Another troubled day for the Ferrari and Schumacher. Tuesday 6 August 1996, busy with the specific test to the set up of the car for the Italian Grand Prix, the German fail to complete his program. During the morning the World Champion must stop the simulation of the race after ten laps for an engine problem. Schumacher He noticed that, perhaps due to a failure of the rev limiter, there is a drawback and prefers to stop before breaking the V10, ending in the sand at the second Lesmo turn. Replaced the engine, the pilot in the afternoon tries again to make a run, but already at the first lap he has to return to the pit with the engine off. Cause of the stop: an air bubble on the cooling that raises temperatures. Also fixed this problem, Schumacher restart but he goes straight at the first variant damaging the car that was brought back with the front wing broken. Schumacher in total he still manages to accomplish 48 laps, always with the gearbox with 7 gear that had already covered about 350 kilometers on the car driven by Irvine Monday. The best time of the morning is 1'25"60, in the afternoon 1'26"76. The difference is explain by the fact that after changing the height of the kerbs the circuit managers noticed that the drivers (on track also Frentzen with the Sauber) they cut the chicanes. For that they put the pins to avoid strange excursion.
"We had few problems, but are things that happen in this days. The off track it was my mistake, I’ve come too long. We will try again to run the distance of a race today, hoping it gets better. In any case the gearbox is working fine".
To who is asking if you are positive for the Hungarian Grand Prix of Sunday, he answer:
"I was positive in Hockenheim and we were not brilliant. Now I say that I’m negative".
The Ferrari, meanwhile, officially confirms that he exercised the option he had on Irvine. So the nord-Ireland driver will drive for the team of Maranello with Michael Schumacher also during the 1997 Championship.
"Here There’s nothing left to do, now we know everything about the track. The race of Budpest is waiting for us but I only have a prediction: a family battle between the two drivers of the Williams".
Wednesday 7 August 1996 Michael Schumacher complete the tests of the Ferrari into the Monza circuit, that on Sunday 8 September will host the Italian Grand Prix and, as already anticipated on Thursday, do not unbalance on the possibilities of the cars of Maranello at the Hungaroring. The German waiver to simulate a race because the special engine for this type of tests is not available. Schumacher is working again on the set-up and on the aerodynamics, exploring every possibility of the car with, like, limit braking that also causes a couple of harmless road exits. In total, the Ferrari driver still makes 52 laps, the fastest in 1'26"08. From the three days of commitment by Ferrari, apart from the development of the F310, there is a positive note: the new gearbox with 7 gear is promoted and it will be taken in Spa, for the Belgian Grand Prix. While the same Schumacher is talking, in an interview for a German weekly, into his new home in Switzerland. He will live in Vufflens Les Chateau, a town of 450 people on the French zone: the house (15 rooms and 6 bathrooms) a house that the driver rented that was estimated at a figure equal to 6.000.000.000 lire. Maybe Michael will host, in Switzerland, his young brother Ralf that on Thursday, if everything it’ll be okay, he will make his debut with a single-seater of Formula 1 at Silverstone. The test was organized by Mercedes and McLaren and the young Schumacher trained himself for two days on a Formula 3000.
The World Champion said when they asked him what he thinked about the audition. In the meanwhile from England arrive the news that the Tyrrell has confirmed also for the next year the promising Finnish Mika Salo. The driver market is waiting to have information about the future of Damon Hill. The leader of the ranking is negotiating to stay at the Williams with a double hiring, but in the meanwhile he made contact with McLaren and Jordan. The McLaren, in the meantime, gives permission to his test-driver, the Danish Jan Magnussen, to go in the United States to make at least two races with the Penske-Mercedes to replace the injured Emerson Fittipaldi. To drive the Mercedes left free by Magnussen, at the International Touring Championship, will be the Italian Gianni Morbidelli. And the Minardi, after the push of Montezemolo, entrust to Giancarlo Fisichella the reserve role for the Italian Grand Prix. It’s not much, but it’s a step ahead for the driver from Rome that was left free in Formula 1. The Formula 1 drivers always compare with their lap times. Especially between teammates. The only real measuring stick. Between Alesi and Berger, that since they travel in pairs, before at the Ferrari and now in Benetton, in this sense there has been since the beginning a great rivalry. So much is true that, during the private practice, tends to stop at the track over the time allowed to get a better time. On Thursday 8 August 1996, when the French comes at the Hungaroring, in the afternoon, the Austrian joke with him:
"You thinked that you were the fastest in the tests of Silverstone. While I stopped for other ten minutes, the other night, and I beaten you".
