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#719 2004 Monaco Grand Prix

2022-02-19 23:00

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#2004, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Francesca Risi,

#719 2004 Monaco Grand Prix

The Monaco circuit has a new look, and with it the Ferrari. An epochal change for the Principality and its Formula 1 Grand Prix: the pit lane, now wid

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The Monaco circuit has a new look, and with it the Ferrari. An epochal change for the Principality and its Formula 1 Grand Prix: the pit lane, now wider, has been modified, real pits have been built, fifteen meters long, completely removable. The asphalt is new, nice dark and rough. It could also create surprises. All these innovations will play an important role in the race, as strategies may need to be reviewed. In the past in Monte-Carlo it was better to stop at the pits only once, now there will be the opportunity to make more stops. The speed limit in the pit lane was raised from 60 km/h to 100 km/h. Scuderia Ferrari prepared well, as usual. The F2004 have a very special aerodynamic livery. Apart from the adaptations of the ailerons for the slow track and the reinforced suspensions to face the jumps on the curbs, the technicians of the Maranello team study showy solutions. These are the so-called chimneys that serve to dispose of the air that enters the car’s bellies. They are oblique, with a considerable size and have a double purpose: to improve cooling, acting as well as fins, so as to increase the air pressure and therefore the seal. Michael Schumacher, at the helm of the Monaco Grand Prix, said:

 

"The pit lane is much improved, a step forward has been made to review the racing tactics. The new car is the result of a fantastic work we have been doing since the beginning of the year. I am very confident but also aware that Sunday will be the most difficult test of the championship".

 

In fact, there are many opponents who aim to interrupt the positive series of the World Champion, from BAR drivers, to those of Renault and Williams. Even McLaren, which had good tests at Paul Ricard, seems to be a bit more optimistic. Rubens Barrichello, for himself, is optimistic. 

 

"Sunday I turn 32. I have the whole family here, I hope to toast for the birthday and maybe for a victory. I don’t feel pressure: it’s all about Michael, also because someone says he has to win eighteen out of eighteen races. I think it will be impossible". 

 

Of course, especially here, it will not be easy to make the sestina for Schumi. Also Luca Montezemolo is prudent: 

 

"As always I see the Monaco Grand Prix as a roulette wheel, anything can happen. It is a race full of charm but the difficulties to overtake make unpredictable any prediction". 

 

The only thing certain is the presence of a large number of VIPs: the Jaguar will have the front bonnet red to advertise the film Ocean 12. From Cannes are announced Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts and other movie stars.  They change cars and circuit, but finding one that beats Michael Schumacher is more difficult than spending little in Monte-Carlo. To see the expected victory of the German Scuderia Ferrari driver, an average of 200 euros is paid for the ticket and 1500 for a night at the hotel. It is the charm of the Principality and of the only Grand Prix in the world where, in the evening, after the test or qualifying sessions, any person can drive on the race track. Where there are no escape routes but guardrails that are mounted for Formula 1 and disassembled the next day. Where only motoring historians remember the last overtaking. Where every year the organizers of the French Automobile Club manage to invent spaces and the masterpiece is the new pit lane, which looks real. Where, perhaps, they will show us the most difficult race for the Invincible. In fact there is a little problem in Ferrari. My God, given Michael Schumacher’s fastest time and Rubens Barrichello’s third, scored Thursday, May 20, 2004, these are details in the face of competition delays. 

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The BAR is confirmed as the best challenger: too bad that his fittest driver is a test driver, Anthony Davidson, who with the second half concludes the work of the weekend. Jarno Trulli, fourth, confirms to love the Monaco track, but the gap from Michael Schumacher is 0.7 seconds. Kimi Raikkonen, fifth, seems to be growing, but he covered half of the laps compared to opponents to save a mechanic that this year forced him to retire already six times. Then Jenson Button with the first official BAR, late Williams: tenth Juan Pablo Montoya, only twelfth Ralf Schumacher, who breaks a motor and, in any case in qualifying, will lose ten places on the grid. The problem of the Maranello cars is related to the durability of the tires. After a lap the performance collapses. Michael Schumacher scored a time of 1'14"741 on the first lap. Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella noticed this, saying: 

 

"Beware, the Ferrari is very fast but the Bridgestones don’t last. In the race they could cause problems".

 

Scuderia Ferrari Technical Director Ross Brawn admits: 

 

"Track conditions are constantly changing. The question is whether to mount a more aggressive tire that degrades quickly or make a conservative choice". 

 

But you can even make three stops, since the speed in the pit lane has been increased from 60 to 80 km/h. Michael Schumacher says:

 

"Monte-Carlo is the most significant challenge for a driver. I am not surprised by our performance, we need to understand where others are at. The tires? They work great". 

 

Ferrari of last year was conservative and got a third place with Michael Schumacher, behind Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen, and a seventh with Barrichello. The experience of the 2003 season has taught a lot to the men of the Maranello team. Michael Schumacher pursued the sixth consecutive victory, which would allow him to overtake Nigel Mansell (five wins in a row in early 1992) and Ayrton Senna (five first places in the Principality). Ross Brawn calls him the perfect driver: 

 

"Senna and Prost, with their duels, pushed each other. Michael had to do it himself, because Rubens stimulates him only at times". 

