#480 1989 Italian Grand Prix

2021-10-09 01:00

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#1989, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Greta Allison Martorana,

#480 1989 Italian Grand Prix

The sale of tickets for the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix, scheduled from Friday 7 to Sunday 10 September 1989, is proceeding at a rapid pace. Over six


The sale of tickets for the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix, scheduled from Friday 7 to Sunday 10 September 1989, is proceeding at a rapid pace. Over sixty percent of the grandstand tickets have already been distributed and requests tend to rise, despite the prices are far from low: 220.000 lire for the single day of the race in numbers, 35.000 lire the simple daily entrance and 50.000 lire the subscription for the whole event, full of other interesting tests. Last year, with lower costs and 95.000 paying spectators, it reached 4.600.000.000. It is reasonable to expect that the limit of lire will be well exceeded, thanks in particular to the Mansell-mania that has recently broken out. The two victories of the English driver, first in Brazil, then Hungary, and above all his unlimited driving, contributed to this exploit, even if Ferrari at the national circuit never needed help even in the most difficult moments. Meanwhile, the renovation of the plant is proceeding. The new pits (48) are almost finished, while the clearing of the squares behind the paddock continues, and the completion of the soundproof race direction. The cost of the works, become more expensive for the continuous postponements and changes (the garage structures are theoretically removable, mainly made of steel, but to take them away would not spend less than lire and would be obtained a few hundred million lire of scrap), could exceed lire, an investment, however, amply repaid from the receipts based on a multiannual programming. Meanwhile, from Maranello comes the rumor that Ferrari would have contacted the young Gianni Morbidelli, leader of the Italian Formula 3 championship, to entrust him with the role of test driver in place of Lehto, at the end of the contract of the Finn. But this is not necessarily the only path taken by the managers of the Maranello team to complete the staff for next season. The decision, announced for next week, on the choice of the second driver to accompany Nigel Mansell, is highly anticipated. In the last few hours it seems that the quotations of Riccardo Patrese have increased, because of some uncertainties of Alain Prost who may have made difficult requests, such as that concerning the permanence of John Barnard. Then, however, a bit by surprise, on Friday 1 September 1989 the case of the summer in Formula 1 seems to be resolved in the evening. 


It seems that Alain Prost, twice World Champion, was hired by Ferrari. After long and feverish negotiations the French driver, who was free on the market, would have found an agreement with the Italian team that - if all the news will be confirmed in the next few days - will accompany him next year to Nigel Mansell, forming an unprecedented pair with which to aim for the world title. The Frenchman had previously refused a fabulous contract renewal by McLaren, which has already replaced him with Gerhard Berger, taken without much compliment from the Maranello team. There are several indications as to why Prost might have made this decision. Not least that concerning Riccardo Patrese who was expected to switch to Ferrari if the transalpine driver went to Williams. The Paduan driver is on holiday in Cortina, where he was supposed to intervene as a guest of honor at the Coppa delle Dolomiti for vintage cars, but at the last moment he gives up the invitation warning the organizers to be leaving for England. A sudden trip. And why would Patrese go to London other than signing a contract with Williams? The English team had, among other things, obtained, probably paying a penalty, a delay of time on the option that he had on the Italian rider, expiring on 1 September 1989. The Italian rider. The fact that Frank Williams rushed to block Riccardo has a precise meaning: the failure of the negotiation with Prost that he carried out with Renault. In this way we could put together many pieces of a fragile mosaic that Ferrari was building around the French champion. A strange visit of a close friend of Prost to the Ferrari motorhome to take and give all possible phone numbers. An executive at a major Williams sponsor who argued that the negotiations with the Chamond driver had been wrecked. Senna who told Brazilian journalists that he was sure that Mansell in Belgium had not risked so much to overcome Prost because in 1989 he will be his teammate. And so on. Then the situation precipitated with other revealing movements on an imminent decision of Alain Prost. Finally in the late evening, the revelation of a friend of the driver: its done, next year we will eat spaghetti, or rather tortellini. Obviously everything awaits the official confirmation of the Maranello team, with an announcement expected on Thursday, September 7, 1989, on the eve of the first day of practice in Monza. It is clear that the news should have remained secret until the last moment not to create problems to Alain who is always in contention with Senna for the victory of the World Championship. Another rumor concerns the position of coach John Barnard. 


More than a month ago Ferrari announced the confirmation of the conclusion of the contract with the English designer at the end of the season. The Italian team had set conditions (especially that of working permanently in Maranello and not in Guildford) that Barnard had not considered convenient, so the relationship had run out naturally. But it seems that in the last few hours there has been some rapprochement with a solution that could be positive for all parties, even if Barnards stay would not be decisive for the agreement with Prost, but only a referential element. In any case the conclusion of the story must have been very elaborate and not easy to overcome all obstacles. Alain Prost - remember - is 35 years old, he debuted in Formula 1 in 1980 and won two world titles with McLaren-Tag Porsche in 1985 and 1986. In his career he participated in 148 Grand Prix, winning 38 (absolute record), with 20 pole positions. He also holds the record of points-race and kilometers traveled with an extraordinary reliability that led him to get on the podium in almost half of the races he participated in.  As was easy to predict, the following day Ferrari declares that it has not reached any agreement with the driver who will accompany Mansell in 1990. The clarification is contained in a statement released by Ferrari itself on the news appeared in some newspapers.  Will there be empty days ahead of the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix? Empty of the Ferrari-Prost-Williams story, now deflated by the rumors of days gone by, according to which the troubled idyll between the French driver and the Maranello team has ended - pardon - will end with a wedding? But no: it will be hours of tension, since the doubt is not officially clarified and that all in all something sensational could always happen to fail the agreement that has not been signed... Seriously, the Italian Grand Prix is an important event as usual for motoring enthusiasts, beyond the events related to the name of Prost. We are at the crucial time of the season, on the eve of one of the races that could be decisive for the fight for the world title, in the challenge between Senna and Prost, with the possibility of inclusion for Nigel Mansell. In practice, the chances of the English are minimal, but in theory there is still hope, also because Ferrari in the last tests has highlighted an ever greater competitiveness, in an exciting growth of results. 


For the Italian Grand Prix everything is linked to the new, or rather renewed 12-cylinder engine of Maranello. If there will be further progress, we will see a good show, also because some recurs defined as historical, basically have concrete reasons. And Bergers victory last year was not as random as it seemed and determined solely and exclusively by McLarens failings. To take advantage of the opportunities you also need to be in the right place at the right time. Ferrari has been so far a beautiful car on Sunday. Sometimes soundly and almost always behind the two McLaren in qualifying, the Italian cars have had a performance in the race, in recent times (after finding reliability), higher than that of timed practice. It is clear at this point that Senna and Prost have some system to be faster on the lap, which then can not use without excessive risks of breakage in the race. Maranellos cars missed just that. Not always being able to start in the very first positions, he paid the price of some frantic chases. As happened in Belgium. It would be nice to know what would have happened if Mansell instead of taking the sixth place at Spa, had started at the height of Senna, while always taking into consideration the ability of the Brazilian on the wet track and the effectiveness of McLaren in all conditions. And maybe it would have been enough that Berger had not gone out a little too quickly to get a different match. In any case with an engine that promises to be more powerful and also elastic (but how do these technicians get two things that apparently are in the antithesis?) Ferrari should look to the Italian Grand Prix with great confidence, Although McLaren remains the favorite team to beat. However, dreaming together with tens of thousands of fans a victory for Mansell would be an apotheosis, also because really the Englishman, should he ever gain 9 points, he would fit into the fight at the top, with three successes to the credit, and above all with excellent prospects for the next two races in Estoni and Jerez. Returning to Prost, the Frenchman plays on the razors edge on the track and outside. It is clear that the French champion (with him Ferrari) has no interest in discovering prematurely the choices for the future, at least before seeing how he will go to Monza. But at the same time McLaren and Honda must also be careful because too much sympathy for Ayrton Senna could have very negative implications on the image. If he were to be defeated not on the field, but by default, Alain could also have no qualms and launch serious accusations. 


