Williams-Bmw’s complaint against Ralf Schumacher’s possible penalty in the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix will be examined by the FIA in Paris on Tuesday, 12 August, 2003: the verdict is expected by Wednesday, 20 August, 2003. For the British team his driver has no responsibility in the accident occurred after the start of the German Grand Prix, following which they withdrew the same Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen, the German driver risks a penalty of ten positions in the next starting grid.
"Until 2004 I have a contract with Williams, but I am already in negotiations with several teams for 2005 and I am considering more than one option".
Juan Fabio Montoya, fresh winner of the German Grand Prix, thinks about his future in Formula 1 and does not hide having received several offers. The Colombian driver adds that:
"The Toyota project is currently the most interesting one. It is a team with practically unlimited budget".
Montoya denies the rumors which would already give to completed the agreement with McLaren.
"No decision has been made yet. I know there’s a lot of rumors going around in my account, and that can only please me because it means I’m working well. But there is nothing concrete".
The Colombian, who occupies the second position on the Formula 1 World Championship with 6 points from the leader Michael Schumacher, does not imbalance on their chances:
"It’s hard to say how many chances I have to become champion, because you can go well in a grand prix and then maybe break the engine in the next one. If I win the title, fine. Otherwise I will remain calm".
Since hope is always the last to die, even Ralf Schumacher doesn’t give up on pursuing his dream of becoming Formula 1 World Champion. But if this goal were precluded, the Williams-Bmw driver wouldn’t hesitate a moment to help his teammate, the Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, to beat his brother, Michael Schumacher. In an interview with the newspaper Bild, Ralf Schumacher plays the serious professional who respects commitments, without caring about blood ties.
"I am an employee of Williams-Bmw, and if I were in such a situation, I would give a hand to my teammate".
Ralf is willing to put on the bill even a fistfight with his brother.
"Michael knows that Formula 1 is not the book of wishes and that there is a lot of money at stake. If I have the opportunity to win the world title for my team, I will do everything to make this happen".
Only on Wednesday afternoon, a little more than a day before the first practice of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Ralf Schumacher will know if he can start from the place of the grid won in qualifying, or if he will have to fall back by ten positions. The story, however, takes a curious, intriguing and even disturbing. It was, in fact, communicated by Formula One Management (that is, by the company of Ecclestone) that for the first time in the history of motoring the court hearing will be filmed by the German television Rtl. A way to show that everything happens regularly, with the demands of justice? Or did Ecclestone manage to sell this off-plan too? It is easier to go for the second hypothesis, since there will be only one broadcaster’s cameras, which in all probability paid royalties. One thing is certain: Bernie manages to get money out of a turnip. What happens next? Selling rights when drivers go to pee? Afelio sport has been opened a new road. Kimi Raikkonen, on the other hand, is the one who always walks on the old road, and evidently does not have a great esteem of rivals and in particular of Michael Schumacher.
"He is just like the others. The fact that he won five World Championships means little, does not mean that he is the best driver".
For someone who has so far only won one tender, it is a true act of modesty. On Tuesday morning, Ralf Schumacher, Williams driver, tried to clear himself from the accusations of causing the accident in the German Grand Prix. He was penalized for this by relegation of ten places on the starting grid of the next Hungarian Grand Prix. Williams' lawyer, Hunter, explains the reasons for the appeal for an hour and a half using film and drawings. In the presence of the drivers involved (Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen are also present), the lawyer insists on Ralf’s reduced field of vision, the blind spot of the mirrors and the absence of a representative of Williams at the audition of the driver by the commissioners. For the defense, therefore, the German is not responsible for what is defined by them a race accident. Ralf Schumacher confirms the meeting with the commissioners:
"It lasted no more than four minutes and the president, Hoosein, was particularly aggressive while the other two didn’t speak to me".
Unusual fact, for the first time the FIA opens the use of its court to the press, letting six journalists enter the room. The sentence will come on Wednesday. And while Ralf suffers the trial, his brother Michael, interviewed on the eve of the Hungarian Grand Prix, doesn’t shy away from the request for a prediction:
"On the Budapest circuit we have a recent positive tradition. In 2001, I won the drivers' title and, with the help of Rubens, we also took home the constructors' title. Last year we repeated the double, with Rubens first and there was a second party for the teams’ title. So why not aim for a good result this year?"
