#567 1995 San Marino Grand Prix

2023-01-22 23:00

Array() no author 82025

#1995, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Alessia Andreoli, Translated by Francesca Zamparini,

#567 1995 San Marino Grand Prix

As everyone knows by now, Jean Alesi does not like half-measures. He flares up and then fades like a match, he rises and falls, depending on the circu


As everyone knows by now, Jean Alesi does not like half-measures. He flares up and then fades like a match, he rises and falls, depending on the circumstances, for the slightest thing. It is enough to recall a fact that occurred after the Argentine Grand Prix to explain what kind of driver he is. Ferrari is studying a decoration to embellish the boxes. There are plans for putting blow-ups of the two drivers. In the sketches, Berger looks smiley and cheerful, while Alesi looks gloomy, almost grumpy. Jean is asked: why such a gloomy image?


"It's simple, if I come back to the box pissed off, and I see myself smiling on the wall, I might get even more furious".


The Frenchman is also quite cocky and selfish, but all Formula 1 drivers are, each of them thinking they are the fastest of all time. His comment on the good race held on Sunday in Buenos Aires, when he finished P2 behind Damon Hill, therefore sounds strange. The race saw a competitive, brilliant, and reliable Ferrari. This last point should not be underestimated, considering the track record held by the cars: retirements were very frequent.


"I received many compliments, but I only did my duty. I drove the car to the limit, trying not to make any mistakes. During the pit stops, everything went fine. So, the result was the logical consequence of a series of positive elements. I had no special credit, because the 412T2 I drove at the Argentine GP was the best Ferrari I’ve ever driven on track".


Is Jean Alesi just being humble? Partly, he is. But it is also a reminder to the Maranello team. It means: if you give me a good car there is no problem, I can play my part well. Which is absolutely fair. But how can we explain the difference between the car we saw in Brazil, which was far behind Williams and Benetton, and the real fireball we saw in the second race of the World Championship?


"There are several explanations. First, we had a slightly more powerful modified engine with low torque, which was suited to this type of track. The chassis is basically good, and the set-up is easy. That's different from last year, when we spent days studying how to try not to go off track. Then it's clear that the car is suitable for slow, narrow tracks".


Does that mean you have some doubts concerning the upcoming races? 


"We can’t hide it. On Sunday morning, together with President Montezemolo and Jean Todt, we were saying to each other that we still have to gain 0.8 seconds per lap, over the fastest cars, to be competitive in all races. Honestly, it’s difficult to say whether we have made a step forward already, or it was just about the particular conditions of the race and the circuit that made us improve. Some counterevidence is needed".


The next race is in Imola, a real temple for Ferrari fans. What are the perspectives? 


"We have three weeks to work. After Easter, we will be testing at Mugello Circuit, where we will try some new parts of the car. Possibly, we will try an even more advanced engine, as well as something concerning the mechanics and aerodynamics. But the track of the San Marino Grand Prix is completely new. It’s been completely modified, which is why all the teams will have a lot to do to understand the track and fine-tune the set-up of the cars".


Has anything particularly impressed you in this first part of the World Championship?


"I would say there have been no major surprises. We knew that Williams and Benetton would be at the top. On Sunday, apparently, Schumacher had some problems with the tires. This was evident because he set the best lap time in the final part of the race. The performance of the German driver and his car also remains to be ascertained. I wouldn't take them for beaten yet, quite the opposite".


What about the others? The outsiders? 


"McLaren has had some problems, but when they get everything right, they race very well. Then of course we will see when Mansell will be on track, we don't know yet if he will drive in Imola. According to the rumours, there's 60% chance he will race, starting right from the San Marino Grand Prix. Jordan, Ligier and Tyrrell have had their ups and downs. They clearly still need some fine-tuning. But, occasionally, they have shown to have some potential. I think it's going to be an interesting championship, much more open than in the past, also for what concerns the fight for the points zone".


What can you promise to the Imola fans for the race on April 30th


"I can promise the maximum commitment from all of us at Ferrari. Positive results put us in a good mood. And if tomorrow the Court of Appeal confirms the disqualifications of the Brazil Grand Prix, keeping the rankings unchanged, we will come out on top in the World Championship, of both drivers and teams. I think that it has not happened for years. We can say that we started in the right way. The team is working well, with a good method, no rush, no risking making any mistake. Engines, for example, are used only if the reliability is guaranteed. Much more care is taken of the quality of materials. The premises are all here to dispute a great championship. And I will not stand back".


Meanwhile, the decision of the Court of Appeal is expected on Thursday, April 13th, 1995, on the appeal presented by Benetton and Williams against the disqualifications of Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard for the non-compliant petrol used during the Brazilian Grand Prix. The two teams and Elf, the supplier of the fuel, released a statement the day before. They basically admitted that it was not the fuel type-approved by the FIA, although they claimed that they were in good faith and that the petrol did not provide any advantage. It seems clear that the verdict can only confirm the sentence, and that the victory (and the points awarded) will still go to Ferrari. Unless the judges, who are completely unaffiliated with the Federation, for some reason decide differently. The fact remains that the rules are clear: using a not approved fuel, even a regular one, results in an exclusion from the race. Instead, on Thursday, April 13th, 1995, the FIA invented, or rather restored to a Solomonic type of sports justice. The Court of Appeal, meeting in Paris to judge the appeal against the disqualifications of Schumacher and Coulthard, decides to pardon the drivers and confirm the punishment to Benetton and Williams. Essentially, they restore the drivers in the rankings, but take points away from their respective teams. It is a stunning, unprecedented decision. It looks like they are making a clumsy attempt to fix things in a not-so-clean way. Let us recall what the technical regulations say about petrol, in Article 16.7:


"Before any fuel can be used during a race, a 120-litre sample must be sent to the International Automobile Federation for analysis and approval. No fuel may be used during a race without prior approval".


The facts are crystal clear. Benetton, Williams, and Elf have admitted that they used unapproved petrol in São Paulo. So, confirming the disqualification was the only thing to do. Instead, what did the judges do? They considered the human side of the matter. Schumacher and Coulthard were not guilty of this mistake, they had a good race and deserved their placements. 