That will be known in a few days. Meanwhile, from England come new rumors that always concern Ferrari: it seems that the technician for the track to be engaged may be Tim Wright, who occupied a place similar to McLaren. A piece that was missing the mosaic, to complete a training able next year to start immediately well, that is, at most, from the beginning of the World Championship. Monday 4 September 1989 another former Formula 1 World Champion changes team. Three-time world champion Nelson Piquet signs a contract with Benetton, where he will be joining Alessandro Nannini next year. The Anglo-Italian team, in order to improve, wanted to hire a driver full of experience, able to work well in the tuning of the cars and to bring results. Some argue that the Brazilian is now lacking in stimuli and perhaps even enamel. Perhaps an excessive consideration. It is absurd to ask Piquet to risk on board a single-seater able to fight for the fifteenth position, as happened frequently to Lotus that now seems to mark the British Warwick and Donnelly and that next year should race with Lamborghini engines. If Benetton can offer the new driver a competitive car, the results should not be lacking. Piquets engagement may also highlight Fords wider involvement in providing the team with engines, including contacting John Barnard for advice. Meanwhile, outside of Formula 1, an offensive must be recorded by the German car industry. After the success of Mercedes that won the World Sports Prototypes Championship in advance, winning the 500 km of Donington with Schlesser-Mass, here comes from the States a quite sensational news: the return to victory of Teo Fabi in Formula Indy. The 34-year-old from Milan hasnt won a test since 1983. This time Fabi won the Ohio Grand Prix at Lexington, ahead of the two Lola-Chevrolet drivers, namely Al Unser jr and Michael Andretti. But the sensational fact is not so much in the affirmation of the Italian, as in the car that led to the finish: the March-Porsche. This is the first statement of the German company after its debut in 1987. In the last races the situation seemed to improve, and Sunday, September 3, 1989 Fabi grabbed the opportunity, winning the success that Porsche was looking for for almost three years with a commitment that is part of a strategy aimed at the American market where it lost several points and must absolutely try to recover. Meanwhile, on Monday, Enrique Scalabroni, the Argentinian designer (chassis specialist) who left Williams for Ferrari, takes over at Maranello. Two days later, Wednesday, September 6, 1989, the news - now a few days old - finally becomes official: Alain Prost will race with the Scuderia Ferrari. The official communication comes at 5:00 p.m.: 


"Alain Prost will be driving Ferrari in the Formula 1 World Championship races in the 1990 season. The contract with the French driver was signed today in Lugano at the end of a negotiation started at the French Grand Prix. Nigel Mansell, in order to meet the interests of Ferrari, has renounced the qualification of first driver. Therefore Mansell and Prost will enjoy the same treatment both in practice and race. Nicola Larini has long signed an option for the 1991, 1992 and 1993 seasons".


The last automotive doubt of the summer falls therefore, with the confirmation of the indiscretions and of the hypotheses (supported by a series of probative clues) that had already brought numerous insiders to the solution of the rebus. With Prost free on the market, Ferrari could not remain unrelated to a possible agreement. Many would have liked an Italian driver, young (Larini) or less young (Patrese). But Ferrari fans dont care who runs, the important thing is to win. With Prost and Mansell the Maranello team will have a pair that is worth the one made up of Berger and Senna, even if they are two seniors against two young people, engaged in a challenge that should ignite next season. But back to Alain Prost. Why did he accept Ferraris proposal? The Frenchman had a range of alternatives:


"In the last few months I have found myself facing countless solutions for my future. Going to Williams-Renault, building my own team, moving to Mercedes, racing in the World Endurance Championship with Peugeot, retiring permanently and also staying at home for a year without doing anything, paid by McLaren. The majority of these hypotheses would have forced me to radically change the type of life. I like what Ive done so far and especially did not want to start from the beginning". 


But why the Ferrari? 


"I dont want to make poetry, fall into the rhetoric of the prestigious name. The truth is that the Maranello team offers me the best technical guarantees to have a competitive car and a position in the team equal to that of Mansell. Thats enough for me". 


Prost does not say it clearly, but he does understand that the main reason for this choice comes from the fact that Ferrari will offer him the chance to beat McLaren and Senna. 


"I decided to leave my team in Imola in the spring, when the Brazilian did not respect the agreement at the start of the race. In fact, I was so irritated, psychologically depressed, I even thought about leaving the business right away. Then I decided I was divorcing McLaren. In Belgium, after thorough analysis of the situation, but without ever losing sleep, I realized that the best opportunity was represented by Ferrari". 


Two elements fit into the intricate story. First: the gentleness of Mansell who despite having signed a contract as a first guide was understanding accepting the status of equality with the new team mate. Second: the position of John Barnard. The English designer, who should have been free at the end of the season, could be recovered. Maybe in a different kind of collaboration, however linked to the team. Barnard may be unpleasant but he is smart. The decision after Monza.  Alain Prost was born in St. Chamond in the Haute Loire on 24 February 1955. He lives in St. Croix, Switzerland, is married to Anne Marie and has a son, Nicolas (the same name as Lauda), eight and a half years old. He is 1.65 meters tall and weighs 55 kilograms. As a young man, in the minor classes, he won practically everything. In Formula 1 since 1980: since then he has won 38 races (absolute record) and two world titles, in 1985 and 1986. At McLaren since 1984 (after a long experience at Renault), in his career he proved to be the most regular driver at high level, finishing in the points in over half of the races. For his engagement at Ferrari there is obviously talk of nine figures (perhaps lire), paid anyway by the sponsor Marlboro. The Frenchman is also a record holder in this field: in nine years he has already accumulated a fortune. After the announcement, everyone is looking for him. But he, Alain Prost, doesnt show up at the track. He will arrive Friday morning, at the last moment, just in time to get on his McLaren, start the engine and get on track in the first round of free practice of the Italian Grand Prix. But the Frenchman knows that along the circuit tens of thousands of fans will greet him as a triumphant, even if he will have to wait for the end of the season to drive a Ferrari. The times (1983) in which Prost had to present himself in Monza escorted by four bodyguards, when he ran for Renault and was the main opponent of the Maranello team, seem far away. Forgotten also the 1985, when some reckless threw the stones because guilty of having made life difficult in Alboreto, which at the beginning of the season was at the top of the ranking. Prost is already an idol for everyone, only for having sworn loyalty to Ferrari. The two-time World Champion however was at the center of all discussions, for two reasons. The first is the obvious one of the transition to Ferrari, the second, more current, concerns his situation in the championship: what will McLaren do, after the news that certainly did not please the men of the British team? It is a unanimous impression that the playing margins are very thin, that Ron Dennis can not afford too much freedom, because the opponents (the Ferraris) would end up taking advantage of it. Many people talk about Prost. The first interested is Nigel Mansell, his next teammate: 


"I am convinced that Prost will be useful to Ferrari not only for his skill in racing. Among other things he is one of the few who knows the power of Honda engines. I am happy: with Alain I spoke in Belgium, there are no problems. Even if were gonna be in competition with each other. As far as Im concerned, I renegotiated the contract. There was also talk of a possible stay of Barnard: it is not for me to decide. Ferrari has won a lot without him and I think he will continue to do so even if he confirms his intention to leave us". 


Berger also welcomes the novelty positively: 


"I can say that it went well for him and me. We remained in two top teams. Last year McLaren won everything, now Ferrari has good solutions to become competitive. I had been in Maranello for three years and I needed new stimuli. So Im happy to change. As a couple Prost and Mansell are very strong. They certainly have more experience than me and Senna. But together they are 70 years old, while the Brazilian and I are younger and in perspective we should still improve. I dont think Prost will be a problem for Mansell, nor will Senna be a problem for me. I think about Ferrari for the moment. Here in Monza I won last year. Repeating the result will not be impossible, but it will be necessary to have luck because McLaren is even stronger and therefore favored". 


And to conclude Cesare Fiorio: 


"We gave Mansell a first-time driving opportunity because thats what he was asking for when we agreed. It was not difficult to review the contract and it didnt cost us too much either. On the Barnard issue, I can confirm that there have been signs of your willingness to stay with us. We will look into this in due course. However we now have a good technical structure directed by the engineer Castelli, with good people that deserves all our esteem. We wanted to delay the announcement for obvious reasons. But we would be doing McLaren a disservice if we thought it was going to favour one of the two drivers. It would be a mistake because such an attitude would diminish their chances of success. The contracts of Prost and Berger expire at the end of the year: I think we will find an agreement to use them before the end of the season. It would be stupid to wait so long".