The Hungaroring circuit has undergone some changes that could make overtaking easier:
"We will only find out on Friday if the changes were so significant. The Hungarian Grand Prix is a race where strategy choices play a very important role and this could play in our favor, as we have proven to be quite strong in this field".
The ban on private trials prevented new solutions from being brought to the track, but this doesn’t detract confidence to Michael:
"It’s true, the F2003-GA won’t be different from the one seen at Hockenheim, except for the obvious aerodynamic adaptations, but that doesn’t make me less optimistic. We know what the situation is in the championship and we will do everything to fight for the victory. I feel rested and relaxed after a few days of vacation. But I really want to go racing again and I can’t wait to sit in the cockpit of my Ferrari".
In the end, on Wednesday, August 20, 2003, Ralf Schumacher and Williams received only a fine of $50.000: the FIA Appellate Court annulled the ten-seat penalty imposed on the driver on the starting grid in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen were also responsible for the accident at the start.
"Having heard the explanations of the parties and examined documents and other evidence, the Tribunal confirmed the conclusions of the race commissioners against Ralf Schumacher, but considering that the penalty imposed was inappropriate it replaced it with a fine".
The driver defended himself claiming that Raikkonen’s car was outside his viewing angle. The four judges send the collected dossier to the commissioners of Hockenheim to examine the conduct of the race of Barrichello and Raikkonen in the light of the report drawn up by Peter Wright, technical and safety consultant. New at Renault: the contract of the two drivers, the Spanish Fernando Alonso and the Italian Jarno Trulli is extended to the whole of 2004.
"A stable environment is one of the indispensable elements for success".
The final sprint of the World Championship begins in Budapest. Michael Schumacher leads the others: Juan Pablo Montoya is 6 points behind, Kimi Raikkonen 9 points behind. Mathematics also gives some hope to Ralf Schumacher, who is 19 points behind and, recovering, would end up hurting his teammate. For Rubens Barrichello the chances ended in the clash at the start of the German Grand Prix. An incident that leaves a legal trail: Ralf Schumacher is guilty, as the German commissioners had ruled, but gets away with a fine of $ 50.000 instead of a penalty of ten places on the grid. Instead, the position of the Brazilian and Kimi Raikkonen has reopened, both involved in the carambola and at first exonerated. The stewards of the German Grand Prix will meet on Friday in Budapest, examine new data collected by a technical consultant and decide on possible sanctions. Barrichello and Raikkonen could suffer in turn a relegation in the starting line, their teams would appeal, the sentence would be suspended. Or, more wisely, judges will just hand out fines that upset team managers. In Hungary, the ten teams will take to the track with the same cars deployed three weeks ago in Hockenheim, because in August testing is prohibited and the development of engines and electronics slows down. Aerodynamics don’t present major problems: maximum load, as in Monte-Carlo. The track has been modified to allow some overtaking, there are 300 meters more straight, but no one expects the show seen at Silverstone. For this reason strategies will be decisive: it is important to be light enough to qualify ahead, but not too much to not have to retrain after a few laps. A nice rebus for pit strategists. Ferrari plays in defense: the heat favors the rivals of Williams-Bmw with Michelin tires, which have already dominated in Germany. Every little mistake, every little point lost could lose the World Championship. Michael Schumacher’s six-point lead is a small treasure to keep in these lean times.
Having three opponents still in contention could prove to be an advantage: Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya risk stealing points and playing the leader of the standings, Ralf Schumacher promised that he will help his teammate at the cost of losing his brother, but he might change his mind (Frank Williams has always assured that drivers are left free to battle). There are no easy races, but the Grand Prix that will be held at the Hungaroring is one of those complicated, although the tradition is favorable. A year ago Ferrari won the fourth consecutive Constructors' Title on this track, in 2001 it was Michael Schumacher himself who closed the accounts two months in advance.
"We knew it would be tough, we’ve been saying it since February. In the lead, however, there are always us. No other team won five races in 2003".