Such an affront that usually would make Jean angry. But this time Alesi makes a big laugh:
"Actually, I screwed you over. While you were lapping at the circuit, I leaked to all the World that soon I will have a baby. So also in this area, we’ll at least equal. For the races we are gonna see, I’ll keep beating you as before".
It’s an happy moment for Alesi. The Benetton is growing up. At Hockenheim it came close to the Williams and the French reached the second place after Berger - two laps from the end - he broke the engine while he was first. But the joy of this hours of the 32 years old French driver of Sicilian origin, is about his private life. Kumiko Goto, 22 years old, his girlfriend, is six months pregnant, she will have a baby in November. The story could be one of those that could fuel several episodes for a romance novel. Alesi, a returned of a marriage misadventure (he married Laurence, a girl of Avignone that he knew from always, but from the birth of a daughter, Charlotte, the union was already broken and the divorce is inevitable, he was sent in Japan for few promotional press conferences for his sponsor. Here in Japan met Kumiko, a girl with delicate features and tiny. It’s famous: she is one of best paid between the television actresses and fashion models in Japan. A popular hero, considered very good, a requested actress also for love films. It was a love at first sight. Since then the two are in love, compatibly with their professional commitments, they lived together. But for some time Kumiko was no longer seen. The evil ones claimed that the girl had been turned away from the pit by Briatore because she could disturb the driver. So the miss Goto was hounded by the Japanese press that were investigating about here disappearance. On Thursday the girl sent by fax an hand-written letter that has been released to the journals, magazines and major television chains. And a press conference is even convened, during which the letter is read and arouses great emotions:
"I’m happy, because I’ve found the love of my life. Now i’m pregnant, after three years that I’m with Jean. I didn’t forget my fans. But for now I have to abandon my job to be a mom. But I will come back soon and I will show you the baby".
Jean Alesi answer:
"Everything it’s true, we are having a baby. And we don’t want to know if it will be a boy or a girl, we want the surprise. We both wanted to complete our union, I love Kumiko. And a baby will be the perfect photograph of our love".
Into the ruthless of the Formula 1, so, happens also this. There’s the space for love, for a sentimental story. Nothing in common with the five children by three different woman of Nelson Piquet, incurable womanizer and a little distracted. But the previous ones are not lacking: the same Berger has a daughter of 17 years old, Cristina, from his first wife and another one from the second, the Portuguese Anna Corbu. Also Niki Lauda, two children with the beautiful Marlene, he is the father of other children. It is generally said: women and engines, joys and pains. But the drivers They don’t seem to care. And, especially when it comes to driving, Michael Schumacher doesn’t back down. On a track as the one of the Hungaroring, where style, ability and technology matter something, the German comes back. Nothing of amazing. We know the practice of the Friday have a relative value. So true is it that they are thinking to change the rules and to go back, in the 1997, to the official qualifying divided in two days. But, if you can use a obvious and rhetorical expression, good morning is seen from the morning. And to be second to only 0.022 seconds from Damon Hill is a good performance for the Ferrari, for the race.
"I can make the pole position, even if the target is the one of start from the first row. The truth is that our F130 is good on the low circuit. We made the best lap in Montecarlo, we can also repeat here in Hungary. When the aerodynamic pressure is at maximum, the Ferrari is very good. I’m even surprised".
Already pull out all the possible wing (that the other team already made), the technician of the team of Maranello are preparing a set-up of the cars that has to be very efficient. To the point that Eddie Irvine, for the moment, seems to make miracles, installing itself at the fourth place of the ranking, preceded by Jacques Villeneuve, over that Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher. On a track in poor condition, dirty, full of sand, slippery, which makes the first test session useless and bores the many spectators present, the Ferrari finally show their best face. Which he does not succeed, at the Benetton, with Berger and Alesi with difficulties with the grip and road holding. Everything could change on Saturday, because the asphalt it cleans and any adjustment must be changed. Jacques Villeneuve is a boy that goes against the tide. That’s because he does not know the diplomacy. To who is asking him if he really think he can battle for the Championship, the Canadian driver answer:
"Hill has an important advantage but there’s always the hope that he will make many mistakes".
Another question: how it has became so difficult to overtake in Formula 1?