The negotiations with Prost had begun at the French Grand Prix, when Ferrari, after the American misadventures, began to show signs of improvement. In a law firm in Lugano, Wednesday, September 6, 1989, Alain Prost and Cesare Fiorio with their lawyers put an end to the cloying story of the summer embroidered by Ferrari. The two-time World Champion next year will sit inside Gerhard Bergers #28 car. At the same time, Mansell renounces the previously desired privileges: for example, the reserve car will be one and the two drivers will be treated at par. To convince the Briton to give up his first-class driving status, Ferrari even gave him his F640 at the end of the season. Alain Prost comments, after signing a long contract of 66 pages:


"Ferrari is the dream of all drivers. For me this dream comes true in old age but I am equally happy".


A little pale but apparently quite serene, Ayrton Senna agrees to give a judgment on the passage of Prost to Ferrari, putting aside the controversy with the team-mate to whom - he confirmed it himself - no longer speaks except for very strict reasons of work: 


"I think it was a good choice for the driver and the team. Prost can bring a lot of experience and Ferrari will probably give him new stimuli. As for me, I think Ill be fine with Berger next year. I shouldnt miss predicting a very hard-fought and spectacular 1990 season. I am convinced that Prost will be useful to Ferrari not only for his skill in racing. Among other things he is one of the few who knows the power of Honda engines. I am happy: with Alain I spoke in Belgium, there are no problems. Although we will be in competition with each other. As for me, I have renegotiated the contract".


But will there ever be a Ferrari in the future of Senna? 


"If a rider has won in his career, if he has ambitions at a high level, he must have raced with Ferrari". 


Now for Alain Prost comes the difficult. After having tasted the joy of a new wave of popularity, thanks to the signing of the contract with Ferrari for next year, the Frenchman has a hard task: to face on track with Ayrton Senna, intent to snatch the leadership in the Formula 1 World Championship. Eleven points are the margin that Prost still has on the team, but it must be said that the little Alain, if he will arrive in the top six on Sunday, after he must begin to discard the results, since the regulation provides to be able to accumulate only eleven placings of the sixteen races scheduled. A problem that does not bother for the moment the Brazilian, who, having already lost five chances, can instead grab every useful result until the end of the season. If you then consider that Senna has five wins against the three of the Frenchman in total, you can understand how Senna at this point of the season can be considered almost in an iron barrel. But the thing that can worry Prost most in this delicate moment of the season is the behavior of his team towards him. How will McLaren and Honda act, after the announcement of the transition to the Ferrari of the transalpine? Thursday 7 September 1989 the faces of the men of the English team are very dark. Manager Ron Dennis went out of his way to keep Prost, even going so far as to offer him a contract to stay a year. The owner of McLaren knows full well that the two-time World Champion will be a problem next season. Says Alain Prost:


"Im sure nothing strange will happen. These people are proud and above all have a great professionalism. To give Ferrari an advantage at Monza at this point, putting in difficulty its own driver would be like hitting the feet. It is clear that it would have been more delicate to announce my departure for Maranello at the end of the championship, but by now the rumor of this transfer had spread and it was useless to continue making passive resistance". 


Ron Dennis does not take at all well the idea that the Frenchman can go to Ferrari bringing with him the #1 in case of title victory, as well as secret information about their cars. In the previous weeks, Alain Prost seemed to be moving on to Williams, which the English manager liked, but the news of his passage in Ferrari makes him angry. Frank Williams, who is told that the pilot was stolen, replies:


"They didnt blow anything, I knew for a long time that Prost wouldnt come to me".


And speaking of Enrique Scalabroni, the designer who will arrive at Ferrari, says:


"Scalabroni will be a great engineer for Ferrari, especially if they wont work with Barnard".


Alain Prost is in an uncomfortable position, and can not wait for help from anyone. On one side Senna hunts him, on the other Ferrari has no chance to help him. Also because the Maranello team would like to win the third race of the season here in Monza, after the successes in Brazil and Hungary. It is true that if Berger and Mansell manage to win, which is not impossible but difficult because McLaren are always favored, they will take a first place at Senna. But it is equally true that Prost needs a full statement to be quieter. Nigel Mansell declares on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix:


"We cannot and we do not want to concede anything. Also because in theory I am still in the running for the world championship. There are five races to the end of the championship and a series of statements could also launch me at the top. I have no illusions, but as long as the paper will not blame me, I will try". 


A decision, that of English, that does not make a wrinkle. The same can be said for Gerhard Berger, who in the Italian Grand Prix celebrates a year since his last victory. Since then the Austrian, if you exclude a couple of placings at the end of 1988, has not reached the finish line. 


"What do I care about Prost and Senna? Alliances will be taken care of next year. Now I just want to finish a race, possibly in the first places". 


Should be 200.000 people present in the three days of competition. There are many spectators expected from Friday to Sunday for the three days of the Italian Grand Prix, twelfth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The news of Prost at Ferrari, the beautiful last races of Mansell, with the victory in Hungary, have certainly helped to excite souls. A relaxed atmosphere instead of the pits where there is also my official reconciliation between Cesare Fiorio and Eddie Cheever. After the controversy of Belgium, the head of Ferrari and the American driver make mutual excuses and shake hands. Friday, September 8, 1989, at the end of the first day of practice, there is a happy surprise for Ferrari fans. A charged and enthusiastic environment, some important technical news, the magic of the old national circuit, cradle of many triumphs; but who could expect a Ferrari so strong, so afraid of the unbeatable McLaren? Yet it happened: two Maranello cars ahead of everyone in the first day of the Italian Grand Prix, with Senna and Prost choked by the performance of rivals. This year, already at Imola and in Belgium, in the opening practice, the Maranello cars had managed to overtake the British cars. But they had been somewhat ambiguous, perhaps due to circumstances rather than actual superiority. Friday, however, Gerhard Berger (author of a masterpiece lap, the fastest ever in 1'24"734, at the fantastic average of 246.418 km/h) and Mansell, detached by only 0.005 seconds (33 cm) on the 5800 meters of the circuit, They passed McLaren without weather or divine aid, but only because they went faster. A miracle? No really: the Ferrari complex (car, engine, electronics, drivers, preparation) was the best, as the opponents also recognize. There are apparently no secrets, as Cesare Fiorio explains: 


"This is the result of a huge job, no summer vacation for anyone. We used the latest generation engines, the modified ones. Mansell had a slightly more evolved one, today both drivers will have it. For the first time we were able to send on track cars with engines that if they were not just qualifying, they were definitely a bit more cared for than the race ones. It is not excluded that in the second round McLaren can recover. But at the moment we are satisfied, because we have not only managed to confirm the trend reversal, but compared to the tests of recent weeks we have improved considerably". 


The happy climate of Ferrari also involves the drivers. Says Gerhard Berger:


"Let me smile because I needed it. And dont ask me what engine I had behind me. I just know it was more powerful and it went well. Admitted and not allowed that everything is fine, because this season I had only bitter disappointments, they are very torn about what to do. I would be tempted to attack hard to win, as I was doing at Spa when I went off the track. At this point, however, I would also like to get on the podium, just to savor a joy now forgotten. I dont know, Ill decide when I leave, even if Im afraid Ill be carried away by my temperament, which is not exactly that of an accountant".


And Nigel Mansell replied: 


"I could have done a little better if the tyres hadnt deteriorated in the last two corners. There is little room for further progress. Its clear that a placement might be good for the team, but honestly what would we do with a third or fourth place? Better to take a risk and definitely aim for success. I have nothing to lose, I want to have fun and entertain the audience, these fans who are one of the most positive aspects of Ferrari for a driver. I am sure they will prefer a lion race over a sheep race".


The drivers' opinion is fully shared by Ferraris sporting director, Cesare Fiorio, who has a no less fiery temperament than his riders. 


"If the cars are up to the task and if there are no unforeseen events, why spare yourself? Formula 1 is the automotive sport where race tactics are the last thing to take into account when you are competitive. It is clear that if the title was at stake for a few points, I would tell the guys to be careful, to get the best result with the least effort. But in this situation the only thing that interests us is to go strong, at most, to aim for victory. Without team orders, although we will try to play our cards to the fullest, with solutions maybe different for the two drivers who prefer to customize the structure of the single-seater according to their driving characteristics".


The two drivers of the Maranello team left no room for Senna and Prost. Mansell immediately printed a time of 1'24"768 that left everyone speechless, with tires tender race. Then it improved, going down to a time of 1'24"739. Berger went wild in the final reaching his time limit that does not improve the track record (1'23"470 of Piquet with the Williams-Honda turbo in 1987), but he exceeds the time of 1'25"974 with which Senna had obtained the pole position last year, when the pressure to the turbines had already been lowered. Low pressure also at McLaren, but for other reasons. Ayrton Senna appears nervous. 