The Ferrari team also leads the constructors' championship, but with just two points left, the support of Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher becomes decisive. After passing Hungary, Ferrari will face the last three races with greater chances. The Monza circuit is very suitable for the F2003-GA, in Indianapolis the cars of Maranello have always dominated, Suzuka is the track on which Bridgestone studies its compounds. Even in 2000, the worst moments of the season were lived in Budapest and Spa (where this year there is no race), while the final trio of Michael Schumacher brought back to Maranello a trophy that had been missing for twenty-one years. The goal is to repeat. On Thursday, August 21, 2003, Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya said goodbye at the entrance of the Hungaroring, then joined their respective motorhomes, met the engineers, and set the pace for the pre-qualifying of the Hungarian Grand Prix. They used to take to the door on the track and they hated each other cordially in the pits, today they respect each other, respect each other and consider each other the most fearsome opponents. And these are their predictions and their hopes four races from the end. Who will win the World Championship? Michael Schumacher responds:
"I’m optimistic because the team worked very well and I am six points ahead Juan Pablo in the standings. It is right that we find difficulties at Hockenheim for the Williams, but we don’t have to forget that two weeks before, at Silverstone, Ferrary dominates. We will play it to the last. It will be hard, but I feel favored".
"I will respond when we are in Suzuka on sunday evening. It’s Michael to have the best chance at the moment beacuse he is first in the standings. The championship is going well for me and my team. We improve from race to race, so anything can happen. Let’s wait and see".
Ferrari has won the last two editions of the Budapest Grand Prix, even if Williams is in the lead in the predictions. Is the outcome of the race so obvious? Replies the German driver:
"The track will say it. The balance changes quickly in Formula 1, although we are not favorites. After, starting from Monza, the good times will return. We can accept to be slower in a couple of races, because then we will be able to recover with technical development".
While the Colombian replies:
"The Budapest circuit is not suitable for Ferrari. It is true that I have never won a point here, but the car has improved so much that success is within our reach".
The Hungaroring has been modified. The pit straight is 202 metres longer, so you may see some overtaking. Do you like the new track?
"Yes, now it is more technical, as I like it. I can not wait to experience the news".
Adds the Williams driver:
"I have always liked the city of Budapest more than its circuit. Now the situation seems to me to have improved: in my opinion, the changes will favour us and, in this regard, I have some ideas to develop with our engineers. It would be nice to come home with a win".
Ralf Schumacher avoided the penalty of ten places at the start of the accident in Hockenheim and was only fined: is it a fair judgment? The brother answers:
"Sure. The condemnation decided by the commissioners in Germany seemed too severe".
While the teammate says:
"This decision puts Ralf back in the race for the Campi0nato World Championship. It is good for the team and the championship will increase in interest".
Will the tyres once again be decisive?
"The package counts, that is chassis, engine and tires together".
While Juan Pablo Montoya says:
"When Schumacher won, everyone said he was a champion. Now that I win, everyone says it depends on tires".
The heat, however, has so far favored the Michelin over the Bridgestone. Michael Schumacher replies:
"Bridgestone has worked hard to provide us with more and more competitive tyres. Let’s wait before making any judgments".
And the Colombian pilot replied:
"For the moment the temperature is cooler than in Germany. I hope that the sun returns, because so far it has helped us. I feel physically in great shape: I spent the last week on vacation in my home in Miami and I am prepared to face a torrid climate".
With four Grand Prix to go, the World Championship is still open: do you enjoy yourself more than in 2002? Replies the Ferrari driver:
"Let’s say the challenge is challenging. Being chased by Montoya, Raikkonen and Ralf can even be an advantage for me, because they end up taking points from each other. Apart from that, I had more fun a year ago, when I always won".
While the Williams driver admits:
"I am experiencing my best season in Formula 1. Very enjoyable, although we are all under constant pressure. For Michael it is an advantage, he is in the lead".
The extra weapon to win this World Championship?
"We have to keep working, do our best, avoid mistakes. Everyone has had ups and downs, only at the end we will know who is the best".
While the Colombian says:
"Easy: those who know how to make the most of the car will win".