On the other hand, Benetton and Williams were objectively responsible for using the wrong Elf fuel, so they were fined by taking away their points in the World Constructors' Championship. In addition, they both received a fine of $200.000, which included the $30.000 fine already imposed in Brazil. A total absurdity. Because while it is true that the two good drivers had a great race, they were still driving two irregular cars. It is not clear how the two things can be disconnected. Even allowing for the possible good faith of Benetton, Williams, and Elf (they claim that there was a mistake, i.e., that one kind of fuel was mistaken for another) the rules should have been respected. Thus, a very dangerous precedent has been set. From now on, with the excuse of a mistake, all teams will feel authorised not only to use non homologated petrol, but also to change the size of the wings, the weights of the cars, the displacement of the engines and so on. To win at least the World Drivers' Championship. It would cost a bit of money, but it is not money, clearly, that is lacking. In short, injustice is done. And, as an aside, it had never happened that Formula One made a fool of itself as in recent days. The Court decisions, among other things, cause a harsh reaction of Ferrari and Niki Lauda, advisor to the Italian team. They declare on the matter:


"After reading the operative part of the sentence, Ferrari points out that: 1) the drivers in first and second place used a different fuel in that race as compared to the one previously approved by the FIA; this constitutes an infraction of Article 16.7 of the regulations; 2) the appellants claim that the quantitative difference between the two fuels did not result in any qualitative difference and did not provide the drivers with any advantage in performance, while the experts heard during the hearing have different opinions on this matter. Ferrari notes that the statements of the Court of Appeal, together with the verdict, seem to imply that from now on a driver will be able to win in Formula 1 driving a car that doesn’t comply with the regulations".


The former Austrian champion says, unabashedly: 


"FIA is wrong. The decision basically means that an economically stronger team can race with an irregular car, pay a fine, and thus make its driver World Champion. It’s as if I, after ten years without racing in F1, looked for the richest team, had a non-compliant car built for me and won the title by making the team pay a few billions. Sportingly speaking, this means that sport in F1 is over".


Gerhard Berger, who was leading the World Drivers' Championship ranking before Michael Schumacher’s position was restored, considers strange the court's decision. It proves that one can win in F1 even in a car that is not perfectly regular. A harsh but understandable reaction: Ferrari will continue to work to win its points on track, but it was not possible to accept such an outrageous decision submissively. Nevertheless, the most important thing is always the track. On Tuesday, April 18th, 1995, in Spain, during private testing at the circuit of Jerez de la Frontera, Michael Schumacher experiences a moment of extreme fear. A failure triggers a tremendous engine fire in his Benetton-Renault. A trail of fire and smoke arises, then the German driver stops the car, throwing himself out. Luckily, there are no consequences for the World Champion, who will resume testing on Wednesday with a new engine. And on Wednesday morning, at Imola, the Dino and Enzo Ferrari circuit will be officially presented and essentially opened again. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held by Monsignor Giuseppe Fabiani, the city's bishop. After the tragic deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, one of the most famous tracks is thus back in the spotlight, ready to host the San Marino Grand Prix, the third round of the World Championship, from April 27th to 30th, 1995. The works mainly concerned the track. They started on Monday, February 13th, 1995, and involved 57.57% of the old track for a length of 2818 metres. The circuit was previously 5040 metres long, now it measures 4895 metres. Two new corners were built at Tamburello and Villeneuve (the points considered to be the most dangerous, where the fatal accidents occurred in 1994), the Acque Minerali chicane was removed, the run-off area at Rivazza was enlarged, and the turn before the Variante Bassa was eliminated, now with a new angle and more space for possible off-track runs. The work required moving 71.480 cubic metres of soil, sand, and various materials, together with 36 billion 800 million stones of an average size of 1 centimetre (one placed behind the other, they would reach the moon and even go halfway around it).


The planned cost was 9.800.000.000 liras, but since some work is still in progress, perhaps it will be higher at the end. A great challenge to make races safer from now on. As mentioned before, Formula One always remains the core, for many reasons. This time, the focus is on the quarrel between Gerhard Berger and Michael Schumacher, with insults bouncing back and forth between Austria and Germany. The main reason is Schumacher's victory in Brazil, firstly taken away from the German driver because of the fuel case and attributed to Berger, then given back to the World Champion. Schumacher, in an interview to the German magazine Bild, blames Gerhard Berger:


"I don't understand how you can celebrate a victory achieved through the disqualification of another driver. If Berger had the same talent as a driver that he shows in public relations, he would win many more races".


The Austrian driver replies quickly. 


"People lose their temper in certain situations in life. It seems to me that Schumacher is in one of those moments. Michael is a heartless, selfish man, he poured champagne in Imola after one of his colleagues had died on track".


The reference to Ayrton Senna is clear. This is Michael Schumacher's reply: 


"Berger has a bad memory. First, there was no champagne, and then the news of Senna's death came later".


Bearing this in mind, the two drivers will meet again in Imola, at the San Marino Grand Prix. The track is ready. And it seems like Ferrari is ready, too. The renewed racetrack in Romagna has been officially opened. Everything is fine: there is still some work to do but the organisers, delighted to have completed their work so quickly, say that by Thursday, April 27th, 1995, 

everything will be ready for the free practice sessions that precede the race. A lap of the track in an ordinary car with the former Swiss driver Marc Surer shows that the circuit is completely transformed by the new turns, even though it should still be quite fast. Marc Surer comments:


"I don't really like how the Villeneuve turn has been closed, for the rest everything looks perfect to me, with wide run-off paths".


Meanwhile, Jean Alesi is continuing testing at Mugello circuit. The Frenchman successfully simulates a full race, setting a time of 1'27"45 on his best lap (72 laps covered), slightly less than the time set on the 1994 car with the 3500-cc engine.


"The car is working very well. In Imola, we should use an even more powerful version of the engine, we will be able to be competitive and be among the protagonists of the race".


On Friday, April 21st, 1995, at the end of testing ahead of the San Marino Grand Prix, Gerhard Berger says:


"The four days spent here at Mugello are the first real tests of the season for us. An important appointment that allowed us to make our car even more competitive".


Once Jean Alesi finished his testing, the Austrian driver completes 42 laps, setting a top time of 1'28"5 and testing suspensions and aerodynamic solutions. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber, 1'29"8), Karl Wendlinger (Sauber, 1'30"9) and Pierluigi Martini (Minardi, 1'31"5) set slower times. A memorial to Ayrton Senna will be opened in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, April 28th, 1995. 