 

Jarno Trulli is running for the role of troublemaker: 

 

"Pole position is on the line too. Then I want to see who can overtake me. My Renault? I managed to get it right, I’m satisfied. At first I felt like riding a horse and I caressed a wall". 

 

At Williams we think above all about the future. With the two drivers starting (Juan Pablo Montoya at McLaren, Ralf Schumacher probably at Toyota) the race for the succession is open. The last entry announces the return of Jacques Villeneuve to Formula 1. But Technical Director Patrick Head dismisses the media hypothesis with a joke:

 

"We could take Mansell, after all he never announced his retirement".

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While in private he says that Ralf Schumacher is no longer the same since September last year, when he went off track during a test session in Monza for the break of a suspension. 

 

"Some of our past drivers like Piquet and Boutsen have taken six to nine months to recover from serious accidents". 

 

There is also talk of Formula boredom but the revolution, according to Max Mosley, which will have to bring back again show will be about engines, chassis and rules. The President of the Federation presents himself on Friday, May 21, 2004 in the Principality to present his plan. On the Friday of the Monaco Grand Prix the engines are silent. The free practice is brought forward to Thursday, a trick that holds one more day thousands of people enjoying the sun, the sea, the view of sumptuous yachts, two steps between the shameless wealth to which they contribute in their small settling the bills of restaurants, hotels, shops. Mosley explains that Formula 1 must spend less and have more fun: 

 

"But if Ferrari left the races, it would be a tragedy for us". 

 

The British lawyer proposes to abolish aerospace materials, to build engines that last six races, to abolish tests that cost 1,000 euros per kilometer, to adopt a single brand of tires: so you save. Then he asks to reduce the importance of aerodynamics, to abolish electronics and to change this format of qualifying that nobody likes: so we will find the excitement of pole position and overtaking in the race. The timing? It depends on the protagonists: if everyone agrees, it is done immediately; if nobody agrees, we proceed in 2008 to the deadline of the Covenant of Concord; if only the majority says yes, it starts from 2006. Of course some reforms will be easy, others will require complex negotiations. For example, the only tyre supplier: Michelin and Bridgestone don’t even want to hear about it. On the qualifying mechanism, on the contrary, it seems easier to reach unanimity. Mosley is liberal: an hour on the track against everyone. 

 

"And those who are facing a fast lap should turn on a light, so viewers understand that it is pulling to the maximum, while others maybe at that time they are slowing down to return to the pits". 

 

But, adds Mosley:

 

"This is just my point of view, I don’t think it’s easy to convince the teams". 

 

Another proposal that in the last days is mostly inspired by the World Championship: two sessions of practice, but with the sum of time. Pending an agreement, we proceed with the usual system. On Saturday Michael Schumacher starts and the others start, one at a time according to the order of arrival of the Spanish Grand Prix. The fastest will start last in the session that counts, the one that starts at 2:00 p.m. and assigns the pole position. Extreme strategies are announced to start as far ahead as possible, as there is no room for overtaking in this street circuit. And the choice of tyres will be decisive: the very soft tyres that allowed Ferrari to fly degrade very quickly. Hence the prudence of Michael Schumacher, who still pursues new records. The German driver is still far from the record of appearances of Riccardo Patrese: the Paduan driver was 256 times at the start of a Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher only 200. If the World Champion were to retire at the end of 2006, he would be able to overtake Alesi (201), Piquet (204), De Cesaris (208) and Berger (210). But not Riccardo Patrese, who jokes about: 

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"I am willing to rent a Formula 1 to defend my record". 

 

In the meantime the drivers took advantage of the free day to relax at the sea or stress with the sponsors. Abandoned for a day the degrees of general manager of Ferrari, Jean Todt meets, as ambassador of San Marino, three associations that deal with childcare and the disabled of adulthood.  Ended the day of relaxation, Saturday 22 May 2004, surprise, Michael Schumacher fatigue like a normal driver. This time the Martian is Jarno Trulli: in Monte-Carlo, on the most complicated, absurd and fascinating circuit of Formula 1, no Italian had ever conquered pole position. Even he, for that matter, had never been the fastest on Saturday. He can now, with a perfect lap. Track records and distant opponents: Ralf Schumacher to 0.3 seconds, but relegated to twelfth position because on Friday he broke the engine; Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso to 0.4 seconds; Michael Schumacher to 0.5 seconds. Only a miracle could allow the German Scuderia Ferrari driver to recover and lengthen the series of consecutive successes. Jarno Trulli at the start is unbeatable. In Barcelona it seemed that the traffic light had turned him off by letting go of the clutch so fast that the shot allowed him to pass in the head. 

 

"He will not dare to risk the false start".

 

It says Schumacher. 

 

"No need. I have no one in front". 