But perhaps, it will not be only this that will benefit Michael Schumacher or Juan Pablo Montoya, since the crisis of Ferrari has a deep red color. The F2003-GA seen on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 August 2003 at the Hungaroring is slower than Williams-Bmw, McLaren-Mercedes and Renault. And Michael Schumacher, for the third time in a row, qualified behind his teammate: a negative record for him. Without a test of pride, an invention, an apt strategy, the Maranello team risks losing the leadership on two fronts, the Drivers' World Championship and the Constructors' Championship. That the Hungarian Grand Prix was a critical stage of the World Championship, was repeated in Maranello for some time. As from February, they explain that the 2002 season will remain unforgettable and unrepeatable. But the current gap from the opponents surprises everyone a little. Fernando Alonso takes the second pole position of the year and his career on a slow and technical circuit that Renault face as if they were racing on a track. Too bad for Jarno Trulli, who is the fastest on Friday and Saturday is forced to settle for the sixth place on the grid, however ahead of the likes of Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher. The eighth place of the World Champion, worst qualifying of the year, has an official explanation: the tyre pressure in the first sector of the circuit was insufficient. Then it got up because of the heat of the track and the friction, the performance improved. Too late to do anything good. But the German driver tries to joke:
"I have to go around looking for the tithes I lost on the way".
Before the technicians discovered the problem, he had taken all the blame:
"The wind didn’t bother me, the dirt on the track was the same for everyone, Barrichello was faster, so the result depends on me".
The only consolation of the day is that the most dangerous opponents, those able to take away the world title, are ahead but not too: seventh Kimi Raikkonen (will start from the clean side of the track), fourth the Colombian (dirty side) between Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
"It doesn’t matter who wins, it’s important to get close to them. It’s going to be a long race. Changes to the circuit in theory allow to overtake, but it is better not to get any illusions. Our strong point are strategies: usually we are able to adapt quickly to situations. Don’t worry, tonight I’ll think of my family, not Montoya".
Rubens Barrichello (fifth) has his own vision of the problem: the time trial gives him the same time to the thousandth of Juan Pablo Montoya, ranked fourth because he got on track first. Third is Mark Webber (Jaguar) who is presumed to have little petrol, as well as Fernando Alonso. Rubens Barrichello says:
"The only one who really did better than me was Ralf. Virtually my time is worth the first row, the goal is the podium".
Opponents allowing: from the pole, the Spaniard suggests that the first success in his career mica would bother him. He has an exceptional starting system, if he keeps the lead of the group at the first corner nobody passes him until the pit stops. Strategies are a nice variable. There are three stops, the moment becomes crucial. Michael Schumacher may have decided to take more petrol to delay the first refueling, while Rubens Barrichello would have made the opposite choice. The same would have happened in Williams, with Ralf Schumacher who risks everything to be in contention in the World Championship and Juan Pablo Montoya prudente che pensa ad arrivare in fondo con un buon bottino di punti. Is it possible that the most whimsical driver of Formula 1 suddenly became an accountant of the wheel?
"It was enough for me to be in front of Michael, without looking for trouble. In the past I have sometimes pushed too hard, ending up making mistakes. It weighs me, it’s against my mentality, but at this point of the season, given the ranking, I have to use my head more than my foot. I would like to get to the final race of Suzuka with over ten points, otherwise I would like to play the title there".
The Colombian driver does not expect the help of the companion:
"If Ralf wants to be champion, he’s got to get real. Like me".
Ralf Schumacher makes us think, while preaching calmly:
"Yes, everyone seems to be in a great position, but if you look at the track it is not so. The track on my side is dirty and I can’t think of throwing myself from the other side. I’ll rely on launch control and hope well. The strategy? Mine is different from that of Juan Pablo. But, above all, it is better".
Luckily Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher are not unattainable:
"It will be a long race, let’s expect everything but without too many illusions".
On Sunday, August 24, 2003, at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso sprints well and keeps the lead of the race. Both Williams-Bmw drivers, who started on the dirty side of the track, started rather slowly, creating a bit of havoc in the group. In an attempt to immediately recover the lost positions, Ralf Schumacher lost control of the car at the second corner, spun and slipped to the last position. At the end of the first lap Fernando Alonso leads in front of Mark Webber, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi Räikkönen, Jarno Trulli, David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya. During the third lap Rubens Barrichello tries to overtake Mark Webber who, clearly slower than Fernando Alonso, slows down the pursuers. The Brazilian, however, made a mistake, spinning and falling back to fifth place. In the meantime Fernando Alonso gained a huge advantage, taking advantage of Mark Webber’s block on opponents, while Ralf Schumacher started his comeback from the back of the group. The situation remained stable until lap 13, when both Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso returned to the pits: the Spaniard returned to the track in second place, regaining the lead of the race when Kimi Räikkönen returned to the pits to fill up two laps later, fitting in front of Mark Webber. The Australian precedes Jarno Trulli, followed in turn by Rubens Barrichello, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher, Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard. On lap 20, in the braking of the first corner, Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari gave up the rear suspension. The Brazilian driver loses control of the car, crashing violently against the barriers without suffering physical damage. On lap 28, Ralf Schumacher, who had already beaten David Coulthard, overtook his brother. Two laps later Fernando Alonso made his second stop, returning to the track in command. Mark Webber also refuelled the next lap, while Jarno Trulli and Kimi Räikkönen pit stops on lap 32 and lap 33 respectively. Free from the Italian’s Renault, the two Williams-Bmw drivers are free to push to the maximum, both managing to keep behind the rival after the stop. But Mark Webber is between the two, blocking Ralf Schumacher behind him. Michael Schumacher, now in third position, refuelled on lap 39, but was left without petrol at the entrance to the pit lane, losing a lot of time and returning to the track in eighth place, behind Jarno Trulli.