Made of bronze, seven metres high and weighing a ton, the work represents a helmet between two F1 circuits: it will be placed in the avenue named after Senna. Formula 1 comes to Europe after its debut in South America (Brazil and Argentina), and after the controversy caused by the absurd sentence by the FIA Court of Appeal, that confirmed Schumacher's P1 and Coulthard's P2, taking points away from Benetton and Williams teams, for using a non-approved petrol. On Sunday, April 30th, 1995, the San Marino Grand Prix will be held at the Imola track, completely renewed after the tragic events of 1994. It is a very important race because at this point the World Championship is getting into full swing and the teams are looking for confirmations, leaving surprises aside. The World Championship already has a dominant theme: Williams is the team to beat, Benetton (with Schumacher leading the ranking) is the second force and Ferrari is the rising outsider. One of the changes concerns Nigel Mansell's debut with McLaren. The Englishman, who had to withdraw from the first two races due to the cockpit of his car being too small, says - after a series of tests at Silverstone - that he is still a little rusty, and he is not at his best. The focus, however, is logically on Ferrari. It has achieved four placements in the point zone so far, the cars therefore seem reliable. Which is a good improvement compared to last year. The 412 T2 also proved to be more competitive in Buenos Aires, at least in the case of Jean Alesi, who finished second with a minimal gap to the winner, Damon Hill.


"I think this is the year for us. We know that we are at a good level and that we have a car that can be fast on all kinds of tracks. Every time we get on track, we make progress. And the tests we did last week at Mugello, the first real full test after all the work we did during the winter, confirmed these impressions".


But is this enough to aim at victory? 


"Williams remains the favourite, Benetton is always very fast, but we can still have our say. The recent results have also given the team good spirit. I believe that we will have a good race, that we will try to be the best on track and in the pit stops, the tyre changes and refuelling, which have become not only part of the show but also a decisive moment of all races".


The fact of racing at Imola, in front of Ferrari fans, can be an extra motivation, an indirect boost. But can the memory of what happened in 1994 become a psychological handicap for many drivers? 


"The cheering of fans will be extremely important for our team. For the rest, we will always remember Ratzenberger and Senna. I must admit that last year we raced with the constant fear of an accident. But ours is a risky job, and you can't drive while being afraid. Plus, the regulations have changed, and we have confidence that everything has been done to avoid dangers as much as possible. Personally, I will never forget Ayrton Senna, a champion who marked an era with his talent and personality".


In addition, the track has been completely rebuilt. 


"They did a great job in Imola. We don't know the track yet, we will only be able to make a valid judgement after Thursday's free practice. But I think all the work that’s been done has removed the dangers along the track. If anything, the uncertainty concerns the behaviour of the cars and where it will be possible to overtake with the new turns".


Is it possible to make a prediction? 


"It’s best if we make a promise: we will do our best. I have already said that for me finishing second or third would be like a defeat. We will have a more powerful engine, and I’m convinced that in Imola Ferrari will be a great protagonist".


On Wednesday, April 26th, 1995, Formula 1 returns to the Imola circuit, a year after the dark days of 1994, trying to get over it. The track has been rebuilt, trying to remove the most dangerous turns. In memory of those terrible hours, flowers have been placed where the lethal Tamburello turn was, now replaced by a kind of chicane, and some writings on the walls can also be seen. But Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna are no longer with us: this is a dangerous sport, tragedies are always lurking. People prefer to forget the tragic past, as it has always happened. Even the Williams of the Brazilian driver, which had remained for months here, locked in a garage at the disposal of the judiciary, was moved to a police building, so as not to upset people. Gerhard Berger, who had been hit hard twice, firstly by the death of a friend and a former team-mate and then by the one of a fellow countryman, says:


"Fair enough. One should not mix emotions with work. Better to concentrate on the race, we're here to race. It would be a mistake to relive those moments. For personal emotions, there’s the right time, before and after the Grand Prix".


So, let's talk about the new track.


"It’s beautiful. My congratulations to the men who worked on the circuit. They’ve worked very well because despite the changes, it has kept its own personality, it hasn't been disrupted. It's possible that today, in free practice, some little problems might come up, but they all worked in the right direction. There are also some sectors where it will be possible to overtake. It’s an interesting track".


As for Ferrari, what are the expectations? 


"I want to be optimistic, but only because in F1 anything can happen: you may even win. But to do so, everything should go well for us and badly for the others. Realistically, Williams is still the car to beat. They're very good. And they might even have taken a few steps forward after the latest tests. Then there's Benetton. Let's say, on paper, we are behind them, together with McLaren. We are improving, but it will still take some time to be at the same level as them".


In the Argentine Grand Prix, Ferrari was competitive. Is it possible that something has changed? 


"We don't know, everything needs to be tested. This year there’s one very positive thing for us. The 412T2 works perfectly, and the engine is also good. With this car, you can get good results both on a very fast track like Hockenheim or on a slow one like Monte-Carlo".


One last question to Berger: you had left Buenos Aires leading the World Drivers' and Constructors' Championships. Now the situation is different.


"Yes, I’ve lost the first position in the ranking after the decision of the Court of Appeal. It saddens me, but I must respect the sentence. After all, it's always better to score points on track, even if fairness has a value. Schumacher? I know he wants to talk to me, after the recent controversy. But this is not the moment, maybe we'll do it after the race".


On Thursday, April 27th, 1995, Ferrari will test with standard engines. The Maranello team gave it all for the San Marino Grand Prix, bringing four cars into the box instead of the usual three. Berger and Alesi will both have a backup car at their disposal. Starting from Friday, they will use the updated, slightly more powerful engines. Renault, however, has prepared even more powerful 10-cylinder engines for Williams and Benetton, i.e., with a few more HP as opposed to the first two races of the championship. And there will also be special qualifying engines. Jean Alesi is eager to race and says:


"We have something to try too, but I fear qualifying. If we were to start behind, it would be a big problem".


In the meantime, the Italian judges of the FIA Court of Appeal, Carmelo Conti, and Michele Lo Piano, are resigning from their positions. This is a protest against the decision that separated the responsibilities of the teams from those of the drivers, to uphold the appeal by Benetton and William. The President of the ACI, Alessi, announced this when speaking at the FIA meeting. For Alessi, the Court's decision sets a dangerous precedent because from now on the teams will be entitled to break the rules. Speaking of racing in Imola, Jean Alesi likes to keep his promises, if possible. On Thursday, April 27th, 1995, the Frenchman gives his all and after two hours of hard practice he sets the fastest time. Fans are understandably enthusiastic. This result, however, is not worth much formally, because it is only a test to get to know the renewed track. In fact, the real battle only starts on Friday. But when you set the best time (as had happened for two days in Argentina) it is a good sign both for the driver and the car. As such, the fact that the Frenchman is 0.367 seconds ahead of David Coulthard, (Williams-Renault, P2) is a rather significant and positive sign. After all, almost everyone is trying to do at least one fast lap to understand their own limits and those of the cars. Perhaps only Michael Schumacher has spared himself a little, playing tactics. He is currently P3, with a gap of over 1 second. Jean Alesi is very happy after covering half of the track waving to the fans, as if he had taken official pole position, and says:


"Why can't we say that we are here to win? We have the 412 T2, which is a good, solid car and an engine that works properly. We might not be able to start first on Sunday, but we can play our cards right in the race. The circuit? It's beautiful and very demanding, I really like the Acque Minerali turn. It's still difficult to understand where it will be easier to overtake, but if the car is competitive, there are no problems at all".