 

Jarno Trulli answers. The challenge will be played on the edge of strategies. The Monaco Grand Prix will not be the usual red Ferrari monochrome. Michael Schumacher’s car suffers from a dirty track during pre-qualifying and a slippery track in the qualifying lap. 

 

"Recovery? It will be hard, but rest assured that I will try". 

 

Otherwise he will settle for five or six points, which in his ranking position would allow him to continue the race towards the seventh world title. The only chance to gain positions is to stick to the first and make the refueling later. Rubens Barrichello, sixth, believes: 

 

"Our tyres are amazing in the race. If I find the track free for a few laps, I can win". 

 

Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso are also struggling. Italian cheering is divided: right to support the single or the team? Ferrari usually prevails. In 1983 in Imola, Riccardo Patrese was applauded after an accident that gave the victory to the Ferrari driver Patrick Tambay. Now the abundance of victories leads to cheering against at least for a day. The last Italian in pole position was Giancarlo Fisichella in the 1998 Austrian Grand Prix with Benetton, while Riccardo Patrese (on Brabham) in 1982 was the only driver to play Mameli’s anthem in the Principality. Jarno Trulli has the chance of life. In Monte-Carlo you don’t pass, but beware: a mistake is fatal. For the last four years, the driver in pole position has failed to win. It’s a matter of centimeters and the guardrail can tear a suspension. Then there are the famous strategies: how much petrol does Renault have? 

 

"So much. I never thought I’d go so fast anyway". 

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Juries Jarno Trulli, who has always had little luck in his career. So much so that at the end of qualifying the Italian driver risks losing his life in an accident: the mono volume that accompanies him to the press center collides with a car of the organizers at the Rascasse curve. In Monte-Carlo there’s dad Enzo cheering, while mom Franca and girlfriend Barbara stayed in Pescara. He was the one who gave him the passion for engines. Among the many variables that count in Formula 1 (chassis, engine, aerodynamics, electronics, tyres), in the Principality two fundamental ones are added: factors here more important than elsewhere. The first is the ability of the cars to pass on the curbs without skidding too much and without breaking anything, the second is linked to the courage and skill of the driver. Jamo Trulli had everything on his side and was the best. Those who tried to beat him had to settle for a placement behind the Italian driver, including his teammate, Fernando Alonso, who does not always manage to be a phenomenon, as many claim. In fact the Spaniard is not only on equal points with the Italian, but in six qualifying sessions so far played was four times slower. The city circuit of Monaco, although always improved over the years, is very demanding in terms of traction and suspension. The motorists do everything possible to obtain the greatest possible elasticity to the engines, the technicians reinforce the arms that hold the wheels and ensure the road holding. Working of springs and shock absorbers, trying to soften the response when the car cuts straight on the bumps of the asphalt. The secret of an excellent performance can also be this. Said by Michael Schumacher, it must also be said that Rubens Barrichello confirms that he does not love this kind of track too much and in any case from the beginning of the season he has often suffered quite showy detachments from his teammate. Certainly Jarno Trulli’s Renault, which the French team technicians have once again modified by taking a step back (reinforcement between chassis and engine as last year and front wing very similar to that of 2003) has proved to be at ease on curbs, manholes and bumps; A remarkable road holding, accompanied by the skill of the driver who never forgets his origins with karts. 

 

The first step is done. But let’s get to the race. Considering the fast starts of Jarno, but he will have to deal with Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, it is possible to predict that the first three will try to escape, to detach the Ferraris. So everything will play presumably on the strategies: who has guessed the right tires, how much fuel they have in the tanks the cars of the first rows, how many laps before they stop. The game is all here. Except surprises, such as the appearance of rain, not announced but not even denied. If everything happens as usual, since overtaking is almost always a mirage, they will count pit stops. Sunday, May 23, 2004, the start of the Monaco Grand Prix must be repeated due to the failure of Olivier Panis' Toyota to leave the grid at the start of the formation lap. The French driver is able to start the car again only thanks to the help of the mechanics, then starting from the pit lane. As a result, the race was shortened by a lap. Jarno Trulli made a good start at the start, maintaining the first position. Behind him comes his teammate, Fernando Alonso, followed by Jenson Button, Takuma Sato, author of a good start from the seventh position, Kimi Räikkönen, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. Already during the first lap from the rear of the car of Takuma Sato begins to come out of the smoke, gradually more evident: the Japanese driver continues his race and during the third lap the Honda engine of his BAR gives, flooding the oil track and creating a huge cloud of smoke. Takuma Sato moves away from the trajectory, but the visibility in the track involved is definitely compromised; in the general slowdown that follows, Giancarlo Fisichella hit the McLaren-Mercedes of David Coulthard. The Italian driver’s Sauber-Petronas overturns, but fortunately Giancarlo Fisichella remains unharmed. To clear the track of the debris and the damaged cars, the race direction decides to enter the safety car, which returns to the pits at the end of lap 7. Juan Pablo Montoya takes advantage of the restart to overtake Rubens Barrichello at the first corner, In the lead of the race the two Renault drivers, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso, increase their lead over the pursuers. The first to make his own pit stop, during lap 13, is Juan Pablo Montoya. Jenson Button returned to the pits to refuel on lap 18, while Kimi Räikkönen pit stopped on lap 24.