"I am convinced that I could not have gone below 1'24"8, even if I was pulling at the maximum. In my best lap I made a small mistake at the chicane and also a wrong gear. But if we dont improve the set-up of the cars, we cant go faster. I think Ferrari has an advantage over us in the corners, because in straight our cars are perfect and also the fastest". 


Then he confesses to a friend: 


"Its not so much Bergers and Mansells time with qualifying tyres that frightens me, but the result that the Englishman got with race tyres". 


But it is not excluded, as has happened before, that McLaren is able to improve the set-up in the second day. For everyone else there is little glory. The Williams of Boutsen and Patrese P5 and P6 without shining, a nice exploit of Alliot, P7 driving the Lola-Lamborghini, in front of Nannini, after pre-qualifying with Albereto, Larini and Gachot in the morning.  How many spectators are present in Monza for the first qualifying round? The organizers say 60.000. To some the figure seems exaggerated, 30.000 at most the right one. Difficult to establish the truth. The only sure thing is that they are many and on Saturday, after the best time of Ferrari, there could be many more. Meanwhile, Alain Prost begins to speak from future Ferrari driver:


"I guarantee for 1990 a new Prost, motivated, for a new Ferrari, improved: especially if McLaren will allow me to race until the end of the season on equal terms with and against Senna, so I will become World Champion and next year I will have the Ferrari with the number 1. For ten years I was in negotiations with the Maranello team. The most competitive McLaren had led a stop, now I needed Ferrari, on a human level, to complete me". 


On the fans, the French driver says: 


"Six years ago in Monza they were angry with Renault, not with me. I think they understood, I know they already love me". 


At the same time, says Gerhard Berger, who next year will race with McLaren: 


"I leave Ferrari as contract, not as heart. A little parking at McLaren, then maybe back to Maranello". 


And Nigel Mansell adds: 


"Best wishes to Berger, welcome to Prost. Im fine with him with me: I first, he second". 


Add to that that each of the three will gain something more, with the new situation. Prosts contract with Ferrari says $6.000.000 and a lot of extras. In the morning, during pre-qualifying, for the first time in six Grands Prix, the Onyx was not the fastest. The credit goes to Larrousse-Lola, who took first and second place, with Philippe Alliot ahead of Michele Alboreto. Third Nicola Larini with Osella and fourth Onyx by Bertrand Gachot. Gachots teammate, Stefan Johansson, does not go beyond fifth place. Gabriele Tarquinis AGS was sixth, Roberto Morenos Coloni was seventh. Larinis team-mate, Piercarlo Ghinzani, is eighth in his eleventh failure in the pre-qualifying this season. As in the previous race, the two Zakspeed drivers are ninth and tenth, with Bernd Schneider back in front of Aguri Suzuki. The Argentine Oscar Larrauri returned to EuroBrun, for which he had raced in 1988, replacing the Swiss Gregor Foitek, but without improving his position. Twelfth the other AGS of Yannick Dalmas, in front of only the second Colonists of Enrico Bertaggia. Saturday, September 9, 1989 it takes a super Ayrton Senna to take away Ferraris pole-position in the 60th Italian Grand Prix. Relentless, the Brazilian fourteen minutes from the end of the qualifying completes one of his masterpieces of speed, perfection, skill, courage and even a bit of necessary unconsciousness, annihilating everyone, so much so that someone in the pits is forced to look a couple of times on the timekeeping monitors before believing that the time appeared was true: 1 second to Berger, almost 2 seconds to teammate Prost who at that time maybe thinks of the Martians, I suddenly hit the track. This does not mean, however, that the cars and men of the Maranello team have already lost the game. The race is all to be played, as usual on technical choices (mainly tires), on tactics, on unforeseen events. Ferrari starts with the best overall finish of the season, Berger in the front row next to Senna and Mansell in second alongside Prost. With the theoretical possibility of putting McLaren in crisis, to force them to squeeze to the maximum, even if the prediction should go in the direction required. Certainly this time of 1'23"720, at a shivering average, 249.403 km/h, makes an impression. But Senna himself is cautious: 


"I still dont know if I can be faster than the Ferraris in the race, much will depend on the tuning of the car. In any case mine will be for once a tactical test, I will try to think about the World Championship and not the victory even if it is against my mentality. If the Ferraris force too much, Ill let them go". 


Do you believe him? Interesting however the explanation of the Brazilian for that lap almost record (only 0.3 seconds more than the record of the track of Piquet, obtained with turbo engines from 1200 Hp, against about 700 current): 


"After the debut with the first set of tires, I had taken precise references. I made a small mistake at the chicane climbing up a curb, but I knew I had to make the most of it, no matter what the cost. It went well. And I think my secret was to warm the tyres well, at the right temperature, because the asphalt after the rain was a bit strange". 


It is certainly a sign of extraordinary sensitivity. In any case, Senna, at his pole-position number 38, leaves you speechless. He also surprises Berger and Mansell, who admit that they could hardly have done better if everything had gone well. But for the two Ferrari drivers, the day was not exceptional. Indeed. The Austrian had a problem with the engine in the morning, after an exit of the track where he boarded a lot of land and turned very little, without being able to work on the car. Mansell says he found traffic when he fitted the only set of qualifying tyres. Says the Englishman, who also ran out of gas and had to change cars, while in the morning he was out of the track bumping into Patrese, without damage:


"I also tried to aerodynamically unload the car to increase top speed. But there was little difference. I honestly dont know how Senna made that time. And, at least this time, its not about the driver, its about the engine". 


And he adds, joking, Luca Montezemolo:


"A goal in the last few minutes is always disappointing. The only technical solution would be to cut Sennas right foot clean. But lets settle for these placings, Ferrari is moving in the right direction with continuous and constant improvements". 


Ferraris Director and Director also talks about Prost and Barnard: 


"Alain is a driver of great experience and technical knowledge, a number 1. When Fiorio started the long negotiations with him, we were all happy. But now we also have a long bench with Larini. As for Barnard, we are interested in continuing the collaboration. There has been a separation for logistical-geographical reasons. We must see if there will be conditions to review the situation". 


Returning to the result of the tests, this is the opinion of Cesare Fiorio: 


"We knew we werent out of McLarens league. Senna was very good and I think he also pushed at the maximum risk with the engine, because he recorded very high speeds. In any case, lets think about the race: it will be important to prepare the car well in the warm-up, especially according to the tyres, whose choice could be decisive". 


The McLaren-Ferrari duel, which is also worth a part of the world title, will certainly be the highlight of the race as the others seem to be too far from the queens pairs. Patrese makes a nice leap forward, overtaking team-mate Boutsen (and at one point he had also passed Prost who entered fourth in the final), but Williams are at the limit, more than that they can not give. There were, however, nice feats, with several authors: the P7 of Alliot with Lola and the P10 of the young Jean Alesi who had been disqualified on Friday. Nannini and Pirro (P8 and P9) pay a little for the impasse that Benetton is going through and can only aim for one place, as well as the other Italians, all further back. The duel between McLaren and Ferrari has never been so uncertain as at Monza. Lets examine in detail the two single-seater queens of the 1989 season, discovering their technical secrets. The differences between the Italian and Anglo-Japanese cars are evident above all in the design of the sides. While the McLaren MP4/5 is equipped with particularly low side pontoons, John Barnard on the Ferrari has high and narrow sides, which allow a greater rear taper and the aileron to work in much more favorable conditions. Other peculiarities that distinguish Ferrari from McLaren are given by the design of the nose and the internal aerodynamics of the vehicle. The F1-89 has a low and flat duck-beaked nose, which should ensure greater downforce on the front axle, and has no openings in the side of the sides, while on the McLaren MP4/5 we find two vents for the disposal of hot air expelled from the radiant masses. Both cars are finally equipped with an accentuated taper in the tail section (which improves the Cx of the vehicle, ndr) and voluminous triangular section air intakes for engine power. Ferrari and McLaren remained the only two Circus cars to adopt the chassis type separated from the bodywork. A slightly penalizing technical solution, in terms of weight, which allows you to change the aerodynamics of the vehicle, without affecting the body. Structurally the two frames in question, both made of composite materials such as carbon, kevlar and nomex, are similar. Instead, they differ in the design of the terminal part, where Ferrari, which has a 12-cylinder V, longer than the 10-cylinder Honda, has two side bulges, inside which are contained as many fuel tanks. The most obvious difference between the two vehicles in question is represented by the engines. Ferrari, as is known, has a 65-degree 12-cylinder V with 5 valves per cylinder, while Honda has only 10 cylinders, with an angle of 72 degrees between banks and 4 valves per cylinder. As for the powers both manufacturers are entrenched behind a iron no-comment, but it is not risky to assume a maximum of 670-680 hp at 13.000 rpm. in special versions set up for testing. In the race the powers should drop by a few dozen horses; a roof still very high, much higher than the best 8 cylinders in circulation. 