"I don’t know how it was before, maybe the cars have changed a lot. But, in any case, is less also the bravery of the drivers. That means that who dares is considered a fool. The teams are asking to us to arrive at the end of the race, to take at home few points. And that doesn’t help to make a show".
the long stops at the pits permit to talk of matters pertaining from the race. As for example the good test made by Ralf Schumacher on Thursday with the McLaren in Silverstone. The young brother of the champion, 21 years old, has made absolute excellence timing. The 1'29"002 marked into the the best timing, he could have fit into the P9 of the grid of the Great Britain Grand Prix. Even if we have to take the distance, because this tryouts must always be valued for what they really are (for example they can drive a car under weight…), that’s because it need this to impress sponsor and suppliers - a things that the McLaren, at this time, has a great need. Michael Schumacher says, talking about the brother:
"I’m proud, because he has been very fast. I hope that soon Ralf can make its way for his value and not for being the brother of Schumacher. But, honestly, I think that neither of us would like to be on the same team, because one would always be defeated. I don’t believe that he is thinking to the Ferrari. Now it’s his time to decide about his future".
We will soon see if it was only a publicity stunt or if the practice will heave a concrete result. In any case, Willy Weber, manager of the two Schumacher and of Claudia Schiffer, begins to prepare for the future. They call him Mister 20% it’s not a event. It’s a good proportion of many billions is always a bargain. Meanwhile Damon Hill joke:
"If it comes another Schumacher it will be a problem for everyone, the next year. But, maybe, for it will not be a problem, because someone said that in the 1997 I will only play golf. Jokes apart I was rather surprised by Villeneuve and of the Ferrari that are so near. However i’m pretty quiet. The important will be to start ahead and not only score the best lap in the qualify. I had the pole in Hockenheim and at the first turn I was in third position. I want to avoid this. If I do, I won’t have any more problems".
The English, as most of the drivers, love this track in which the drive means something. But he don’t does not skimp on criticism:
"There are beautiful turns, interestings. The bad thing is that, actually, there isn’t a true straight. The top speed is not top of the 275 km/h. That means that is not enough fast to make the difference and there’s no special point to overtake. It’s the only circuit where you have the impression to be on the seashore, for the sand on the asphalt. And it’s dangerous to get out of the lines. That’s why the traffic is one of the most important elements of the race of tomorrow".
Go back and talk about the Hungarian Grand Prix, who would have thought that the Ferrari will start in pole position? On Saturday 10 August 1996, risen from its ashes, the team of Maranello regains the lost competitiveness. Credit to a circuit particularly favorable as the Hungaroring and the quality of Michael Schumacher, but also of a team that, despite everything, he manages to react to adversity. Because if the best time achieved by the German it were an isolated episode, we could think of it’s skill. But now in the second row, in P4, there’s also Eddie Irvine. The best qualify of the year, on the whole. It’s the sign that the car doesn’t go bad. A result that is a sensation, to the same Ferrari and between their rivals. And, at the end of the practices, Michael Schumacher say, smiling also with the eyes:
"I’m surprised and happy for the team. That hit the spot. That’s the better answer to who, rightly or unfairly, have buried us with criticism. We have shown that the Ferrari is not dead".
At this point you would expect the usual prudence: best time on the lap, but call for calm for the race. But no, this time Michael take a position:
"It’s good to be on pole, but even more beautiful will win. An hard fight, but we will try, definitely we will try".
The fight is already very close during the hour of the qualify to gain the positions of the grid. Michael Schumacher immediately showed, since the first attempt, that he had serious intentions. And he detached Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, the only able to trouble him, by more than 0.5 seconds. Then Jacques and Damon, with the knife between the teeth you are literally thrown on the track to overcome it. He succeeded the Canadian, for 0.010 seconds. It seemed to be made, at the start of yet another hoax of the last minute. But no. Schumacher took the road and went down to the 1'17"129, ending the lap with an average of 185.129 km/h. The two of the Williams, more savored than ever, are back on track, but this time only to shave off the gap: 0.053 seconds for the English, 0.130 seconds for the young teammate. For the German is the fourt pole of the season, the fourteenth of the career. At the end the circuit, practically painted red, in a riot of German and Ferrari flags, explodes in a roar, including applause, firecrackers, horns and shouts from sold out football stadium. Luca Montezemolo comments, arrived in Budapest with Edwin’s Fenech, and he left to suffer at the pit wall for almost all day:
"It seemed to be in Monza. This increadible cheer gives us the measure of what is our responsibility towards this people. How many German: I’ve never seen so many. It was important for us to return to the path. But in fact we started again from zero, before the trouble we had in Canada, at Magny-Cours and Silverstone. It has been a pole sought and desired. I was afraid that it would end up as in Hockenheim, when Hill overtook us in extremis. And i’m happy also for Irvine".