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In the following laps also all the other leading drivers return to the pits: at the end of the first series of stops Jarno Trulli continues to lead the race ahead of Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher (also the fastest lap in the race in a successful attempt to overtake Button and Räikkönen), Jenson Button and Kimi Räikkönen. The Finn is, however, forced to retire during lap 27, when on his McLaren there is a failure of the Mercedes engine that forces the team to stop him precautionarily. At the same time, Juan Pablo Montoya overtook Nick Heidfeld, taking the seventh position: the Colombian had, however, lost positions due to early refueling, which had driven him back behind Rubens Barrichello and Cristiano Da Matta. There will be no further changes of position until lap 40, when Fernando Alonso, during a dubbing attempt against Ralf Schumacher, slowed down by gearbox problems, exits the trajectory under the tunnel, losing control of the car and crashing violently against the barriers. The accident scatters the track of debris, to the point of requiring a new entry into the track of the safety car. All drivers except the two of Ferrari take advantage to make the second refueling. Michael Schumacher led the race, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya (fourth and dubbed), Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button. During lap 45 the safety car is getting ready to return to the box: to warm the tires, Michael Schumacher brakes abruptly at the exit of the tunnel catching Juan Pablo Montoya, who crashes into the Ferrari. The car of the German is glimpsed, going to crash against the barriers and getting irreparably damaged, while that of Juan Pablo Montoya comes out unscathed from the accident and continues his race. The safety car is back in the pits: at the restart, Jarno Trulli leads the race ahead of Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Juan Pablo Montoya, Cristiano Da Matta, Felipe Massa, Nick Heidfeld, Ralf Schumacher, Olivier Panis and Zsolt Baumgartner. The Italian driver immediately increases his advantage over the pursuers, while Rubens Barrichello, with a refueling made in less, can not undermine Jenson Button that precedes him. During the 52 lap Cristiano Da Matta is forced to drive through for having exceeded the speed limit in the pit lane, losing the fifth position to Felipe Massa. With four laps to go, Ralf Schumacher also retired, due to a gearbox problem. In the last laps Jenson Button approached Jarno Trulli, leading him less than a second behind. 

 

The Italian driver, however, makes no mistakes and won the Monaco Grand Prix, winning the first and only victory in his career ahead of Jenosn Button and Rubens Barrichello, the last driver at full laps. Following with one or more laps of delay Juan Pablo Montoya, Felipe Massa, Cristiano Da Matta, Nick Heidfeld (two laps) and Olivier Panis (three laps late). In Monte-Carlo anything can happen. Even that Jarno Trulli wins, that he never won, that he loses Michael Schumacher that he never lost, that we see overtaking that here are rare goods, that we lose diamonds on the track (the Jaguar, worth 200.000 euros, is open hunting) that here are widespread merchandise. A show with barrels (by Michael Schumacher himself, Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella), the safety car, the comeback. It was great Jarno Trulli. In a weekend he crowned his two career dreams, pole position and victory, in the most fascinating Grand Prix. He led the race from the beginning, with determination, courage and intelligence, he imposed his pace, fast at the beginning and in crucial moments, when he needed a margin of safety over opponents, mixed at the end, when it was only necessary to administer the advantage. For once the bad luck has aimed elsewhere. He would have probably won the same, but seeing Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso disappear from the mirrors was a great relief. In the last laps Jenson Button fell on him, closer and closer: 1.5 seconds behind, 0.9, 0.7, 0.64 on the last lap with the unknown number of dubbed, particularly incorrect. Then the party. The enthusiastic French cheering for Renault and the Italian cheering for Ferrari’s half-step. Chorus of sirens among the yachts at anchor in the Monegasque port, the delirium in Pescara, the city of the Jarno Trulli family. It is the second success of an Italian in Monte-Carlo, after the feat of Riccardo Patrese with Brabham in 1982. The series of Michael Schumacher, winner of the first five Grands Prix of the season and the last five Grands Prix of Monaco, stops, while Jarno Trulli takes a good step forward in the standings: Michael Schumacher aside, however unreachable (without the collision would have ended comfortable on the podium), the challenge for the second place in the World Championship is tight. Rubens Barrichello, third after a colourless race, leads the group with 38 points ahead of Jenson Button (32) and Jarno Trulli (31). 

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The excitement of the Monaco Grand Prix began after three laps. Takuma Sato’s BAR-Honda smoked with every change. It was the signal of an imminent rupture. The engine breaks permanently on the third lap developing a dense cloud of white smoke. All drivers slow down and take off. David Coulthard slows down more than the others and is hit by Giancarlo Fisichella. The Italian driver’s Sauber-Petronas overturns leaning against the guardrail. First thrill: Fisichella comes out with his legs from the cockpit and runs to his boat anchored nearby to reassure mom, partner and children. 