As for turbo engines, even on the aspirated is essential a correct electronic management, to optimize the performance of the engine and consumption, since every extra kilo of weight determines the loss of about one horse. For the same power it is therefore essential to have a car at the limits of the regulatory weight and fuel consumption as low as possible. Another differentiator between Ferrari and McLaren is the gearbox. Ferrari adopts the now famous mechanical system with electronic control, which the driver controls by acting on a balance wheel placed behind the steering wheel. After the initial phase of tuning, punctuated by continuous breaks, the Ferrari gearbox now seems finally reliable. Nevertheless, a fully mechanical version is also being tested in Maranello, which will be used next year. On the McLaren, instead, we find a transverse transmission, built in collaboration with the American company Weismann that, thanks to the particularly small dimensions, has made possible a great design cleaning in the rear and the construction of a large Venturi duct. 


"Kids, forget about holidays in Australia at the end of the season, because we will stay at home". 


Thus, between the serious and the facetious, Alain Prost welcomes the large troop of French journalists, after rehearsals. A joke, but it is clear that the two-time World Champion has very little desire to joke. In Monza, Ayrton Senna has two cars, with 20 people around him working to work just for him, while Prost has only one car, with more or less four or five mechanics. During practice, Alain Prost finds himself alone in a corner of the pits. This weekend becomes the most difficult psychological in the career of the French driver. Moreover, Honda has not been complacent with its demands. Dark on his face, with his jaws hardened, his mouth closed, Alain Prost continues his litany:


"Its impossible to adjust the car this way all weekend. The engine was erratic in operation. Once it went, the other not, I could not understand the behavior of the frame. I worked really bad". 


The initial sentence, prelude to an early retirement, that is, to a departure of the team before the end of the World Championship? 


"If I had proof of differential treatment between Senna and myself, I would have left McLaren by now. I hope the situation has not precipitated at this point. Of course strange things happen, as many have happened in recent years, especially in the last and beginning of this. In free practice, for example, when we do the tests, we always get times on very similar values". 


Are two seconds almost behind the Brazilian particularly heavy? 


"I know very well the value of Ayrton, his ability to go not strong but very strong. But such a gap is ridiculous between two drivers of our level with the same car. At most there can be a few tenths. A gap like that doesnt depend on me, Im not making a big deal out of it right in front of my new audience. At McLaren, Im isolated, nobody takes care of me, they gave me an engine without horses. No, no, no, so Im not really in. Now Im going to ask them and if they are going to make me lose the World Championship in this way, I dont think about it twice, I get out of the car and I dont even finish the season".


What could happen now? 


"I dont want to ask myself too many questions. Better keep your mind free. In the warm-up I will try to fine tune the car for the race, then we will see".


Is it possible to envisage an alliance with Mansell in this Grand Prix? 


"No. In Hungary, letting the English pass could have been a good tactic: there were still seven races left at the end of the season. At this point, however, the only possible tactic is to win, because if Senna wins the title fight is over". 


Alain Prost does not want to make specific accusations, talking about sabotage against him, with names and surnames, but he puts himself on guard against McLaren and Honda. And it is not excluded, if Sunday should really go wrong, that is if the Frenchman was with a motor too much inferior to that of the Brazilian, that we can expect some resounding decision. Senna, however, as a smart-ass, prefers not to talk about his teammate. 


"Im sorry. I wish Berger had stayed in pole position. For the fans. After all, Ive already had a lot of these satisfactions".


What could happen now? 


"I dont want to ask myself too many questions. Better keep your mind free. In the warm-up I will try to fine tune the car for the race, then we will see".


Is it possible to envisage an alliance with Mansell in this Grand Prix? 


"No. In Hungary, letting the English pass could have been a good tactic: there were still seven races left at the end of the season. At this point, however, the only possible tactic is to win, because if Senna wins the title fight is over". 


Alain Prost does not want to make specific accusations, talking about sabotage against him, with names and surnames, but he puts himself on guard against McLaren and Honda. And it is not excluded, if Sunday should really go wrong, that is if the Frenchman was with a motor too much inferior to that of the Brazilian, that we can expect some resounding decision. Senna, however, as a smart-ass, prefers not to talk about his teammate. 


"Im sorry. I wish Berger had stayed in pole position. For the fans. After all, Ive already had a lot of these satisfactions".


The arrival at the circuit of the lawyer Gianni Agnelli, at 12:30 a.m., helicopter plus 164 red for the last stretch, from the landing roundabout to the Ferrari area, means something absolutely new in the chronicles of Formula 1. Because of the Ferrari-effect of the day before, was decreed a sort of maxi-party in the box of Ferrari; the same order service, usually implacable, provides for the safety of the place, crowded, without sedentary-behavioral prohibitions. Thus, while the lawyer, with his son Edoardo and Montezemolo, leads to the wall that opens onto the runway (an unknown attendant even requires a brief identification), where there are markers and timekeepers, the group explodes behind him. Journalists, television (every television a journalist, a cameraman, a sound engineer), photographers of all objectives, high and medium personalities of the world of motoring fill those few square meters usually reserved for those who have to work around the cars of Mansell and Berger, overflow with skids at adjacent pits, McLaren and Benetton. Watching the crowd watching Agnelli are present, at the bottom of the box, the president of Ferrari Fusaro, Fiorio who makes the shuttle box-wall, the Fenech and Tomba, to say of important, well-known people. Alberto Tomba is basically the ideal unit of measurement for the lawyer: in the sense that, present the lawyer, Tomba falls to little more than a deja-vu. And the same fate would befall Maradona, announced and not arrived. 


Effect-Ferrari of the day, effect-Lambs permanent, and occasionally brought there, and in short, the people of the grandstand sees the birth, at the box, for an hour (record of Agnelli to the tests) that lump of crowd where every now and then they slip cars for the retouches, miraculously hitting no one. At the end of the session Senna takes the pole-position with a record time, but few notice: and those few give to Senna iconoclasm. Not Agnelli, who says: 


"It matters more to be first in the real race, however honestly I am always happy with what the Ferrari drivers did". 


It is the same Agnelli who sportingly, at the beginning of the tests, to those who had asked him if he was not rooting for the rain, that resuming to fall would allow the unbeatability of the days before, had said: 


"No, no rain, you have to be sporty". 


The reporter reports that the presence of Agnelli was, and by far, the main event of Monza, at least for the attention devoted to it by those who then, in writing or over the air, the media to people. The lawyer kindly and expertly also speaks of many current affairs, with a fair dose of irony very timely especially for those who had transformed the approach to him in a holy war, fighting for the front row as for the Holy Grail. Says Agnelli, before the rehearsal: 


"It seems to me that the chronometer has clearly spoken well of Ferrari, where Fiorio works well, the technicians and mechanics work well, the drivers are good. They were made great steps forward. What do you want me to tell you about Ferrari, chronometers speak for themselves".


But at this point the bold but nice Bolognese journalist Raffaele Dalla Vite, had blurted and exclaimed:


"Socc'mel lawyer, weve been here since 7:00 and he wont tell us anything else?"


Dismayed but courteous, the president of FIAT had stopped, and continued:


"But no, please, whatever you want".


The first obvious question is about Prost:


"He speaks Italian with the same accent as Platini. Ah Platini, what a great player, here he was lucky enough to catch him that he was young. Prost may not be as nice as Platini but he is a great driver". 


Meanwhile, the lawyer, who anticipated the pole position in Monza, after Senna makes the pole position is silent, then comments:


"Sure, sorry to be beaten in the last few minutes but I hope that Sunday things will change. Tomorrow we will do great things, have faith".


The people get bold, and the screams - Counselor, it takes more money for Ferrari - and he sends back, without losing a second, answers:


"If only for those...".