Between the two is David Coulthard, who started with a two-stop strategy and was the last to pit during lap 43. Fernando Alonso leads ahead of Kimi Räikkönen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Webber, Ralf Schumacher, Jarno Trulli, David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher. With a clear track ahead of him, the Colombian Williams driver is clearly the fastest on the track, but his gap from the first two is too wide to reach them. Ralf Schumacher overtook Mark Webber on lap 46, but found himself far from his team-mate. The third series of pit stops did not bring changes of positions, with the exception of David Coulthard who, no longer having to refuel, surpassed Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber and climbed to fifth place. In the last laps Fernando Alonso double both Michael Schumacher and team-mate Jarno Trulli, going then to win the Hungarian Grand Prix and the first race in his career preceding the finish line to Kimi Räikkönen, Juan Pablo Montoya (author on lap 63 of a spin without consequences), Ralf Schumacher, David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli and Michael Schumacher. At Maranello they had foreseen this, even before the start of the season: it will be a very difficult year. But no one could think that it would be so hard, that we would get to the dubbing in the race of Michael Schumacher, as happened in Hungary. It is true that the German driver had a problem at the pit stop when the planned quantity of petrol did not enter. It was disappointing, however, that the World Champion did not even manage to recover the first position in the final when he had before the Renault of Jarno Trulli, slower. This means that the F2003-GA wasn’t able to be competitive. This is demonstrated by the result in its ruthless completeness: not only the two cars of the French team (which allowed Fernando Alonso a splendid victory), but also two Williams-Bmw, a McLaren-Mercedes and a Jaguar. The most significant data is still the lap time: Michael scored the eighth with 1.112 seconds from Alonso, surpassed also by Da Matta, as well as all the competitors who preceded him on the finish line, except Trulli. Ferrari (and also Bridgestone) admits a serious tyre problem. This is certainly one of the weaknesses. The superiority of Michelin is evident.
Having better tyres not only guarantees more speed, but also a faster start, the possibility of implementing elastic strategies and continuity of performance. In 2002, when Ferrari had a clear superiority in all sectors, it could, if necessary, also make up for any problems with the tyres. Now that the opponents have progressed, everything becomes more complicated. And it is not a question of inferences. Pascal Vasselon, in charge of the program of Formula 1 for the French company has explained well.
"We have prepared a method with our teams that has proved us right. We’ve collected billions of data, we control every car, lap by lap, sector by sector of every track. Also about our rivals. Then we put everything together and work on the construction and composition of the tire compounds. Long story short: when you raced on dry asphalt, excluding Brazil where it rained, these were our advantages on the lap: 0.1 seconds in Melbourne and Montreal, 0.2 in Imola, 0.3 in Austria and Great Britain. Higher in other circuits: 0.6 in Malaysia, 0.7 in Munich, 0.9 in Barcelona, 1.2 in France and the Nurbugring, 1.3 in Hockenheim. We have not yet taken over Budapest, but we believe it is similar".