 

"I heard the noise of the other cars. I waited for everyone to pass, I untied my belts and went out". 

 

It’s the first controversy of the day: 

 

"I think David slowed down too much, because I hit him at 50 km/h. Maybe he even moved. I’m not angry about the accident but about the missed opportunity. I could take a great fourth place. I was driving in absolute calm also to save the tires, when the accident happened. I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t see it. Getting the data from the telemetry our technicians found that at the moment of the impact I was still traveling at 55 km/h. And to say that I had braked considerably. There were Barrichello and Montoya in front of me, I had taken a good start. They could pass, I couldn’t. Anyway, I’m very happy for Jarno, he deserved it. I hope to have other opportunities to get good results, with the car I have available". 

 

At Sauber they paid off in part with the fifth place of the young Brazilian Felipe Massa, for the second time in points since the beginning of the season. Massa has already done a test with Ferrari, Giancarlo Fisichella already has the red suit at home, but waiting to be called. However, his car is improving after a not too brilliant debut and the Italian driver hopes to be able to demonstrate his skills in the next races. 

 

"With great desire for revenge, because Sato had to stop him before the failure of the engine and made me run an absurd danger".

 

Enter the safety car to allow the efficient organizational machine to remove scrap. At the restart, Juan Pablo Montoya manages to prove that he surpasses everywhere. Rubens Barrichello pays for it. Jarno Trulli continues to lead in front of Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher shortens the distance when the others stop for the pit stop. On lap 42, Fernando Alonso took to the wall inside the tunnel in an attempt to round ralf Schumacher. It was the second controversy. 

 

"Ralf ignored the blue flags for seven turns, then he let me through the tunnel and accelerated as I passed it, pushing me out of the way". 

 

The reply of the German: 

 

"He’s young, calm down. I was going slow because I entered at most the fourth. I gave him all the space he wanted, he’s the one who has expanded too much". 

 

The race stewards did not take any action, but the entry of the safety car is decisive: to keep the brakes and tyres warm, Michael Schumacher brakes in the tunnel, and his car is touched by that of Juan Pablo Montoya and ends up against the wall. 

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Race over and farewell myth of eighteen victories in a season. Third controversy, no penalty. The Colombian can continue the race and, although doubled, ends in fourth place.

 

"He could and should have avoided me. Anyone else would have". 

 

Michael Schumacher does not seek controversy, but sends a message to Juan Pablo Montoya. The head to head between the World Champion and the Colombian is becoming a repeated case, reminiscent of the great duels of the past, when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost exchanged mutual improprieties. Even when they were teammates. The stewards at the end of the race listen to the versions of the two protagonists and in the late afternoon conclude with a judgment that leaves everyone surprised: 

 

"Having also examined the telemetry of the two cars, it is decided not to take disciplinary action". 

 

Normal race accident. But it wasn’t like that. For Michael Schumacher it is the first retirement from eighteen races in this part, it seems that many are happy to have blocked his race at the top of the standings, after five consecutive victories. Nobody said anything when the impetuous and at times reckless Takuma Sato with his BAR at the start gave a great turn to the German Ferrari to overcome it. Ditto when the same Japanese driver, with the engine that smoked conspicuously, made for three brake laps behind his team-mate Jenson Button and the two Renault cars of Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli, causing Michael Schumacher to lose contact: There were no protests. It is true that Michael Schumacher suddenly braked in the tunnel, a sharp slowdown. But Juan Pablo Montoya - also Jarno Trulli who was behind at that juncture - had already touched the Ferrari two corners before avoiding the collision for a few millimeters. Juan Pablo Montoya was doubled, why should he have approached Michael Schumacher waiting for the restart when the safety car was returning to the pits and the race would resume normally? Williams driver’s explanations are laconic: 

 

"Michael slowed down abruptly because he was warming up the brakes. I moved to the right. To avoid him I would have had to end up against the wall. The stewards? I don’t care what they think. And I don’t even care about the whistles of the fans and the fact that the next race will be at the Nurburgring. I only hope to have a good race, to have fun". 

 

The German pilot had no fun at all, repeating his version of the accident: 

 

"It is normal that at low speeds, at 100 km/h, when travelling behind the safety car, a wheel can be locked, especially the front ones that require more time to warm up. That’s why you saw the front left tire leave a mark on the asphalt. I was warned that the race would resume, I was taking the necessary measures. I am very sorry. I don’t know if with the strategy we had adopted I could have won, but the 8 points of the second place were safe and would have been welcome. A stupid accident and in my opinion Montoya made a mistake. If he wanted - I say it again - he could avoid me. However, I accept the decision of the stewards, the race can not be repeated from the beginning". 

 

Michael Schumacher, celebrating the winner of the day, expresses words of praise for Jamo Trulli: 

 

"He was very good, in qualifying and in the race. He deserves success. I know him well because we often meet to discuss the problems of the Pilots' Association. The way things were, if I hadn’t been eliminated, I don’t know if I could have beaten him. Fortunately, in a few days we will be racing in Germany and I will have little time to think about what happened in Monte-Carlo". 