Talking about the rest of the Italian Grand Prix starting group, luck and bad luck often touch each other. This is the case of Stefano Modena and Luis Pérez-Sala, the first disqualified and ousted from the Italian Grand Prix, the second on the starting grid thanks to the elimination of the Italian. Modena, one of the most promising young drivers of Formula 1, is not new to disconcerting episodes. The jury punished him harshly, despite having scored the P16, for not stopping at the entrance of the pits, the operation of weight of the car, as per regulations, on the recommendation of the technical commissioners. An episode that had already happened to him last year at the Monaco Grand Prix. Now the suspicions that arise immediately, to see him throw away a golden opportunity to make a nice race in front of his audience are two: either the driver is aware of driving a car not properly regular (ie under weight) and skips control on purpose, or hes too focused at the wheel to see everything going on around him. Since you can think that the second hypothesis is the right one, Stefano Modena - who certainly has a considerable talent - should ask his team, Brabham, to put a man in the right place to warn him of the traps of the commissioners who, Among other things, absolutely pitiless, they also impose $ 5.000 fine. Emanuele Pirro also complained of the bad luck, who had Benetton in the season that began with the dismissal of Johnny Herbert. The Roman has left the position of McLaren-Honda test driver for the promising new Formula 1 race. But now he is deeply disappointed, because he already knows that next year in his place will come the Brazilian Nelson Piquet, former World Champion. Yet Pirro was starting to go well: Saturday ends with P9, just behind teammate Nannini. Its like being behind the wheel of a car, without a seat. But this is the hard law of a merciless sport like Formula 1. 


Sunday 10 September 1989, while the grid is formed before the start of the Italian Grand Prix, the McLaren team transfers the settings of the car of Senna to that of Prost in the hope of solving the problem of handling (Prost had been slower by more than 2 seconds in the race morning warm up than Senna). Prost later stated that although handling and grip had improved significantly, the engine had not yet reached straight speed and, despite the same wing settings, He couldnt match his teammates speed. Ayrton Senna takes the lead from the start and accumulates a small lead over Gerhard Berger, while Nigel Mansell (whose V12 development engine doesnt work well) and especially Alain Prost struggle to stay in touch. In fact, in the early stages of the race Prost, who has to get used to the new set-up of his car, has to face many difficulties to keep at bay the Williams-Renault of Thierry Boutsen, even if it must be said that Alain Prost is using a set of tyres of compound B, so harder, in the hope of not having to stop at pits during the race. Emanuele Pirro is the first to retire: the change of his Benetton-Ford breaks before completing the first lap. Even the Lola-Lamborghini by Philippe Alliot resists only for a short time. The Lola with Alliots V12 engine and Michele Alboreto were easily the fastest in pre-qualifying and Alliot qualified with an excellent seventh time (ahead of the Benetton) before heading into the sand trap at Ascari, during the second lap. During lap 33, Alessandro Nanninis Benetton stopped working regularly, forcing the Italian driver to retire, while Nigel Mansell was forced to stop during lap 41 due to a gearbox failure. Meanwhile, Ayrton Senna is still leading the race, while Alain Prost manages to overtake Berger and move into second place after Mansells retirement. Prost passes Berger in front of the pits and the main grandstand, and at the same time watches an unusual show of fans cheering when McLaren overtakes Ferrari. It should be remembered, however, that Prost is a confirmed Ferrari driver for 1990, while Berger, the hero of the 1988 race, leaves the Maranello team to take Prosts place at McLaren. Williams' pair of Boutsen and Patrese, having found the limits of the old FW12 model, continued in fourth and fifth place, but did not threaten the leaders in any way. 


During lap 44, the roar of the crowd tells the story of the Italian Grand Prix: the McLaren di Senna V10 Honda explodes completely at the Parabolica, discharging the oil on the rear tires and sending the Brazilian drivers car in a light spin, forcing him to retreat and handing Prost the head of the race. The French driver holds the lead of the race to the finish line and won his first Italian Grand Prix since 1985. Berger finished second, scoring not only his first points of the season, but also his first place in the race, while Thierry Boutsen finished third. Despite engine problems, Prost still managed to establish the fastest lap of the race at the end of lap 43. Riccardo Patrese finished fourth, with the second Williams-Renault, fifth Jean Alesi, and sixth Martin Brundle, with Tyrrell-Ford, with Brabham-Judd. At the same time, McLaren-Honda wins the Constructors' World Championship with four races to go. The most boring race of the year (barely a couple of overtakings worthy of being called such) could have given the world title to Alain Prost, provided that McLaren, having won the Constructors' World Championship in advance, at this point do not physically put a spoke in the wheel in the four races that remain to be played, before the end of the season. The Frenchman, winning his race number 39, has perhaps made happy in perspective the overflowing fans of Ferrari, perhaps not quite happy from the second place of Gerhard Berger. But the 60th edition of the Italian Grand Prix also had the merit of making clear two important elements for the future: the Maranello team, although in great progress, not on all tracks is still very close to the English team and in Monza was lower than expected, at least in chronometric performance. And Senna has shown that he still has some difficulties in his extraordinary driving ability. The Brazilian doesnt know how to hold back, he always pushes to the maximum, he risks and breaks, until he loses a test already won. A lap-after-lap record, two tenths reduced with each pass, 33 times out of the 44 laps he managed to complete, before literally blowing up the Honda engine. Unnecessary risk for Ayrton Senna. If it is true, as the Brazilian driver said, that on the dashboard of his car had already turned on the red light that marks an irregular oil pressure, why force again when he had almost 20 seconds ahead of the most immediate pursuer? 


Weakness therefore lies in his strength, in that inner drive that leads him to always ask for the maximum, to prove that he is the fastest - and therefore the best - of all. So, Ayrton Senna, who deserved the full success, provided that his McLaren is the same as McLaren of Prost, came out of Monza beaten in the race and maybe even defeated psychologically, although in words he does not give up and will continue to fight. In fact, the situation in the standings sees Alain Prost with 20 points ahead of his teammate. But its not enough: if the small driver from St. Chamond from the next race will have to discard the results because he has accumulated eleven (the maximum allowed), the rival will not be able to accumulate more than ten, as it has so far reached six times the finish line and there are four races to be played. It is a great advantage that Alain will be able to exploit, also considering that he will have the chance to eliminate the 2 points of Mexico and the 3 of Hungary, even coming only second. Certainly the games, more than in the hands of the drivers, are those of McLaren and especially of Honda: Prost, winning the World Championship, would bring the #1 next year to Ferrari. And, honestly, who would give way to such a final solution? Returning to Ferrari, there was a spasmodic wait after the victory in Hungary, the beautiful race in Belgium and especially the surprise triumph last year. But for the Maranello team it was a relay race, waiting more than attacking. Why? They are the mysteries of motoring, of Formula 1. Probably the cars of Berger and Mansell have paid a rapid evolution and therefore difficult to control, to tame. Berger had more the task of getting to the finish line for himself and for the team. And he interrupted the negative moment that lasted for twelve races, finally getting on the podium. The Englishman should have worried McLaren. In fact, struggling with gearbox problems since the first laps, the good Nigel had to look more behind than in front of him. The race - as has been said - had neither spectacle, nor any particular emotions of close type. Thanks Prost, this is just an advance. So the fans, tens of thousands, armed with flags, shirts, caps - all strictly red - salute the victory of the Formula 1 professor. There are also French fans who try, timidly, quietly, to exult for Prost as Prost, their compatriot, winner in Monza, probable World Champion. But these are silenced. On the podium, overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the Italian public that would have him in Ferrari in 1990, to the incitement to throw the cup, Alain Prost gives in and lets the trophy can be taken over by the fans, contravening his contract, which forces him to hand over the precious trophy to the McLaren team. Ron Dennis sees the cup fly from the podium with disbelief. Meanwhile, McLarens Sports Director, Jo Ramirez, sees the scene from the short corridor between the podium and the control tower, and as Ron Dennis passes by he tries to talk to him. But McLarens team principal doesnt want to hear from anyone. A few moments later Ron Dennis, angry to say the least, waits for Alain Prost to leave the podium to throw the constructors' cup on his feet, but fortunately the reflexes of the French driver avoid a bad injury. The McLaren boss is offended by the gesture made by Alain Prost, who actually throws the cup not to offend him or in a gesture of defiance, but only to make happy the crowd that the following year would support him. Alain Prost is confused.


"What am I supposed to have done?"


He asks Ramirez for Prost.


I will drive for Ferrari next year, and he must accept it".