Jean Alesi's optimism reaches even Gerhard Berger: 


"My teammate is pushing hard, he’s very fast. At this point, we will have to secure the entire front row on Sunday. I was not able to perform at my best today because I still had a few small problems, but overall, I’m satisfied".


It depends on how the opponents will feel about it, though. On Thursday, Williams and Benetton used the latest version of the Renault engines, which are said to be very good. But above all, Damon Hill seems to have problems with the set-up of his car and Michael Schumacher seems not to be hitting the gas to the maximum. On Friday, over the course of the first qualifying session, we will see what the real situation is, when the drivers will push to the limit. The changes to the track have forced all the teams to carefully study the set-up of the cars, which is why a counter-test will be necessary. Most of the drivers find these changes good and interesting, even if there are still doubts about some sectors. Ferrari, however, has a little 'secret weapon' at its disposal, a slightly modified engine that has already been successfully tested at Mugello and will be used for the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile, F1 welcomes Nigel Mansell back, who gets a P8 in Imola, 0.7 seconds slower than his teammate Mika Häkkinen. 


And as usual he is a protagonist, for better or for worse. In the morning, he spins out and is unable to restart. The stewards push him off the grass, but Mansell remains in the middle of the track, disregarding the cars speeding past him at 200 km/h. A sort of moving chicane, very dangerous. Eventually, the race commission calls him in for a warning. And he comes out laughing:


"I wanted to keep the engine running, and I looked for the clutch pedal. I didn't remember that it was not there any more, that the clutch in McLaren is on the steering wheel. You know, it is what it is. New car, rusty driver, it's like starting over. But you'll see, it won't take long to go back to the way it was".


On Friday, April 28th, 1995, after the first qualifying session of the San Marino Grand Prix, Ferrari remains in the front row, next to Michael Schumacher, thanks to a great result by Gerhard Berger, achieved almost out of time. Indeed, he nearly takes pole position: the gap between Schumacher (Benetton-Renault) and Berger (Ferrari) is of only 0.008 seconds. Experts say that this is a gap of 38 centimetres, calculating the average lap time, and 45 centimetres when considering the instant speed at the finish line. Which is nothing. So much so that Schumacher, who is normally cool, is looking with some apprehension towards the nearby boxes. And Flavio Briatore, the astute Benetton manager, admits for the first time:


"Ferrari is quite a surprise".


But the result surprised even the very same men of the Maranello team. They were more or less expecting a P4 or P5. A correct prediction, in the case of Jean Alesi (P5). The Frenchman is behind the two Williams-Renault drivers, David Coulthard, and Damon Hill (P3 and P4 respectively). Gerhard Berger (and of course his car) made a little miracle. With two minutes to go in free practice, Gerhard still had three laps left to attempt the impossible. The Austrian driver goes on track like a fury and does a perfect lap, without a single mistake, crossing the finish line just an instant before the chequered flag is lowered. The Austrian, who was 0.2 seconds behind Michael Schumacher at the first intermediate time, completes his super lap and achieves P2, just 0.008 seconds behind Schumacher. Berger is happier than ever. He makes his lap of honour waving to the crowd of Ferrari fans, then he speaks very fast, with a big smile. It is only in the evening that he becomes irritated when he discovers that his Testarossa car has been stolen from the car park of the Imola hotel where he is staying. 


"I’m happy for me, for the team, for the fans. I’m very pleased with this result, everybody needed it. I think I did a good lap. What was the secret? I pushed hard, obviously helped by a car that is very good. We're close, I'm optimistic for the race, even though I feel a lot of pressure from the atmosphere here. It's difficult not to make mistakes. To win races you also need luck, but right now, in terms of performance, we are improving. I hope to repeat this good performance in the second practice session and especially to do well in the race".


So, are you aiming for your first victory in Imola? 


"I would be over the moon if that happened. However, if it wasn't me who came first, I would like Jean to do it. He’s still waiting for a win, and he deserves it because he’s very fast".


A message for Jean Alesi, who is rather downcast whenever his teammate is ahead of him. This is not something new, it is an individual sport. The only real comparison is between two drivers who have the same car at their disposal. One rises and the other falls.


"If I said I am happy, I would be lying. For me, being behind my team-mate is like finishing last. It’s a comfort to me that our cars are identical. So, the real limit of the car is not the one of my vehicle, but the one of Gerhard. That means I can improve. However, here it is very difficult to prepare a perfect set-up. At the Variante Bassa and Acque Minerali I had a bit of understeer. Maybe that was the reason behind the gap. Also, the cars had two different engines, and I will use the more powerful one for the second qualifying session".


Then he leaves, grumbling. Quite ordinary. Ferrari, for the record, makes it known that these are not different engines, but only minor variations of a few HP, because not all engines leave the workshop the same. The best ones are used precisely in time testing. At the most, doing a few kilometres, you can push the revs a little more. But what do engines matter? Ferrari is dreaming again, and that is the only thing that matters. Ferrari must watch out, though: on Saturday, Michael Schumacher (who did not even make use of the last two laps available, because he was sure no one would beat him...), Damon Hill and David Coulthard will be attacking. It will not be easy to maintain the front row, but anything is possible. In the meantime, Max Mosley, president of the FIA, makes it known through a press conference that he is satisfied with the work done to improve safety. Plus, in his opinion, the decision of the Brazilian stewards concerning the petrol issue should have been upheld by the Court of Appeal. The judges decided differently, considering the drivers innocent. Then, he reproaches the technicians of Elf, the French oil company involved in the affair, claiming that in the São Paulo affair they behaved childishly with all kinds of threats. But the past cannot be undone. Speaking of an important return, it must be said that time changes things and men, but it always leaves someone to tell the tale. Nigel Mansell returns to his fans, a little thinner and a little older, and with the tired smile of someone who has already seen a lot, years, as well as passions. On the track, there are flashes and flags waving. Photographers stop him in front of the McLaren truck, the mechanic in short trousers shouts:


"Be quick".