About the race in Germany it takes us to discover an increadible fact. In the press conference Michael Schumacher reveal that he raced both in Silverstone and in Hockenheim with a cracked rib. A blow suffered playing football with the mechanics at Imola during the private tests. And this explain, at least in part, the safe race of two week ago, when Schumacher was fourth also because the set-up of the car it wasn’t the right one.
"Now the pain is gone, we hope to give some to our rivals".
Montezemolo cuddles his Champion, then he call the “avvocato Agnelli” to give the good news and, before taking the airplane to go back in Italy, he unleashed again:
"It was decisive the talent of a champion as Michael Schumacher, that is very calm in every situation, but also the performances of the car are good. But this is not enough to win. I have discussed this with Prost and Lauda: reliability is very important. And for the rest of the year we’ve never been so bad in terms of time. The truth, at cold, is that from the pole I don’t care: think to win is not crazy. It would take what we never had this year: a great start".
Well yes. Most of the victory you play at the victory. The clutch of the Ferrari it seems to be better, but there’s no guarantees. Then the pit-stop will matter for the refueling, the tyre wear, the reliability. Ideally the battle is only between the Ferrari and the Williams, with Hill and Villeneuve again favorite. There’s some who don’t believe, but this time the superstition seems to have proved right to Montezemolo. The Ferrari president, that already in Silverstone he had presented himself with a small croissant in his pocket, this time at the Hungaroring has increased the dose: a red coral amulet, with gold handle, about ten centimeters long.
"A friend of mine from Naples, a Ferrari fan, gave it to me".
He explains laughing while repeatedly stroking the horn, exhibiting it without hesitation. At the end the luck, under the shape of the pole of Michael Schumacher, has arrived. In the Formula 1 World the superstition is at home: superstitious rites repeated at each Grand Prix, special clothing or small lucky objects, such as the coin that Lauda invariably put on gloves before each race. But everything it’s possible. Should be excluded from the battle Benetton and McLaren, far behind. Briatore, although he hope that Alesi and Berger perform a miracle, takes comfort buying the 15% who he missed for being the sole owner of Ligier. But he suffers from observing his former driver. For the Italians a good news: Giovanni Lavaggi, 38 years old, Count and engineer, the only Italian driver of the Circus, he manages to qualify with the Minardi.
"For me it’s like a victory. I stayed on the grid for a tenth of a second".
Lavaggi, that had to bring 1.500.000 lire of sponsor to compete in the last five race, so he earns back the first 300.000.000 lire. Sunday 11 August 1996, at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix Michael Schumacher keeps the first position, while Damon Hill, started from the dirty side of the track, was overtaken by his teammate Jacques Villeneuve and from Jean Alesi that was to a good start from the fifth position. The French block the Williams driver, while Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve fly away, with the Canadian that tries to put pressure on the rival; the German doesn't make mistakes and Villeneuve can overtake him only after the first few pist-stop. The move fails instead to his teammate, that he find traffic during the last lap before refueling and he stays behind Jean Alesi; the French driver made a big mistakes during the lap 27 and Damon Hill took advantage, passing it and starting to come back very quickly on Michael Schumacher. While Villeneuve merely administers the advantage, Hill continues to set fast lap, passing Schumacher during the second set of pit-stop and he starts the chase to his teammate. Jacques Villeneuve is able to handle the situation, even if there was a problem with the fixing of a rear wheel in the third and final stop at the pits; the Canadian gets his third victory of the season with a small advantage on Damon Hill, of only 0.771 seconds. Michael Schumacher, instead, he retires to seven laps to the end, with the accelerator, of his Ferrari, blocked; Jean Alesi after he took advantage of the retire of his teammate - Gerhard Berger - for the engine failure, gets the third place. Fourth is Mika Häkkinen, he lost one lap with his McLaren-Mercedes, ending in fifth and sixth position: Olivier Panis, with the Ligier-Mugen Honda, and Rubens Barrichello with the Jordan-Peugeot. Being the fastest during the practice of the qualification is already a step ahead. But that’s not enough. And the Ferrari, in the Hungarian Grand Prix, had to once again bow to Williams' overt superiority in racing. Nothing to do for Michal Schumacher and Eddie Irvine, once again forced to retire, the German champion in the end while he was, without any problem, in third position. The reliability of the cars of Maranello has not been found yet, problems continue.