In front of certain figures you understand many things: a super-powerful and reliable engine can earn a car from 0.2 to 0.4 seconds per lap, depends on the track. Then there are the other parameters, from aerodynamics to mechanics, up to electronics, to be evaluated, but the tires remain a decisive factor, as always. Not to mention that in the paddock whispers like Michelin, after having patented its own system on suspension kinematics, has proposed it to his teams. It isn’t yet known if this invention has already been developed, if it has been tested and if someone has adopted it. But there are strong suspicions for an affirmative answer. That said, what can Ferrari do? It will have to fight, commit to the end. Three races remain: Monza, Indianapolis and Suzuka. In theory, at least the last two should be in favor of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. But given the results of the most recent races any prediction could be turned upside down. At Maranello they are preparing for this challenge: engine evolution, new aerodynamic package, an impressive number of tyre tests and interventions in all sectors. At the moment, however, it is very difficult to understand what will happen. The only really positive fact for the Italian team comes from the tussle that there is at the top. Williams-Bmw wants to win the Constructors' World Championship with McLaren-Mercedes that hasn’t abandoned the dreams of glory (and Renault, which in theory could be the referee). Among the drivers Michael Schumacher still has a margin point, with two rivals able to overtake him already from the next race, in the Italian Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen, a mastiff, at this point should have no more difficulty with teammate David Coulthard and will be free to attack. Life is less easy for Juan Pablo Montoya who always has to deal with Ralf Schumacher. One thing is certain: this time it will be up to Ferrari (who can now complain about his lost points in the first three races, when he was still superior with the F2002) the task of putting Michael Schumacher in conditions not only to defend himself, but to seek a counterattack. It is however worrying what happened to Rubens Barrichello, who has lived three seconds of fear thinking of God, seeing life flowing in front of him as in a film and the protective barriers approaching more than 200 km/h.
"When I opened my eyes, everything was fine".
The Brazilian driver felt the most terrible feeling that can happen to those who are at the wheel: approaching at great speed at a bend without brakes and without the possibility of steering. The accident was caused by the rupture of the left rear suspension at the bottom of the fastest straight of the Hungaroring, the one in front of the pits, lengthened by 200 meters to increase overtaking and show.
"Too bad they sacrificed the escape route and it was up to me to prove that the circuit is no longer safe. We pointed this out to Charlie Whiting (security delegate). Now it will be clear to everyone".
It is not clear, however, why a vital piece of the car suddenly gave up. Says Jean Todt:
"An arm of the upper triangle of the suspension has broken. It is a component that we have been using for at least two years without any problem. At the moment we do not know the cause of the failure".
Poor Barrichello collects the second, traumatic consecutive withdrawal. In Germany it was Kimi Raikkonen and Ralf Schumacher who excluded him from the race, this time the car betrayed him.
"At that moment I prayed and tried to slow down, but only the front brakes worked. It is like being on a rollercoaster, knowing that it will end badly and not being able to do anything".
The front impact was impressive. The front part disintegrated, but it withstood the carbon cell that the cockpit is made of. The seat belts have restrained the pilot’s body, the collar Hans - mandatory from this year - has avoided injuries to the cervical spine.
"I was one of Hans' enemies. I take it back".
Says the Brazilian driver, who immediately after the accident threw the wheel away and remained half a minute in the cockpit.
"I was making sure I wasn’t hurt. I bit my tongue and took a blow to my finger. Then I nodded that I was fine, so my family wouldn’t worry, and I walked back to the pits. But there is one thing that upsets me: the circuit doctor did not even come to ask me how I was".
And in the meantime, Michael Schumacher cites Murphy’s law to synthesize the terrible day of Ferrari, the worst of the last four seasons, ended with his skimpy eighth place and the car to pieces of Rubens Barrichello.
"If something could go wrong, it did".
Defeat was not avoidable, disaster was. This morning he starts work to understand why a suspension has broken and why Michael Schumacher has returned to the pits without petrol. Next week the tests will resume after the summer suspension. Michael Schumacher, when was it decided his race?
"On the second pit stop. The goal was to overtake Coulthard and Trulli, but instead I lost a few seconds because in the entrance curve to the pits the petrol ran out and the engine shut down. I returned by inertia, with the gearbox in neutral".
In a sophisticated car as Formula 1, how can a such trivial problem can happen? Consuption is calculated before the race and it’s impossible to estimate how much fuel is burned and how much remains. Gasoline moves in the tank and you can’t measure with a float if the consumption in the race varies, you risk to stay dry especially if you reach the autonomy limit. Did the fact that Alonso overtake you bother you?