But McLarens sports director says:


"No, Ron thinks you just showed the world that you dont care about a McLaren win. Now go to the press conference. Ill try to talk to Ron and calm him down".


It comes to mind how easily things change in Formula 1: a few years before Prost had to turn for the Italian paddock accompanied by the bodyguards; now he is ready to become the new darling of Italian fans, but above all he breaks the friendship with Ron Dennis. For the record, the cup will be destroyed in the mass of fans present under the podium of Monza, and in the following days many Italians will be available to repay the replica, which is prepared by Jo Ramirez, but is not delivered to Ron Dennis before the Christmas party of 1995, because a favorable moment will be expected in which Prost can return the trophy to the team principal of McLaren. Now, however, we are rooting for Alain Prost, the future Ferrari driver who, about the cup launched to the fans, says: 


"My natural, spontaneous gesture, Im sorry that someone felt sorry for me. I saw people completely fanatized (we translate literally from her French), I thought I could, making one very happy, make everyone very happy. I dont keep cups. And then on the podium I was different from every other time: never enjoyed so, first of the day, launched at the World Championship, signatory of a contract with Ferrari 1990 and loved by all Monza". 


A little fortuitous and unexpected success, but certainly appreciated by the Frenchman, at least on the level of the ranking that now sees him overtake the teammate-enemy Ayrton Senna by 20 points, with good chances of winning his third world title. But it must be recognized that this kind of statement does not please Alain Prost, who felt helpless until Senna retired with the Honda engine in pieces. And it is precisely on theoretical engine problems that the transalpine pilot insists, until his protest becomes almost a lament, a litany. But what should those riders say then who can never even get to the finish line, who run in teams where it is already a fortune to be able to qualify for the race? In any case, Prost must certainly be right, even if in the end the fastest lap was him in the Italian Grand Prix, just before Senna was forced to abandon. There are some irrefutable data that make his protest plausible: a driver like the Frenchman cannot take 1.7 seconds off the lap at Monza. Senna is certainly faster, but by a few tenths, perhaps; when he makes one of his masterpieces, on certain circuits, a second. Maybe in a city track. Another consideration: at Via Senna it went off like a fury, power. Prost was forced to chase, in fourth place, at a much lower pace. 


"In practice and racing I had the type 5 engines available, while Senna had the 4. Its hard to know what the differences are. But I realized that mine were less powerful, with less acceleration and lower speed in straight line". 


Its an awkward situation. On the one hand there is a driver who has already announced that next year he will change team, which will pass to the hated enemy Ferrari; on the other hand, a team that theoretically should support its own driver in winning the title while knowing that the eventual world champion the following season will go the other way. At the sporting level Prost should be given all the possible chances, but on the practical one it is difficult to blame McLaren that basically only takes care of its interests. However, the dispute could be resolved at the next race, in case Senna had to be forced to retire again. If the Brazilian does not manage to add up another four results in as many races that remain to be disputed, it will be very difficult for him to reconfirm champion. Ayrton, indeed, will be engaged in an almost impossible task, that of always winning until the last test, in Australia. Ayrton Senna says, before leaving bitter from Monza:


"I have absolutely not lost hope. Rest assured that I will do everything possible to beat that one". 


The name did not want to do it, as if Prost disgusted him. In any case the enmity is mutual. And, after all, Alain hopes that in the next two races, at Estoril and Jerez, Ferrari will help him beat the rival, taking away the first place. This is also what the fans of the Maranello team hope for. Senna, literally in his underwear in the van McLaren just behind the box, after the technical explanations, says: 


"Prost hasnt won yet, I can do it. Theres no reason to give up". 


Ayrton then tries to get out of the circuit immediately, but the crowds grip wins over him, and the Brazilian driver remains prisoner, leaving an hour after the end of the race, on foot, without anyone being able to be near him. The Brazilian also tries to anticipate in Linate the departure of his private flight to Nice (resides in Monte-Carlo) or according to others to England where he would have a mysterious love, but he does not succeed. Senna is one who does not like verbal polemics, however he also does not escape the term - that one there - to identify Prost: 


"He hasnt won the world title yet". 


Prost abounds in  - that one there - speaking of Seine. And he says: 


"There must have been a major malfunction at one time or another. I got lucky, I admit, but it was my turn". 


Meanwhile, Ferrari are happier than McLaren, where the mechanics in favor of Senna are in the majority of those in favor of Prost, also because the Brazilian in 1990 remains, the Frenchman goes away. At Ferrari they exult with the excuse that Berger came in second, but in reality they do it for Prost (all the more so as Berger leaves, and to McLaren). At McLaren few, probably those already sure of a place next year in Maranello or Fiorano are allowed to raise their arms to celebrate Prost. Its a fabulous theater, where only sublime plays avoid fights, attacks, bad things. People may have understood everything, they may not want to understand, however they enjoy the play, intuiting you understand. After a toast with Ferrari sparkling wine (in the sense that the cin-cin on the podium was aimed especially at the countless fans of Maranello, as well as the cup won by the Frenchman ended up in the hands of a lucky spectator who was under the grandstand of the award ceremony) Alain Prost now expects concrete help from Mansell and Berger. The Frenchman hopes that the two will help him in the duel with Senna, starting with the next races, in Portugal and Spain. In fact, the Brazilian will need at least three statements and a fourth place in the four races that remain to be disputed to hope for the world title. 


"He hasnt won the world title yet". 


Prost abounds in  - that one there - speaking of Seine. And he says: 


"There must have been a major malfunction at one time or another. I got lucky, I admit, but it was my turn". 


Meanwhile, Ferrari are happier than McLaren, where the mechanics in favor of Senna are in the majority of those in favor of Prost, also because the Brazilian in 1990 remains, the Frenchman goes away. At Ferrari they exult with the excuse that Berger came in second, but in reality they do it for Prost (all the more so as Berger leaves, and to McLaren). At McLaren few, probably those already sure of a place next year in Maranello or Fiorano are allowed to raise their arms to celebrate Prost. Its a fabulous theater, where only sublime plays avoid fights, attacks, bad things. People may have understood everything, they may not want to understand, however they enjoy the play, intuiting you understand. After a toast with Ferrari sparkling wine (in the sense that the cin-cin on the podium was aimed especially at the countless fans of Maranello, as well as the cup won by the Frenchman ended up in the hands of a lucky spectator who was under the grandstand of the award ceremony) Alain Prost now expects concrete help from Mansell and Berger. The Frenchman hopes that the two will help him in the duel with Senna, starting with the next races, in Portugal and Spain. In fact, the Brazilian will need at least three statements and a fourth place in the four races that remain to be disputed to hope for the world title.


"With a 20-point lead, at this point I should be comfortable, feeling like Im in a tight spot. But no, the situation is far from pleasant. Im afraid Im going to be put on the spot, and Im going to do everything I can to help that guy. I should be cheering for the triumph of Monza. But it was a random success. If my rival hadnt broken the engine, I wouldnt have had a chance to beat him. I absolutely dont like winning this way. I would rather play the championship on equal terms, even if I knew he was good and fast". 


For a few days now, the two dear enemies have not even been mentioned. Rivalry has turned into hatred, everyone seeks the most subtle weapons to psychologically weaken the opponent-teammate. One (Prost) cries, hoping to put the managers of McLaren against the wall, the other (Senna) sows poison, saying that the Frenchman is false and liar, that everything is regular, that nobody tries to bring favors on his side. Actually, Prost has a point. It is actually impossible for a driver of his worth, with thirty-nine victories, to suffer almost two seconds behind in qualifying and immediately lose hundreds of meters in the race, as happened in Monza, with the same car. Senna is faster, especially in practice. But there must be something different in McLaren and it is certainly not the chassis, but the Honda engine, on which the Japanese can intervene as and when they want. Now it remains to be seen, on the philosophical level, whether it is right or unfair for McLaren (or rather for Honda) favor one of the two drivers. Its not acceptable on sports. Purely for commercial purposes (and interests for years now involve the events of Formula 1) it is understandable that a company is greatly annoyed to leave a world title to an opposing team. Lets remember that Prost is already under contract with Ferrari for next year and that he will bring the eventual title to Maranello and with it the coveted #1 to be placed on the car. The same goes for Ferrari, which, in the presence of some technical innovation, perhaps only available to a driver, gives the logical preference to Mansell rather than Berger. It would be counterproductive, among other things, to reveal to the driver at the start novelties and secrets that could be used in the future in favor of another team. It is for this reason that Prost, with great cunning and at the same time launches a cry of help to Ferrari. By winning a couple of races, the Maranello team would get him out of trouble and solve all the problems of the French despairing. But will it be possible? Ferrari would (indeed) like to help the Frenchman in this way, but the Italian Grand Prix showed that McLaren, although not so far away, is still the strongest. In theory the tracks of Estoril and Jerez should be more favorable to the cars of Berger and Mansell, but these are all hypotheses to be verified. Meanwhile, in Monza, when the Englishman was forced to get out of the car, to reach the stands on foot, someone in the Maranello team clan could not hide a gesture of anger and bitterness. Of course, Ferrari was expecting something more, if not in terms of the result at least on that of performance. And it was probably the technicians and managers of the team who were expecting chronometric feedback, even if already in the morning, during the warm-up that almost always offers precise indications, no one was happy, except perhaps Mansell. A bit of disappointment, then, and perhaps even anger. Cesare Fiorio for temperament always defends the team and does well. However, even on his pulled and somewhat tired face (the effort must be more than burdensome) in the afternoon a sense of impotence is felt. 