"I dreamed for a recovery in this end of the season and, at least, be an arbitrator of the battle for the title between Hill and Villeneuve. Now, instead, given how things are going, it’s even hard to think I can win a second race before the end of the Championship".
Sure, it would take a nice dose of presumption, at this point, to believe that you can somehow bother the strongest couple, the one formed by the English and the Canadian, that proved to be the undisputed protagonists of the title challenge. Who instead has bellicose intentions is the young Jaques Villeneuve, that he obtained the third victory in Formula 1, of which two in the last three races. Jacques, without reverential fears towards the team-mate and also helped by the situation at Williams advising not to favor the poor Damon (who is struggling with a problematic contract renewal because he wants to earn more money), gave another proof of his potential and of a great talent. If it’s sure that the quality of the car, driven by the twenty-five year old Canadian driver, are amazing - the Williams takes at home with well advance his eight Constructor World Title - it’s also true that Jacques Villeneuve knows how to interpret it and guide it in the best possible way. The Canadian driver won the race thanks to a great start (even if Michael Schumacher has kept the pole position with a brilliant start after the recent problems), he attacked without ever making a mistake and then in the end he withstood very well to the furious return of Damon Hill that he finished at the second place. It did not disturb Jacques Villeneuve’s concentration even a little problem at the box during the last refueling had made him lose precious seconds. But what is surprising is his calm and the absolute security that concerns its target. And at the end of the race, the Canadian says with an evil smile directed to Damon Hill:
"The accounts are soon made. Now my team-mates has 17 points of advantage. There’s only four races to the end of the Championship. So I have to win them all and hope that, he at least once, does not place himself in second place. It will not be easy, you understand, that it’s not impossible. WhenI arrived in Formula 1 I didn’t make precise plans. But I didn’t even come here to make a pretty figurine. Because i’m near the finish line, be sure I want to try. I’m not the type to give up before time. I have nothing to lose while Damon is playing a nice slice of credibility".
The one of the Hungaroring is a cursed track for the Ferrari. Except for the victory in the 1989 with Nigel Mansell (that in this occasion he started from the P13), the team of Maranello, here, had only great bitterness, and also this time Michael Schumacher, after a good start and still safe as third behind Jaques Villeneuve and Damon Hill, he had to retire with seven laps to the end, giving up a podium that seemed to be his. So a witched track for the Ferrari, but exactly the opposite for the Williams, that on eleven editions of the race they won six times. The last, as we said, with Jacques Villeneuve: a victory that has brought to the English team the eight Constructors World Title . Now that the team took away the title from the Benetton, has the same number of title of the Ferrari, that alone held the record of world victories. But with results obtained in much shorter times, given that the team of Maranello is present since the 1950, while Frank Williams made his debut in the 1973, when it carried the name: Iso, matched to the Italian Iso-Rivolta that built grand touring cars with powerful American engines. Williams would have been enough a fifth place, two points, even if the Benetton had conquered the first and the second place, to earn the trophy. Enough to justify even a prudent tactic. Instead no: total attack, without saving energy, to give spectacle. As Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill did until the last moment, making laps faster and faster, engaging in a duel that was the dominant motive of the race. Admits the British manufacturer, speaking from his wheelchair, without betraying too many emotions:
"I’m very happy. For the team and for the Renault. Eight titles are a lot. But it’s not the end: there is a long future for the Williams, I can assure it, I live for that".
Then, Frank Williams says that the show offered by his driver it was great, that there were no team orders, that Hill and Villeneuve were free to race.
"About Damon there’s no hurry to talk about the contract, we can even do it next year. Now we think about the Drivers’ title, then we will see".
Cryptic words, that it might sound also a warning to the thirty-five year old driver from London, beat by his team-mate without any excuse, on a track that the Canadian had never seen before Thursday. At the end. The builder also give a word of comfort for Ferrari:
"It remains the second force of the season, I think tha Schumacher is, always, more competitive and the car is getting better".