He looks at him and says: 


"I am a full-grown man, this is the reality, it is useless to cry".


Nigel Mansell strokes his moustache. In his suitcase, he brings his heart and his past. And he has a billion-dollar contract, something more than $8.000.000, in his pocket, because he is one of those drivers who are lucky enough to also get paid for his courage. Three years ago, he was earning much less. He won in Imola ahead of Patrese and Senna. But on the track where the Brazilian driver died, this time Nigel Mansell returns to race, not to win. Mansell now looks at the world from his farm on the Isle of Man, and occasionally flips through the memory diary. As fate would have it, he returns to the same place where the greatest driver of his time ended his days. Perhaps, it is no coincidence. He holds his helmet in his hand, wipes off his sweat.


"Of course, I thought about it, too. And for me, this was no ordinary day. It was difficult to regain confidence with the car, and it was even more difficult because of the emotions".


He is the witness of an era, the older brother of these guys who raise their five fingers to greet him, as Pierluigi Martini does now. Ayrton Senna did not think too highly of him. He considered him a muddler, his very opposite. Ayrton was methodical, precise. Nigel improvised. Senna had a sulky expression, while Mansell laughed. Even if also, Mansell was a little uncomfortable when he was asked about the Brazilian driver:


"He’s selfish, he only thinks to himself".


However, what they had in common was that both belonged to this world and desired to win. And loved these cars, as Ayrton's sister Viviane recalls: 


"We didn't want him to be so attached to the car, to love it to such an extent".


And as Roxane, Nigel's wife, says: 


"He returned to Formula 1 because he’s just sick for this car. His love is impossible to cure. He doesn't fear danger, and he can't see that he’s getting old".


They even came to blows, once at Spa, Mansell, and Senna, due to an unsuccessful overtake. Ezio Pirazzini, the oldest of F1 reporters, was right there:


"I saw Mansell grab Senna by the lapels, pull him up like a twig. Ayrton was driving for Lotus, Mansell was driving for Williams, both cars were equipped with Honda engines. They had to separate them because Nigel could have crushed him".


He held Senna up by the lapel with one hand and with the other prepared a punch. Mansell, called the Lion, was like that. Now that he is back, he has had to lose weight as never before, because the cockpit of the McLaren was too tight for him. There were three centimetres less than he would have needed, and it was like an ordeal, with abrasions on his elbows, his hips, his knees. They enlarged the cockpit, and he lost weight. Today, the Lion is under 75 kilos. These months, his wife looks at him like he is mad. And he always pretends that it is nothing: 


"I've been madly in love with her ever since I first saw her".


On Thursday, Nigel Mansell comes rushing into the pits, eluding the reporters. And after the first practice, he confesses:


"Something went wrong, but it was my fault: I could no longer remember where the clutch was".


This, too, is a sign that time has passed. On Friday, holding a can, he smiles: 


"It's better already".


But when asked if it had been like the first time for him, Nigel shakes his head and makes a face: 


"No, it wasn’t, because everything was different before. Different drivers, different people, different cars. I remember I was a bit scared. Of the race, not of the others".


And today?


"I like being here, it's wonderful. I feel good amid all these noises and smells, I like the crowd. I'm enjoying it as if I were a fan. Here at Imola, it's beautiful that Ferrari is ahead. I think it will be a great day for Italy, also considering what happened last year".


As for him, it is fine. Mansell, as he got older, fell in love, and lost his temper. Ayrton Senna is no longer there, Alain Prost is no longer there, and he has returned and is walking around the pits with that suitcase full of memories. He looks back, as the older ones do. Some fans brought the banners, on the track: 


"You are the one".


And he smiles.


"Looking back on it all, I’ve had a fantastic career. I’m 42 years old, and I can say that I’ve lived, struggled, suffered. And enjoyed. Perhaps with a bit more luck I could have won a few World Championships more. But I can't complain. I’ve raced with the best teams: Lotus, Williams, Ferrari. And I've won enough".


After all, it will be the 186th Grand Prix for the Lion. He achieved 32 pole positions and 31 victories, plus a World Championship title. 


"That could be enough, couldn't it?" 


And what about Sunday? 


"If I win on Sunday, it means it will snow".


While the Imola circuit, with the rebuilt track, seems set for another long period of glory, there is worrying news for the glorious Monza circuit. A delegation composed of the director of the Monza circuit, Ferrari, and technical manager Beghella-Bartoli, meets with Bernie Ecclestone, president of FOCA, in Imola, to discuss the Lombard track's future. And, while the meeting takes place, obviously behind closed doors, someone from the federal staff lets slip a joke:


"This year the Formula One World Championship won’t have seventeen races, but sixteen, as usual".


To those who think that the missing one will be the Pacific Grand Prix in Aida (in Japan, where there are difficulties linked to the recent terrible earthquake that hit the area), he replies: 


"No, the one at risk is the Monza race".


Actually, the rumours are not astounding. Ecclestone is willing to incorporate the Autodromo, as they have already done for most of the other tracks, thus becoming the organiser and, above all, the advertising manager. But old long-term contracts signed by the Autodromo of Monza makes it impossible to come to an agreement with Ecclestone. In addition, the work planned for the circuit keeps on progressing slowly: a project for the required upgrades to the track has just been submitted. 


Then, the usual pragmatic, bureaucratic and political problems will arise. Back to Imola, on Saturday, April 29th, 1995, at the end of the free practice, the fans wonder: what if it turns out to be the right time? Logic and predictions say that Ferrari is not yet ready to win, that Williams and Benetton are still a little bit stronger. But the gap is so small that there may indeed be a chance to beat them. The game is tricky and difficult: it would be possible to win only if everything went smoothly for Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi, while something should go wrong for the rivals. A small thing would be enough: a slow pit-stop, an overtake costing them precious time. It could mean a win for Ferrari. There is enough to dream, for the 100,000 fans who will come to the Imola circuit for the historic San Marino Grand Prix. Ferrari has won this race in the old days, with Didier Pironi and Patrick Tambay, in 1982 and 1983 respectively. Hope is not a taboo. Nevertheless, one should be realistic, too. There are at least three obstacles in the way of Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi. They are named Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, and David Coulthard. One of them is driving for Benetton and the other two for Williams. The German driver is convinced that he can already create a gap in the ranking. Despite Michael Schumacher saying that Williams and Ferrari are very close, and that the race will be difficult, he thinks he has a fair advantage, if not with the car, certainly thanks to his foot and remarkable talent. Also, starting on pole position has its importance because overtaking is now difficult on this circuit. Michael makes a simple point:


"In the first two races of the season, Benetton was a bit slower than the other cars, and, despite this, I won one race: now I'm already starting on pole position".