"No, I’ve been saying for a long time that he’s a great driver and has a winning future. Here in Budapest he had a great race. Anyway, it’s not the first time I’ve been dubbed, but luckily it happens rarely. The reason is that I got stuck by the traffic and I never managed to keep my ideal pace, while Fernando had free track. What surprises me most is the gap between his teammate Trulli: there has never been a difference lap between them in a Grand Prix".
About Trulli: Ferrari seemed faster, why couldn’t it get past him?
"Simply because he was faster coming out of the last corner, the one that leads on the pit straight, where you can overtake. I could never get close to prepare the attack".
You still believe in the world title?
"Yes, I am optimistic. Let no one be deceived. I took a good beating but the next races (Monza, Indianapolis and Suzuka, ed) are favorable to Ferrari and after some unlucky Grands Prix I think good luck will come back to smile. If your name is Schumacher you must always fight".
How do you expect to redeem yourselves?"
"We will work hard. No stop. Without commitment and effort you will not get results. Next week we will start testing ahead of the Monza Grand Prix".
What is there to improve?
"All areas of the car. We have a big test program. The whole team is motivated, this gives me hope. And let us not forget that I am still in the lead. And the struggle exalts me. The important thing is to exploit all the potential we have, and I assure you that it is a lot. Think of the Canadian Grand Prix: the Montreal circuit has similar speed characteristics to those of Monza and there we won".
Did you see the incident in Barrichello?
"Not good. I realized it had to be a suspension issue, but it’s too early to know what it was. Fortunately he remained unharmed. Too bad for his run, he was going quite well".
Even her brother’s overtaking must be weighed upon her...
"That’s not true. When Ralf passed I didn’t worry, because I knew our strategies were different. I realized that there was nothing more to do when they told me that the opponent who preceded Trulli was too far to assume a comeback".
If the final of the Drivers' World Championship will be interesting, it will be due to Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen. In Hungary the drivers of Williams-Bmw and McLaren-Mercedes have reopened the interest for the World Championship and are now separated from Michael Schumacher by a trifle: 1 point Montoya, 2 Raikkonen. Fernando Alonso clearly says that, according to him, the two of them will have the greatest chances of victory. But Juan Pablo Montoya replies:
"I really don’t know. The important thing for me today was to score more points than Schumacher and I am totally satisfied with my third place. It counts as a victory. However, on a circuit like this, I found that it is better to start from the seventh position, even from the ninth, than from the unclean part of the track. Wax so much of that dirty that I seemed to have an anchor attached to my Bmw".
In fact, Montoya immediately after the start even found himself behind Michael Schumacher.
"I was good to be patient. I waited for the pit stops to pass it. And in the end I was only careful and I won the third place that is worth as a victory".
This goal, however, risked losing when, ten laps from the end, the accountant Montoya spun.
"It was a mistake completely mine, to the point that I risked losing everything. I was lucky not to lose the position and not to be overtaken by Ralf. Now I’m waiting for Monza, where anything can happen because in my opinion on that circuit we and Ferrari are at the same level".
Compared to Montoya, Kimi Raikkonen is much more aggressive, starting from the seventh position he managed to conquer the place of honor. It is no coincidence that the head of the Williams-Bmw, Patrick Head, in the aftermath of the race expresses critical words towards his drivers:
"If you want to win the World Championship, you can’t start like we did. This is not how you win the World Championships".
The way, if anything, is that of Kimi Raikkonen. If he hadn’t found Mark Webber’s Jaguar on his way, the Finn in Budapest could have even fought for the victory.
"For me it is a very positive day, because I have significantly reduced the gap in the standings. But if I hadn’t lost all that time behind Webber things could have gone differently".
This is also why the young heir of Mika Hakkinen feels more than ever in the running for the World Championship.
"The car was fine today, and of one thing I am sure: in the last three races we will all give one hundred percent of our chances to try to win".
McLaren owner Ron Dennis is also enthusiastic about the result.
"The team put on a great performance. Both Raikkonen and Coulthard drove perfectly, the strategy turned out to be right, excellent Michelin tyres".
Finally, a radiant Flavio Briatore, who repeatedly embraces and kisses his driver on the podium, says of Fernando Alonso:
"This guy is an absolute talent, and I’m happy for him and for the whole team".
And the Spanish driver adds:
"This year we wanted to win at least one race and to succeed is important. And then, if I may, dubbing Ferrari was the greatest satisfaction of my life. But at the same time I must congratulate Michael, who on this occasion was very correct".