"We took the sixth consecutive podium. Its not bad. After all we forced the technicians of the Anglo-Japanese team to risk a lot in the engine solutions. It was seen with the explosion that eliminated Senna". 


But what about your drivers? 


"For Mansell we immediately realized that there were difficulties. Telemetry data showed that the engine of his car lost 3-400 laps after a while. And the gearbox worked slower than normal. Unfortunately we have never been able to express ourselves at the highest level of our possibilities". 


What about Bergers second place? 


"Im very happy. The Austrian made his race, well, respecting the goals that were at the minimum to get in the top three. Mansell could have risked a little more but, as you saw, he stayed behind. Im very happy for Prost too. I hope you become World Champion". 


The two drivers do not allow long interviews. Mansell explains the trouble at the gearbox, Berger his race more modest than usual. Says the Austrian:


"I made an effort not to think that it was my last race in Monza on Ferrari, focusing on driving to get to the bottom and not make mistakes. There was no other option: Prosts McLaren, which was obviously slower than Sennas, was also faster than my car. The difference lies in the engine, even if Maranello is slowly recovering". 


With Berger, Ferrari will take three days of practice at Imola from Tuesday. In the morning the CEO of Fiat visited the team. Cesare Romiti stayed in the circuit for several hours before the race, talking to everyone, informing himself, watching, although he specified that his was a fan presence. 


"I enjoyed watching the rehearsals, and I hope to have even more fun in the afternoon, watching television".


In fact, apart from Ferrari, the show was certainly not the most exciting. The Roman manager also ranges on other topics, alternating playful responses to other more serious and significant. Do you like reckless pilots or computers?




Referring perhaps to Prost. Then Romiti continues with a clarification: 


"By the way. We, as I have always said, are only shareholders of Ferrari, while maintaining close relations, making ourselves available for technical support. But the industrial and sporting choices depend only on them, they have the delegation and responsibility. I am talking about the president Piero Fusaro and the sports director Cesare Fiorio. It is clear that we are informed, but a posteriori. Ferrari is fine, with 4.000 cars sold worldwide. In the Fiat Group it is considered a company with a special statute that enjoys wide autonomy. If you ask us something there are no problems. We are now building an engine center in Turin, if this is the case Maranello can use it for experimentation". 


Are the Japanese dangerous? 


"Not only in the car. They scare everyone in the world. But they stimulate us and therefore we can fight with them". 


Then the fireworks. Satisfied with the purchase Prost? 


"More, happier". 


Have you ever had a Ferrari? 


"No, but I have often desired it". 


Well, you might as well take it now... 


"Ill see if they lend me one".


Poor Italians. In Monza we talk a lot about Ferrari, a bit about the Seine and Prost, but there is not much glory for the many Italian drivers. A fourth place of Patrese, but it is in the norm, the P5 of Jean Alesi, who boasts parents of Alcamo, the P7 of Martini, happy because it is already almost at the top of the possibilities, the P11 of Alex Caffi, classified but also retired (engine broken on his Dallara shortly after leaving De Cesaris for a similar problem). Yet the Italian drivers did not have a bad race: Capelli unleashed at the beginning and eliminated by the failure of the eight-cylinder engine Judd of his March, Nannini in function only of cameraman, because tires and brakes of his Benetton did not work. Larini was doing well too, but you do not go far if the gearbox does not work. Then Pirro forced to abandon on the first lap, Alboreto out for an electrical problem. Not to mention Modena disqualified on Saturday and the various Ghinzani-Tarquini at home already in pre-qualifying. In short, a half disaster. De Cesaris even hit his teammate Caffi at the start, because they both snuck into the group, but hardly anyone noticed, apart from the Dallara men. Something is still moving. Michele Alboreto would be very close to move to Arrows, the British team that would like to hire the Finnish Letho, to rebuild a pair that was together with Ferrari, one as a driver, the other as a test driver. Unless the Milanese is detained by Lola about to be bought by an Italian group. New also for Eddie Cheever who suffered the shame of not qualifying, after winning last year in Monza the third place behind Berger and Alboreto. The American has never hidden the intention to return one day to the United States to try the adventure of Formula Indy. And it seems that he has a favorable opportunity: it is not excluded that after racing with Alfa Romeo in Formula 1, Cheever can be hired by the Milanese team for next year. In any case at Arrows, who lost Warwick (who moved to Lotus, who also hired the young and promising Martin Donnelly), Eddie will hardly want to stay after this years disappointments. Among other things, the good designer of the English team, Ross Brawn, was contacted by other teams, the Ligier for example, for which should drive Nicola Larini.  In conclusion, in Monza, Jean-Marie Balestre (president of the French Automobile Federation, but also of the FISA, that is, of the body that groups the sporting emanations of all countries, and of the FIA, the world association of Automobile Clubs), is a unique character. Depending on the occasion, he is nice or angry, soft or hard, and always on the right side. In Monza, the French manager intervenes on the events concerning Prost. He had already done so last year, when it seemed that the Frenchman had problems with Honda in the season finale. The driver feared an intervention by the Japanese in favor of Ayrton Senna in the fight for the Formula 1 World Title. There had been an exchange of peppy statements on both sides before the Brazilians world victory. Now history repeats itself. During the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Balestre has spoken several times on the subject. First statement: 


"Im going to Japan to make sure Prost gets the same treatment as the Brazilian". 


A few hours later retracted: 


"Prost uses his troubles to look for supports". 


At the end of the ride adds: 


"Prosts victory is a divine revenge. His McLaren engine had 20 hp less than Sennas. Next year Alain will form a magical pair with Mansell in Ferrari". 


Obviously Honda does not like these statements, because their integrity is questioned. As a result, the Japanese company informs McLaren that it refuses to supply Alain Prost with engines until the end of the season. A line of conduct from authentic politician, full of contradictions perhaps wanted. Certainly, the image of Formula 1 does not come out well. In any case, Jean-Marie Balestre knows how to be a character at any cost, as when he recently sold his Ferrari F40, purchased with the discount, with a gain of over a billion lire, justifying with this sentence the transfer of the car: 


"You could not refuse such an offer". 


In Monza, Jean-Marie Balestre was the protagonist of disconcerting episodes, even a little unlucky, but significant of this particular character who dominates the motor scene. In one day, he combined several. First he literally threw the poor Frank Williams to the ground, who travels in a wheelchair after being paralyzed in a very serious car accident that happened two years ago. The builder moved his arms and the president interpreted the gesture as a request for help to push the chair, but he did it clumsily, making the victim fall face down on the asphalt. Then Balestre met the Soviet delegation visiting Monza to prepare the possible organization of a Grand Prix in the USSR. 


"I know everything, Im going to Leningrad next month". 


But in the meantime the officials from the East replied:


"But we want to compete in Moscow...".


And Crossbows: 


"As in Moscow? It is better Leningrad". 


And the Soviets argue.


"Dear Crossbows, she comes to the USSR if we want". 


Again the president: 


"Then there is nothing". 


Insinuating reply: 


"You must understand that we have 27 votes in the board of the FIA". 


Then Crossbows: 


"All right, well see". 


But its not over. Back at the hotel in Milan, Balestre discovered that the usual strangers had emptied his wifes jewelry box, left unattended on a coffee table. Damage: 25.000.000 lire, at first estimate. Really a bad day.


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