Meaning that it will be hard to beat him. Damon Hill and David Coulthard, however, are also confident. 


"We still have the best chassis-engine combination".


And they have a point: in race conditions, if there were no difficulties, Williams should have a lead of around 0.5 seconds per lap. The Ferrari team, for that matter, is also asking to stay calm. Everyone talks about a hypothetical chance of victory, but no one feels like making too favourable predictions. Jean Todt says that the progress Ferrari made has been confirmed and says it should be a balanced race. Gerhard Berger thinks Ferrari is already at an excellent level, but still a little less than the strongest teams. Jean Alesi is still optimistic, even though he is starting P5. As for the starting grid, in the second qualifying session, nothing changed in the top positions. The sunny weather and the high temperature made the track slower, and any attempt to improve was in vain. Only nine drivers improved their times compared to Friday, but they were mostly those who had spared energy. Aguri Suzuki and Roberto Moreno are the only drivers to gain a position at the back of the grid. So, Michael Schumacher keeps pole position, the seventh of his career and his first one of the season. And he is also the fastest driver of the day (1'27"413, just 0.15 seconds slower than his track record). In the morning, during free practice, the German driver also hits a wall and loses his right front wheel, fortunately without any other damage. Gerhard Berger thus remains on the front row, ahead of David Coulthard (P3), Damon Hill (P4) and Jean Ales (P5). As mentioned, pit stops (i.e., tyre changes and refuelling) and strategy will be decisive. Unfortunately, this is common in F1, but we must say that it is now part of the show. And speaking of fuel, Luciano Benetton answers a few questions about recent events:


"Team managers should talk privately and not make controversies publicly because in this way they contribute to create a very bad image. The regulations are open to different interpretations. They must be changed. It's like voting in Italy: nothing is explained about the ballots, which are complicated, and then they complain because thousands of them are spoiled. I saw a banner here that said: Schumacher, go to Indy. If he did, F1 would be much worse. There are problems with Ferrari. I think too many people are talking, drivers, ex-drivers, everyone. There should be just one official spokesman. To use a metaphor, when you throw stones in different directions, you risk missing the target, and you create a lot of confusion".


Not far away, Gerhard Berger is also speaking to the press, but unlike the Italian businessman, he is talking about the practice that has just finished:


"I’m very happy".




"Yes, happy. For my performance yesterday".




"Yes, my performance yesterday. Today, I didn't need that any more".


At 1:55 p.m., Stefano Tagliaferri, a fan from Terni, is running on the grass of the Tosa turn waving the red flag under the sun. He has spent 45,000 liras for the general admission ticket, arrived here at 7:00 a.m. and left his grey Fiat Uno far from the circuit. That is all right. For the Ferrari fans, these are days to celebrate. Ten minutes later, Gerhard Berger is already amongst the journalists, right after practice. 


"I know, it's a big mess here. Everyone is happy if we do well".


And what about Alesi? 


"He's good, he's talented. But he and I are different. He’s always pushing, I’m not. I do a lot of studying, I carefully prepare the races".


Jean, on the other hand, avoids the journalists at the beginning. He passes in the middle and runs off.


"I have nothing to say".


Lauda explains that he is angry because it was crucial to start from the front, and he did not manage to achieve that. Then, Alesi re-emerges with his checked shirt and a hat on his head. 


"There are two Ferrari drivers. If I finish second, it's the same as finishing last".


Right, isn't it? 


"But I’m happy for Ferrari and for Berger".


He is not that happy for himself, though. Alesi looks up at the people crowded on the balconies, at all the flags on the grandstands. There is also a banner with the Ferrari emblem that says: 


"Briatore shame on you".


On Friday night, the crowd did not let the Benetton manager sleep. There was a crowd of people under the hotel singing and shouting:


"Give us back the points, Briatore give us back the points".


This is the home of Ferrari. Still, not everyone is celebrating. Alesi is still sulky as he waves to the crowd: 


"The 'Ferrari fever' is back, but my situation is difficult. I can’t say that I will not win the Grand Prix. It’s possible that I will make a great start and manage it. But I'm a sad man today".


Better not to ask him about Gerhard Berger. He has a dark face when he says: 


"Good thing he's here".


On Friday night, as if that were not enough, his Ferrari, a silver F355 saloon car, was stolen from his hotel's garage. The thief waited patiently for someone to come in and open the gate. At 2:00 p.m. Gianfranco Mazzoni, a RAI journalist, arrived, opened the gate and the thief escaped. A few hours earlier, the same happened to Berger: even in misfortune, the two drivers are united. Gerhard was chatting peacefully beside his Ferrari, a 512M, on the forecourt of the hotel, named ‘Mulino Rosso’.


"I saw someone getting into my car. I thought, he wants to park it better. Then the guy did a sharp reverse and I realised that maybe he wasn't just parking it. I tried to run after him, but how do you keep up with a Ferrari? Now he must have parked it who knows where".


But he is so happy for his result that he jokes about it. Jean Alesi, on the other hand, does not feel too much like joking. He puts an unhappy face on even with the French journalists, talking about the race and repeating with regret that:


"There's some hope, but it's really difficult to think of a victory. I don't want to say it's impossible, but it's hard, really hard, because it’s not easy to overtake on this track".


All around, along the track, the crowd seems far from these problems: 200,000 fans came here in three days. These numbers represent a huge passion. The engines roar and the people go crazy. It is like a fever that can even make people forget Ayrton Senna for a moment. This is what Lisetta Balestri confesses, she has been the owner of the stall at the Tamburello turn for 15 years now, the turn where the Brazilian driver lost his life just a year before: 


"Here, they only ask for Ferrari stuff now".


Death far away, tragedy far away. And it hardly makes an impression on anyone that at 9:30 a.m., the public prosecutor, Maurizio Passarmi, shows up at the circuit with a big folder under his arm and two policemen behind him, to go and hear Bernie Ecclestone and some FOCA technicians. The journalists do not pay too much attention. They stand around Jean Todt and bombard him with questions. Who is the favourite in your opinion? 