Diplomacy is never a waste, in the long run it can always serve. And, in any case, if the rivals are strong, most of the merits is of who wins. Damon Hill, appeared pulled and with his eyes dug, he lost the race at the start. He was in second place next to Michael Schumacher, he started bad - or too much cautious - and he was overtaken by the same Jacques Villeneuve and by Jean Alesi that who took advantage of the opened passage by the Ferrari driven by the German. Strange fact: the English for a misunderstanding had not been warned by his engineer that he should do two pit-stop and not three, as it was. But this did not change the situation much. Added behind Jean Alesi which was slower, Damon Hill has lost, little by little, about twenty seconds. The time that prevented him from fighting for victory. Needless, therefore, a nice overtaking on the Frenchman struggling with a round and arrived along the next corner, useless a fantastic chase that led him to break several times the lap record. Now, with an advantage of 17 points, ideally Hill could be calm, also because the next races should be particularly favourable to him, especially in two weeks in Spa, a circuit that, once again, his rival-mate don’t know. But the Canadian doesn’t seem to want to let go:
"We all know what are the defects of Hill. He can’t stand the pressure on the race. If he is in the lead alone, away from the the chasers is almost uncatchable and If he chases, he’s strong. But, since we have the same car, it won’t be easy to keep me behind. So I had very fun here in Budapest and I believe that the end of the Championship will be very interesting, also for the public".
Amazing performances on Saturday, best time with over 0.6 seconds of advantage in the morning during the warm-up, then the disaster. Irvine soon out for another failure of the gearbox, Schumacher forced to the abandonment for a failure of the hydraulic system that has blocked the throttle. For the first time the German, always very positive also in the most difficult moments, shows some signs of discouragement. The report for the German, since he is in Ferrari, except for the victory in Spain under the rain, is very poor. Out of twelve games played, only five times scored points . And he can’t even complain because his team-mate, Eddie Irvine, is even worse. The North-Irish has reached the ninth retire, the fifth in a row. Another nice disappointment for the team of Maranello, that they hoped to have found reliability. The trip to the East, however, brought only two positive notes: the pole position, obtained also thanks to the characteristics of the slow circuit and the start that, this time, it was perfect, thanks to the changes made on the clutch. Apart from this into the race it repeated a series of problems. The break of the gearbox on the car of Irvine it’s the exact copy of what left him on foot only fifteen days ago, at Hockenheim. So who hoped to have found the right solution was wrong, the trouble is there and remains. It is completely new, instead, the inconvenience that, seven laps to the end, stopped Schumacher, it’s even difficult to understand. Basically went into tilt the control unit that controls the operation of the electronic gearbox.
"I felt the first negative signals three laps before stopping. The accelerator had hardened and was almost stuck. To avoid an off track at the entrance of some turns I had to turn off the engine with the emergency button we have in the cockpit. Then I turned it back on. At some point I was wrong and I pushed the button that sends the gearbox in neutral. And the engine was silent".
More frustrated than usual to have lost a third place at hand?
"Not much. I already said and repeated many times, I’ve never thinked, this year, to fight for the title. And so everything else counts for little".
"I’d be more if we broke a suspension or a wing. From Canada forward we worked a lot on the reliability, but it showed up a new problem".
And in two week you are gonna race in Spa, a difficult track.
"It’s a circuit that I really like, the most challenging of the Championship, where I made my debut and I made some of my most beautiful races, winning few. I hope that, atleast, in the next race can be avoided some trouble and that the car is competitive. We don’t give up".
The F310 went strong in timed practice, but during the race it wasn’t competitive.
"It’s true. Finally I made a great start and i’m glad. But in the end, however, I would never go further the third place. With fresh tires the car was doing well, but when they wear out It was hard to keep it on track. The Williams was much faster also because it did not wear out the tires. Unfortunately our car, again, is too much sensitive to the difference that there are between a track and the other. And this makes difficult the work to the set up of the car. For example during the test of Monza we didn’t heave any problem with the tires".
From Wednesday 14 to Friday 16 August 1996, Michael Schumacher will be busy in Barcelona in a series of test wanted by Goodyear, with the drivers of the Williams and of the Ligier. At home, instead, Eddie Irvine will be busy on practices at Fiorano. At the end of the race, the North-Irish driver has no sweat:
"I race so poorly that I can’t get tired. Do you want to know how do I feel to not see anymore the checkered flag on the finish line? Well, now I’m almost accustomed. And I have to say that the car was not so bad. Then I lost oil from the gearbox, the liquid ended up on the rear wheels and I did quite a spin".