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In the opinion of Scuderia Ferrari’s technical manager, Ross Brawn, the German driver would have had a chance to finish first: 

 

"Michael’s car still had a lot of gas in the tanks and before the stop, being alone in charge, he might have taken the advantage to not be reached. But we will never have the proof". 

 

Meanwhile, Ferrari renews the contract with Bridgestone for the supply of tires. An agreement that will last several years. Two accidents in the tunnel. Fault of poor visibility? Pilots say no: you can see very well. If anything, it is the cameras and television that give the wrong impression of total darkness. However, no matter what the incidents, there is some discussion about the possibility of putting stop lights on Formula 1 cars. Two years ago, Ross Brawn suggested that a system be adopted to allow drivers to understand who was braking in front. But many had argued, ironically, that single-seaters are not normal cars built to run on the street and that perhaps the beauty of racing is also to rely on the intuition and skill of competitors. In Monte-Carlo, however, this did not happen.

 

"Jarno I rebuilt it".

 

Esclama, vantadosene, Flavio Briatore. And Jarno Trulli thanks him: 

 

"He took me to Formula 1 and gave me confidence, it’s right that he takes some credit". 

 

Be a good boy and a good soul, in 119 Grands Prix this driver had never managed to win. Despite the talent. Despite a good car. It was close to us, and yet every time something happened, a piece broke, it made a mistake. In 1997, the year of the debut, at the Nurburgring was going to make it even with the Prost, but the engine exploded. 

 

"The skills were there, I returned the trust".

 

Says Flavio Briatore, general manager of Renault who spent the last five minutes of the race to suffer: 

 

"Chinese torture, but it was worth it. We gave Formula 1 what it needed". 

 

Translated: an alternative to the Ferrari-Schumacher monopoly. Jarno Trulli collects everyone’s hugs. The first fan is Papa Enzo, who passed on his passion for motors. A love cultivated in the family. At the age of two, the little boy played the pit stop with the tricycle: he went around the table and stopped every now and then to eat the bite that Mother Franca gave him. Three years ago he was photographed in Niki Lauda’s car. The favorite toy was the kart, which then became the starting point of the career. After two world titles he switched to German Formula 3, then to Formula 1. He loves all sports (he ran the New York marathon and trains by bike with Danilo Di Luca), produces wine, is engaged for four years with Barbara, an architect from Teramo who only went to see him run a couple of times. Tuesday, July 13, 2004 will turn 30 years: you have time to take away other satisfactions. 


"This victory is a great joy in a sea of disappointments".

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Is this a career twist? 

 

"Maybe. I hope to shake off the past". 

 

Are the Ferraris closer? 

 

"They are always very fast and Michael will win the title. But we have improved, we reduced the disadvantage". 

 

When did you know you won? 

 

"On the road". 

 

Please? 

 

"Let me explain: the race was in my hands. I won it or I lost it. Of course, there are unforeseen events. After the last pit stop I convinced myself that she was high". 

 

Michael Schumacher was in the front. 

 

"Yes, but it should have stopped once more". 

 

In Ferrari they argue that, if he had not been touched by Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher could have accumulated enough margin to stay in the lead after the pit stop. 

 

"Yes, as long as I gain 2.5 seconds per lap. It seems unrealistic. I would have won anyway, because I was able to create the void behind me. It was a great race, I did what I wanted. Congratulations also to the technicians: working hard they managed to solve some problems of handling". 

 

About Michel Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya: Jarno was the closest witness to the accident among the tough:

 

"When I saw them I laughed: they were attracted like two magnets. They had already touched each other at the previous turn". 

 

Did he have any problems with voice-overs? 

 

"Some drivers behaved shamefully, ignoring and blue flags. Ralf, for example, was incorrect. From now on, we will meet at the end of the race to discuss. We are mature people, it is unthinkable that you harm colleagues who fight for victory or podium". 

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Were you afraid of Jenson Button’s recovery? 

 

"Do you believe me when I say I never looked in mirrors? They were worried in the pits, I wanted to reassure them, but I preferred to shut up, concentrate on driving and respond with performance. As soon as I crossed the finish line I thanked the guys. Suddenly stress and tension had dissolved". 

 

What did Alonso tell you? 

 

"He hugged me. He was as happy as I was for his first success a year ago in Hungary. He wanted to cut my forehead. He’s a friend, we’re the best team in Formula 1". 

 

Did you ever fear that this success would never come? 

 

"No. I’m a tough guy, even though I had to go through a lot of hard times. Many people in the environment had little faith in me. This weekend, with pole position and first place, he silenced them all". 

 

Any special dedication? 

 

"To Italy. And to Italians. Because we are an extraordinary, fantastic, beautiful country. We must be proud of this, I am happy to be Italian". 

 

How will he celebrate? 

 

"After the party in the Prince’s palace I will go to sleep". 

 

Will you sleep well? 

 

"Much quieter than usual". 