To applaud Alonso at the foot of the podium, but more than anything to eat him with his eyes inevitably a little 'shiny, his father, José Luis. Engineer, employed for years in a company that produces explosives, Mr Alonso today does a very different and fun job. He follows his son to the race fields. And he enjoys it.
"I have to be honest: none of us thought that the victory could come this year. The second place in Barcelona was beautiful. And if I think it all started with karts... incredible".
While the president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, admonishes his team:
"Never again. Episodes and performances like those of Hungary weekend I don’t want to see them anymore".
The president of Ferrari participates in Maranello at the usual briefing on Monday, the meeting that follows the Grand Prix. He had already intervened three weeks before. In Budapest it was worse: mistakes, a bad accident, lower performance than many, too many opponents (Renault and Jaguar, as well as Williams and McLaren). The discussion lasts three hours. Each industry manager must explain what has not worked, how he is working and where he can improve. Montezemolo uses harsh tones, he clearly says that no other distractions will be allowed, such as the error in tyre inflation pressure (Saturday qualifying, Schumacher’s car), the mistake in calculating gasoline (Michael Schumacher returned to the pits for the second pit stop with the tank empty), the breaks (the upper triangle arm of the suspension on the car of Rubens Barrichello, for reasons not yet clarified).
"And then we hope that this summer of the hot record is over".
The reference is clear: not all problems arise in Maranello. The higher the temperatures, the worse the performance of the Bridgestone tyres. In Budapest, 32 °C in the air and 44 °C in the folds of the asphalt, there has never been history: Michelin has monopolized the first seven places in the ranking.
"Each of us must be able to question ourselves and find perfection in our field of activity working with great humility and determination. At Monza I want to see the great winning pair Ferrari-Bridgestone".
With the Japanese, from 1999 to today Ferrari has won seven world titles and 45 Grand Prix. An extraordinary synchrony that almost suddenly failed: Michael Schumacher did not get on the podium from the French Grand Prix and since his last victory in Canada he has lost 17 points to Juan Pablo Montoya, who is now only one point away. At Bridgestone, Ferrari is asking for a special effort. From Tuesday 2 to Thursday 4 September 2003, in Monza, will be on track three cars engaged in a testing program that promises to be exhausting. In addition to tires and aerodynamics, will be tested an evolution of the engine that should give a few dozen horses. There is to prepare the Grand Prix that will be held in the same circuit on Sunday 14 September 20003, a prestigious race because it is held in front of the home audience and decisive for the fate of the season. The Maranello team would hardly recover from another defeat. The characteristics of the track enhance power and aerodynamic efficiency, qualities in which Ferrari (but also Williams) excels. It could result in a draw that would postpone every verdict to Indianapolis and Suzuka.
"We are at a crucial moment, on the eve of the last three races. We knew and have always repeated that continuing at the top after four years of success is very difficult, especially against very strong opponents and for a long time without success".
Technical partners, in particular tire manufacturers, are being asked to make an extraordinary effort to respond to competition and regain lost competitiveness.
"I know I can count on a team that in difficult times has always reacted without losing its head".
Unchanged confidence in the drivers:
"Michael is the best in the world and continues to be at the top of the standings; Rubens had a great race, although unfortunately he only stayed on track for twenty laps".
The overtaking of Williams-Bmw in the standings of the Constructors' World Championship, a title that the redheads have won since 1999, is also enormously annoying. Missing the points lost at the beginning of the year, when the weather conditions were more changeable and the pair Juan Pablo Montoya-Ralf Schumacher suffered because of a slow and awkward car. In the three extra-European Grands Prix that opened the season (Australia, Malaysia and Brazil) were wasted as many chances to win. In Sao Paulo the most sensational episode: Rubens Barrichello who runs out of gas when he is in the lead and Michael Schumacher who crashes, when it would have been enough to check and take advantage of the mistakes of others. Anyway it will end, it was a difficult and exciting championship: three drivers (Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen) are enclosed in the space of three points, three teams (Williams-Bmw, Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes) contend for the World Championship and three new talents have definitely nominated themselves for the succession of Michael Schumacher. In addition to the two who contend for the record, Fernando Alonso has grown a lot, who many consider the best of all and who in Hungary became the eighth winner of the 2003 season.