So the Ferrari gets back in Maranello without having resolved their doubts. But that doesn’t mean to give up. During the four races that they remain to dispute it will be seen something new on the F130, little changes that could be decisive. Butt hey are working, especially, on the engine: the V10 for his setting features is an ugly beast, difficult to tame. The team of Maranello has already made the half of the work By making it powerful and competitive, it is now a question of eliminating its defects, not least that of vibrations that could be one of the main causes of so many evils.
"It’s a negative period, that puts my and of the team’s motivations in crisis. We have to overcome it. I have to admit it that in this season there are most problems of what we were expecting. It’s difficult to find a logic reason. We improved in many sectors of the car, then some things happen and we have to start from zero".
The Hungarian Grand Prix seems to have put an end to certain optimism, even if in Ferrari they hope they can win another race, before the end of the a Championship. There are other four races to race. And it could be everything at the reach of the F310 if there wasn’t the unknown reliability and above all there was not this unbeatable Williams.
"With four pole position and a victory in Spain, we are the only one that since the start of the championship we gave them a little tickle to Hill and Villeneuve".
We could won in Monte Carlo, unfortunately where Michael ran off track during the first lap, but it’s clear that the merits of the pilot far outweigh his understandable mistakes. Being the best of the seconds (a data neither relieved by the rankings, since the Ferrari risks the third place with the attack of the McLaren, that it’s behind of a point and that Schumacher is threatened in the fourth position by Hakkinen) but It’s hardly in any use. The true problem is that the little consistency of the car that, not only, it breaks down very easily but also has alternate current performances. In Germany there was a general impression that to get to the finish had given up pushing to the limit. Then there was also the revelation of Michael Schumacher who said he cracked a rib a while back.so he wasn’t in the best shape. But the most the most disturbing aspect, apart from the resulting failures - as has been repeatedly explained - it was the fact that the car was totally new (even the 95% of the pieces), is represented by the performances at alternate current. Fast for few laps, the F310 has become much undriveable in most races. In Budapest, Schumacher obtained his best time during the second lap when he had fresh tires but with enough fuel in the tank. After that the tires were always in crisis, while the Williams turned like a train on the tracks. An unbalanced aerodynamics, but also suspension arrangements that do not behave in a regular manner. It seemed like that last changes with the high nose and the new configuration of the at least part of the trouble had been solved. Instead the rear continues to be light. Unfortunately, there is no safe medicine to cure Ferrari. Calling for radical changes in the team right now could be a deadly blow. The fans of patience have already had so much, too much. But any heavy hand surgery risks losing the only certain values that are represented by Schumacher and the desire of the team to find the right path. At this point you can only wait, hope, remember that the Ferrari had anticipated that it would be an adjustment season. It’s hard to accept, but there’s no option. In the meanwhile the Williams celebrate the eight title and is about to conquer the drivers title, a little controversy breaks out about Renault engines. Gerhard Berger, two times forced to retire because of the engine while he was in the head positions, sounds an alarm:
"At the French company have to work, otherwise next year will be trouble".
Strange: Renault also equips the Williams that isn’t so bad. And yet, to see the face of Jean Alesi you understand everything. If the French is happy for an unexpected third place, for sure he is upset for a decision that was imposed to him by the team. An episode happened during the lap 58, when the team imposed him to switch with Berger that followed him. To who asks him how the overtaking happened, Jean replies:
"I don’t know, ask to the team".
A type of orders, this, that the fiery driver of Sicilian origin has never liked. Last year, when Jean Todt asked him to do the same thing (always with Berger…) Alesi became a fury. Apart from this the French has consolidated his third place on the rankings, which he does not mind. But certainly he hoped for a season much more brilliant.
"Get on the podium in Hungary, in a circuit that I hate, when at the start I didn’t thought I had no hope for a placement, a good result. But I hope that this is the last race on this track".
At this moment we don’t know if he will be heard: it seems that the race will happen again in the coming years, changing the day. The success of public it was big, well beyond the most optimistic forecasts, with 160.000 visitors. Back to Alesi, the Briatore care did him good. Jean learned to drive even from accountant, to collect as much as possible when he can not battle for the top. But for him is a force, because he is a born striker, who makes heart and courage his best weapon. He always shows this with exceptional starts.
"And I hope I can make race as I want, with the foot always on the throttle and not on the brake".