 

Monday? 

 

"I’m going to visit my friend Dino who is in hospital in Paris. Then I’ll start work again". 

 

On the very day that Michael Schumacher interrupted his winning streak, Rubens Barrichello was not in a position to launch a winning attack. The third place does not satisfy him. By the way, it was also his birthday, so the Brazilian wanted to celebrate differently. To slow him down, after lap 25, it was a great hit that his Ferrari took in the entrance on the Casino square. It seems that something has cracked on the car and the driver thought he could no longer risk it. Then, in the end, when he realized that he could not reach those before him and run the danger of being overtaken by those behind him, he limited himself to bringing the car to the finish line. 

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"Honestly I should consider myself lucky because I managed to finish the race. We had a lot of gas in the tank, and there was also a time when the wheels were starting to lock. So when the safety car entered the track, I also passed at low speed near the pit wall so that the mechanics could check if something had broken in the rear suspension. I felt it touching on the asphalt. Not much could be understood, but I realized that something was wrong. The technicians will now investigate". 

 

Rubens Barrichello saw nothing of Juan Pablo Montoya’s collision with Michael Schumacher: 

 

"I was far enough away. I realized what had happened only when I saw Michael’s car with a bent suspension and pieces on the asphalt. Instead I immediately realized that the BAR of Sato smoked conspicuously for a problem with the engine and the gearbox. They should have stopped it before it all exploded. When the Japanese car stopped I went to zero per hour. Because of the acrid smoke I was ending up against a guardrail". 

 

A not very brilliant qualifying, a difficult start, a result that still allows the Brazilian to keep second place in the overall standings. In fact, his distance from Michael Schumacher has been reduced from 18 to 12 points. Monte-Carlo was the land of toys, now it is also the circuit where Renault, unique in the season, beat Ferrari. Says Flavio Briatore:

 

"When I was young I came from Cuneo with friends. We talked for hours about the cost of the boats and the luxuries on board: we never guessed what we understood, we provincial boys, boats, but in the meantime we dreamed of having something like this one day. It was not envy, it was pure dream". 

 

The fairy tale is rare, but it has become reality. Him and the flirting with Naomi, him and the models that others dream about, him and a little girl that they say is his daughter but he doesn’t recognize, him and a club in Costa Smeralda called Billionaire. But he, too, has a rare nose for a world that lives so fast it won’t notice where it’s going. 

 

"Maybe it’s because of Formula 1 I never cared much: in Cuneo, in my time, sport was the ball, racing cars were never seen. So I don’t go crazy for a new suspension, I don’t spend hours looking at diagrams, and when I close the door to my office, I think about my own business and look around. I look at people, unlike almost everyone who lives in this world". 

 

Does Formula 1 lack a relationship with reality? 

 

"When I worked at Benetton, we tried to understand what the audience was looking for in a sweater or a skirt. Here we talk for months about what needs to change but always with the belief that what is good for us is good for people. We must go back, take back the past and the accounts in red will force us to do so".

 

How? 

 

"We need to reduce costs and increase revenue by creating a show that audiences like. We need to change the mechanism of qualifying, lower the prices of tickets, because if they cost 25% less Formula 1 would not be a television phenomenon more than the circuit. You have to redistribute the earnings. We talk about it and never decide". 

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The biggest mistake of all? 

 

"Taking a direction by following it without understanding that it could not last forever. In the years of the very fat cows nobody said that Formula 1 was a bubble destined to burst and that it was necessary to take advantage of the abundance for when the cows would have become thin. We did like the new economy, when a company run by four people in one cellar was worth more than another with decades of work. In the end the cellar remained". 

 

Can we go back? 

 

"We exaggerated. An example? We looked for increasingly exotic and expensive materials. The beryllium after four days that one had it all had it: so where was the advantage? People don’t give a shit about our devils anyway". 

 

Isn’t the technological challenge essential? 

 

"Yes, but it would be better to make an engine that lasts for three weekends and reduces fuel consumption and Pollution instead of looking for materials that serve to go beyond the Moon because those to get to the Moon we have already experienced them all. I’m only writing checks for $200.000, I’d like to sign one for $6.000". 

 

Briatore speaks of crisis in a world that between sponsors and television rakes millions of euros. 

 

"Like football, we thought that television rights would be a variable in continuous growth so a footballer who earned 300.000 euros now takes 700,000. But the televisions that bought the sport quickly realized that they paid too much and they brake". 

 

then who pays? 

 

"As there are entrepreneurs who sell out with football, here too there are people who sold their house to pay the privilege of running and finish last. The adrenaline, the pleasure of being in the spotlight, signing autographs, have created infernal toys. You have to recreate the charm and dream". 

 

Shouldn’t we start with the lost characters?

 

"It is a generational fact, we have led to young people who cannot have the charisma of Prost, Mansell, Senna. Habits have changed. Piquet was sleeping in the garage when he started. We were all together and having fun. There were VIPs and beautiful women because there was time to look after them. Today we move from one meeting to another and sponsors impose time consuming obligations". 