"My heart says it will be a Ferrari driver".


Which one? 


"The one with number twenty-seven or the one with number twenty-eight, I have no preferences".


On Sunday, April 30th, 1995, before the start of the San Marino Grand Prix, all the drivers gather in a circle in front of the finish line and observe a minute of silence in honour of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, who died here last year. The race begins with an uncertain weather, which makes it difficult to work out set-ups and strategies. At the beginning, it seems that it will be dry, but the first six drivers on the grid (plus Barrichello, in P10) choose rain tyres, a choice that will prove to be correct. At the start, Michael Schumacher maintains the lead of the race and Gerhard Berger remains in P2, keeping all the other drivers behind. The gap between the wet and the dry tyres is incredible: a 5 seconds per lap advantage for those equipped with wet tyres. This allows the drivers in the top positions to create such an advantage that they can return to the box unconcerned about their rivals. On lap 10, however, Michael Schumacher, the race leader, makes a huge mistake at the Piratella turn and violently crashes his car into the barriers. The German driver thus clears the way for Gerhard Berger. The Ferrari fans in Imola are cheering, thinking that Ferrari can get a one-two. In the meantime, the other driver of the Maranello team, Jean Alesi, perfectly exploits the slippery asphalt to do a series of fast laps that will lead him to chase Damon Hill and David Coulthard. The fight between the Frenchman and the two Williams drivers ends up in a collision between the Ferrari number #27 of Alesi and the Williams-Renault number #6, where the English car has the worst of it (with slight damage to the front wing, which they do not repair). During the pit-stop, the wing will indeed not be replaced, but it is precisely the pit-stop that will play a nasty trick on the Scottish driver. He has entered the box together with Jean Alesi, and consequently he is willing to complete the pit-stop before the French driver. But this will lead him to exceed the 80 km/h speed limit imposed for the pit-lane passing: a penalty is expected for him. Shortly after, Gerhard Berger also makes his pit-stop, but he inexplicably switches off the engine. The Austrian notices it immediately, raises his index finger to ask for a restart, and urges the mechanics to use the engine starter. 


The mechanics succeed, but in the meantime Damon Hill and David Coulthard (the two Williams-Renault drivers) and his team-mate Jean Alesi pass the finish line. The Austrian returns to the track in P4, but manages to move back up to P3, after David Coulthard makes a stop and go. All the other drivers are lapped; Mika Häkkinen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen finish in the points zone. There was also a collision between Eddie Irvine and Nigel Mansell on lap 44, which forced both drivers to make an extra pit-stop and prevented them from scoring points. Rubens Barrichello, who could have fought for P5, was forced to retire - on lap 31 - due to a transmission problem. As it had already happened in Argentina, Pedro Paulo Diniz and Roberto Moreno (both Forte cars) were not classified, having reached the finish line seven laps later than the winner and thus not having completed the 90% of the total distance. So, Damon Hill wins, followed by the two Ferraris, Jean Alesi, and Gerhard Berger. Next come Hills' team-mate Coulthard (Williams-Renault), Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber-Ford). Ferrari's chance for victory is still postponed. But the Maranello cars are improving race after race, and success seems to be always closer. In an exciting and spectacular San Marino Grand Prix that recalled old times, Jean Alesi (which did a really sensational race) and Gerhard Berger took the podium. The Frenchman finished second, the Austrian third, behind Damon Hill. Williams maintained a small advantage and the Englishman, with a perfect performance, exploited it to take his second win of the season, and consequently the first place in the World Championship. A fully deserved result for the 34-year-old London-born child of artists. He is showing more and more clearness of mind and skills from time to time, together with a remarkable fairness, which is not something to underestimate. This time, Hill also benefited from the fact that Michael Schumacher did not get any points. The German went off the track on lap 11, something totally unexpected. He had just changed tyres, and perhaps the new ones were not yet up to temperature. So, he forced the pace too much, also given that his Benetton seemed unstable in certain conditions. 


And he paid for his mistake with a crash. The World Champion also had a big scare because his car, at full speed, hit a wall at Piratella turn after several spins, and lost two wheels. Schumacher had to go to the medical centre for a check-up, and the doctors dismissed him with a three-day prognosis for straining his right latero-cervical muscles. When the accident occurred, after leading the first nine laps, Michael was third. Coulthard and Berger were ahead of him. Immediately afterwards, during the first pit stops, the Austrian took the lead. And here the true value of this Ferrari can be seen. The 412 T2s are certainly the most balanced cars. So much so that Gerhard Berger, on a track that was still damp (it had rained in the morning), was able to keep up with Schumacher, also setting the best time in the race. Jean Alesi, who was behind, had been overtaken at the start by Häkkinen, and then he immediately took the position again. He could theoretically have overtaken David Coulthard and Damon Hill, who were ahead of him, but the characteristics of the track, and the endurance shown especially by the Scot driver, made all his attempts vain. When the situation normalised, however, it became clear that for Ferrari the victory would also depend on Damon Hill's mistakes and other favourable circumstances. But Damon and his team were careful not to make the slightest mistake. The main difference - needless to hide it - is still in the engine. This year, the Maranello team focused on reliability at the start of the season. And the numbers prove it right: they achieved a P3 and a P5 in Brazil, a P2 and a P6 in Argentina, plus the podium finishes in Imola. That makes six times in the top six positions, better than all the other teams. The prize is the first place in the Constructors' World Championship, equal with Williams-Renault, which has also won two races. 


Furthermore, Alesi is second in the World Championship standings, six points behind Damon Hill and on a par with Michael Schumacher. Progress has already been made and Ferrari's engineers are working on an engine development programme that, in a short time, should close the gap in power and acceleration. Back to the track, with the #1 Benetton out of the race, Berger led the race until lap 21. But he made a mistake during his second pit-stop and lost positions. The first pit-stop to put on slick tyres had been done at the right time, a perfect move by the team. But Gerhard made a mistake with the clutch and let the engine turn off. This is because he was using the pedal clutch again for the first time instead of the steering wheel lever, he had instead used in the first two races. The Austrian driver lost forty seconds and his result was ruined. Shortly after, David Coulthard blocked the way for Jean Alesi who was desperately trying to overtake him. The two cars collided and a steering tie rod on the Ferrari was slightly bent. But both Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger confirmed that they could not have won anyway. David Coulthard later paid for his impulsiveness, being forced to make a 10-second pit-stop for exceeding the 80 km/h speed limit during his second pit-stop. So, while Damon Hill drove to victory, Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger took their places on the podium without too many problems, while David Coulthard himself was ahead of Mika Häkkinen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the points zone. So, the championship is expected to be really exciting. And thanks to the safety measures taken, it will be less dangerous in case of an accident.


