts petrol in the tank, because the system did not work, and the team manager told him to leave again without realizing that the man had remained in front of the wheels. Paul Summerfield suffered a broken leg. And, to top it off, Montermini had to stop on lap 45 due to lack of fuel. Tuesday, October 3rd, 1995, as widely stated, will be a very important day for Ferrari. The 10-cylinder engine will be tested for the first time on the Fiorano track, mounted on a hybrid car driven by Larini. It is a real philosophical change for a team that had made the V12 its banner. But the time is now ripe to try something new. And this should be the absolute weapon to bring the Maranello team back to the top. However, Jean Alesi will not be the one to baptize the last born. The teams do not let the drivers who leave try out the new products. Not even to those who demonstrate, as the French driver did, that they always give their all. Michael Schumacher, like the Northern Irish driver Eddie Irvine, should spring into action in the first half of November, immediately after the last championship race. But first, he will be in Maranello to get the measures of the seat of his car and perhaps also to define the schedule. One of his first tasks will be to carry out comparative tests between the two engines, the V10 and the V12. Time is running out and Ferrari must decide how to start the 1996 season. With the smaller engine, the single-seater could be very different both in terms of the position of the engine, lower and closer to the centre of the car, and in terms of weight distribution. It will be the German driver's first challenge within the new team.


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