 

How are the pilots today? 

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"They ended up behind a crystal because of us. Why shouldn’t Schumacher be available to everyone? My pilots also take money to talk to people. There are those who in normal life would take two dollars instead earn 40.000.000 dollars a year, engineers who receive seven times more than they would at the factory. Our environment has enriched many people but not everyone understands it". 

 

Is Michael Schumacher good or bad? 

 

"His presence is a limit to the growth of his colleagues. He innovated the world of drivers: he was the first to undergo long workouts in the gym. But it also led to the habit of spending all the time with technicians studying telemetry, strategies and the rest. Pilots live more hidden, become less characters. Montoya, without results, deflated. Alonso if he doesn’t ruin himself, he has everything, as Senna had it: he is beautiful, he has character, he is Latin. Maybe Button will make it, even if he is English. With him I lived a difficult year then we understood: it is true that with the first salary had bought the boat from 20 meters, but after a few days I had made him sell. It has changed, for the better". 

 

How do you discover a talent? 

 

"I valued Trulli, I had a nose for Schumi, Button, Webber, Alonso maybe because I’m not from this world and I’m disenchanted. I don’t know how it happens, but at some point you feel that that guy’s gonna be good. Next will be Lopez, an Argentinian who I am training in Formula 3000". 

 

Jarno Trulli proved that Michael Schumacher is a human? 

 

"Michael is formidable but he also fell at a time when competition was small. Had he been born five or ten years earlier, he would have crashed into Senna, Prost and pilots of that caliber in the middle of the chamber. Instead he had to fight Hakkinen, with Villeneuve. One year he won the World Championship even Damon Hill". 

 

How did it happen that you, a manager, became more of a character than many pilots? 

 

"Because people see me as a normal person, even though they know me from the magazine stories and the engagement with Naomi has brought more than two World Cup winners with Schumacher to my home. I am normal because I like to dedicate myself to the life that makes people dream. People need to dream. The Billionaire, my club, passes for something arrogant, even Aldo Grasso bothered to say it. But it is a costume observatory, it is a dream that everyone can afford, at least once in their life. As I am a dream the beautiful sleeps that accompany me. I represent this for the Italian, although I don’t know if Italy is really prepared in Briatore: for twenty years I don’t live there anymore, it is a nice place to spend the holidays, but I don’t know if I would be ready to work there". 

 

The podium party, the prince party, a quick dinner with his friends and then to sleep. Jarno Trulli is a quiet guy who after a good race loves to relax. No excess, no alcohol (he does not drink, even if he produces wine). But to Rainier of Monaco he could not say no. The winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, by tradition, is a guest at the Palace. 

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"It’s too good. I made a dream come true. I’m happy for me, for Renault, for Italians, for French, for everyone. I feel lighter. It’s a feeling that I started to feel while crossing the finish line. I took off the weight of many disappointments". 

 

Jarno Trulli had not taken his tuxedo to Monte-Carlo. At the appointment on the Rocca he presented himself with a dark dress: a derogation from the protocol is necessary to allow him entry. He didn’t have a tie either, but it wasn’t hard to find him a bow tie. Luckily he had not picked up the tuft in a ponytail, a recent habit that probably brings him luck but that would hardly have been appreciated in that context. The Italian driver stays with Ranieri and his family until 0:30 a.m., receives a gift of a watch, then greets and reaches his relatives: there was his father Enzo who follows him around the world and who saw the race in the Renault motorhome:

 

"I never got excited, I was sure Jarno would make it".

 

And there are also mom Franca and girlfriend Barbara, architect of Teramo, who do not like the circuits but in the afternoon they quickly packed their bags and left by car to reach Monte-Carlo. Together they toasted in an Italian restaurant. Monday, May 24, 2004 Jarno Trulli moves to Paris to visit his friend Dino Toso, head of aerodynamic engineers at his team, in hospital. After visiting the Renault plants. Wednesday 26 May 2004 will leave for Germany, because Sunday 30 May 2004, on the circuit of Nurburgring will give revenge to his team-mate, Femando Alonso, to Michael Schumacher, to Jenson Button who is another good and fast driver who has never won a Grand Prix. 

 

"I’ve known for a long time that victory is in my ability. But for one reason or another, I’ve always missed it. I’ve been through some really bad times. Now that it’s here I feel like justice has been done". 

 

A bit of bad luck, however, continues to carry it with him: instead of celebrating him, German newspapers ride the controversy unleashed by Michael Schumacher. 

 

"Who will stop this crazy Montoya once and for all?"

 

Headlines Bild with traditional fair play. 

 

"Almost in every race he runs against our super Ferrari champion. And at Imola he offended Schumi calling him blind and stupid".

 

Berlin tabloid B. Z. goes further: 

 

"Trulli wins because Montoya kicks out Schumi". 

 

But the good Jarno had built the victory himself: it is true that Michael Schumacher was in the lead when Juan Pablo Montoya hit him, but he would have had to stop once again to make the refueling. 


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