"I’m happy to be the winner, not for the points nor for the glory. But because one year after experiencing, right here, in this circuit, one of the worst moments of my life, I can dedicate this success to Senna, the best driver of all time. I believe we had a good race, and that Ayrton would have liked it".


Damon Hill, weighing his words carefully, wants to remember the Brazilian champion who died in 1994. He is a little underrated, at the beginning he was only considered as the son of Graham Hill, who arrived in F1 at a rather advanced age and in a minor role. But Damon managed to prove his value. His analysis of what happened was also careful and precise:


"In this race, it was crucial to be wise. I think I drove well, I was able to stay in the lead and keep the car under control, as I’ve always done this year".


For Damon Hill, this is victory number 11 in his career, out of 37 races disputed. An exceptional score, that certainly makes him one of the best of all time. On the other hand, Michael Schumacher had a bad day, partly due to an inaccuracy. Michael, before leaving, leaves some doubt about the cause of the accident, though. 


"The start was good, I had Berger's Ferrari under control, although there were some difficulties due to the traffic, there were some lapped drivers. After the tyre change, I felt that the rear of the car was a bit unstable. It’s not clear to me why I went off track on the straight. We will look at the telemetry data to find out. All I know is that I was very fast at that point, and that I could have really hurt myself. All in all, I am fine".


Benetton is not releasing any statement to clarify whether some fault was discovered on the car. But it is very likely that on this occasion Michael was overly presumptuous. He did not intend to lose ground to Gerhard Berger and David Coulthard, who were chasing, and this can be easily understood. After his fight with Jean Alesi, Coulthard prefers not to speak officially on the matter again: 


"Considering that I had a spin, I had to change the nose of the car, and I had a penalty, I can't complain about fourth place".


Damon Hill stands in the middle, and the two Ferrari drivers are on either side of him, although they are curiously looking a bit saddened. That is strange. Outside, people are shouting, singing, dancing. Claudio Costa, the racetrack announcer, accompanies the applause of the crowd:


"Long live Ferrari, long live Ferrari".


Alesi and Berger do not smile. Berger is angry about that overlong pit-stop, of the duration of 40 seconds:


"I had a problem with the clutch. In the other races I had it on the steering wheel, here instead it was on the pedal, and the pedal was very stiff. I couldn't keep the engine running, a real misfortune".


Jean Alesi is angry with Coulthard, and with the world, for that matter. The Englishman blocked his way:


"He was zigzagging, like he was drunk".


And the world took a dream from him. Now, he is in the middle of the crowd, with broadcasters, fans, friends. Jean Todt holds him tight with a hand on his shoulder. 


"That's good, isn't it?"


That's good, that's good, says the French driver. But Jean Alesi wants to look grumpy even when he smiles, and when the reporters push, block, and surround him, he gets even darker. How is it going with Coulthard? 


"Coulthard needs to learn some good manners because you don't do that shit".


Then Alesi goes to the press conference and explains:


"Coulthard was very unfair, everyone saw it. At the Rivazza turn, he zigzagged and prevented me from overtaking. Then, as I was trying to pass, he hit my left front wheel, and I had problems with the steering wheel".


Congratulations, though, it was a good fight, really exciting. 


"It must have been nice for the fans, but not for me. The man behaved very badly, let me repeat it".


Did Coulthard disadvantage you more than the lapped drivers?


"Yes, he did".


But then, in front of the cameras, he blames something else. What is the reason for this second place? 


"My position on the starting grid".


However, every time you race here in Italy, you get the best out of yourself. 


"I think I fought, but it wasn't enough. Here in Italy, it’s special, in other places you have to talk to the box to know your position. Here you see people pushing you, you just have to look up anywhere in the circuit to know how you are doing. And it's fantastic".


Berger agrees.


"Yes, it's wonderful here. But I don't think Ferrari would have won if Hill didn’t end up in the grass".


After a while, David Coulthard also arrives, smiling, and walks towards the Ferrari bus. Who are you looking for? 


"I’m looking for Alesi".


He gets in, locks himself in for a few minutes, talks to the French driver, and when he gets out, he has lost his smile. Jean is not convinced, although he seems less angry now.


"He's a boy, he's too young".


Jean Todt always keeps his hand on his shoulder. 


"It takes patience, in a while we'll all be happier".


In how long? 


"In two months".


Berger promises. And who is going to win?


"One time Alesi and one time me".


Nigel Mansell had quite a scare today. It was not on lap 44, when his McLaren collided with the Jordan driven by Eddie Irvine. Actually, it was after the race, when the Englishman was rushing back to the box and the crowd was invading the track, the fans practically surrounded him. One fan, probably with the only good intentions to stop him and touch him, grabbed him by the arm. But the Lion felt he was in danger and punched the unfortunate man in the shoulder to wriggle out from him. Then, the driver rushed into the garage, while the mechanics quickly lowered the shutter to avoid that something worse could happen.


"I had a bad time, I’m happy and at the same time sorry for my race. It would have been easy to go for points. I was in P5 when the collision with Irvine happened and I had to return to the box, so I lost my position. But I don't want to blame anyone. I have nothing to feel guilty of, and all in all I feel quite satisfied. I drove well, I set good times. It was good training after a long period of inactivity. You will hear more about me in the future".


Someone who caused a lot of discussion was Pierluigi Martini. The Minardi driver was seen making gestures on the track at Damon Hill and Jean Alesi, who apparently accused him of impeding them since he was lapped. 


"I race trying to keep my position, I’m not willing to give way to cars that have 150 horsepower more than mine. Some people need to learn to suffer a bit more".


The reaction of the Italian driver, who is certainly not having an easy time, can be understood. But he was four laps behind, and the others were fighting for the victory. A competitor for the victory should not be forced out of line, out of the way, to leave pace. The rules of behaviour on the track, however, speak very clearly: in such cases it is better for everyone to step aside. Finally, let us mention a curious fact: for the first time, a representative of the government of the People's Republic of China has attended an F1 Grand Prix. In fact, the Chinese Ambassador to Italy, Wu Ming Lian, is present in Imola. 


"About the future, we may consider bringing F1 to China, but it will only be possible when the Chinese car industry is developed".


©​ 2024 Osservatore Sportivo


Contact us


Create Website with | Free and Easy Website Builder