#785 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix

2022-12-30 00:00

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#Third Part, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Siria Famulari,

#785 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix

The black handbag with the diagonal shoulder strap, the usual jeans, the eternal frowning face. Fernando Alonso, the World Champion who succeeded in t


Moreover, Luca Badoer himself, the other test driver and great friend of the German (who finished 0.215 seconds behind), had to admit:


"Michael is a superhero in Formula 1, he was the greatest of all and one year is not enough to forget how fast he drives".


So why waste such a chance? Schumacher is ready for use:


"My hope is to be able to help Ferrari in preparing the car for next season. The FIA has prohibited electronic aids, I drove without them, my experience could be of great use".


Can the Maranello team remain insensitive to such an appeal? Perhaps David Coulthard is right, who jokes:


"I saw that new driver, Schumacher. He seems fast. He knows he's coming to Formula 1".


At a certain point, during the second day of testing, the feat even becomes science fiction. Twice. The first a few minutes after the lunch break. There is an incredible time circulating on the monitors, 1'20"476, more than a second less than the track record set by Massa in May, that 1'20"597 which seemed unbeatable, also because his Ferrari had electronic aids, traction control, the one Schumacher is driving isn't, it's all handle and driver. A shiver of emotion runs down the backs of all the fans present. You want to see that the phenomenon has even surpassed itself, he wanted to carve his return into legend. Far from being a pensioner, he's still running like a madman. And then in the afternoon, another twist, another monstrous chronometric result, 1'19"603, broken circuit record, a time that is still circulating on various websites in the evening, because it is reported in the official press releases of some teams. False alarm In both cases the pensioner had crossed a chicane, the performance cannot be approved, so much so that Ferrari correctly reports his real best time of the day, 1'21"489, a chronometric match which on 12 May 2007 however it would have taken him just 0.068 seconds from Felipe Massa's pole position, and with less electronics. The wonder of the moment may therefore be false, but the newfound desire to amaze, the intact ability, the talent that seems to never die are not false, even if Schumacher reiterates that he feels like an ex and wants to remain one forever.


"I was a little nervous at the beginning, but I must admit that I had a lot of fun. I didn't miss Formula 1, because it can be said that I never abandoned it, with Ferrari, with the men of the team, I always remained in contact. I missed driving, the possibility of venting my passion, all these kilometers allowed me to relive old emotions".


Above all, they made him understand what to do when he grows up, at least in the immediate future. No more headphones on your head, impromptu presences in the pits.


"This way I have fun, this way I am useful to the team. My experience can help Ferrari".


He enjoyed the role of test driver, the opportunity could soon arise again.


"We haven't talked about it with the team. There was only this test on the program, we concentrated on the work to be done in Barcelona".


But Schumacher went strong, very strong. From 4 to 7 December 2007 we return to the track in Jerez, Raikkonen will certainly be there, a space could be carved out for him (Ferrari has yet to define the programme), unless Maranello wants to avoid direct confrontation, given that Massa , after a spin in the morning with some damage to the car, he was beaten by almost 0.6 seconds in the afternoon. 


Test driver Schumacher knows his job very well. Go back to running?


"I don't think so, there are no vacancies at the moment...".


In truth there would be a seat in McLaren.


"I don't think I would feel in tune with the team like I did at Ferrari. My brother Ralf could go".


Then, becoming serious again:


"My choice to quit is final. I'm not as fit as I used to be, I train less, forget about whether I can last an entire season. Two days are fine, even if now I have a bit of pain in my neck, a year isn't".


But these times achieved in Barcelona are impressive.


"To be honest, I'm surprised too, I didn't think I could go so fast. In my day, with the 10-cylinder engine, without traction control it was easier, you helped yourself with the gearbox; now, with the 8 cylinder, the car is less drivable, the spin is always lurking".


It happened to him too. Just for a moment, he immediately regained control of the car, unlike Massa. But be careful with the comparisons, suggests the pensioner.


"Raikkonen and Massa are the two best riders in the world".


And Alonso?


He didn't win. The best is the one who wins".


One, Michael Schumacher, guarantees that he still feels like a pensioner, even if, upon returning to the Ferrari, he was immediately the fastest. The other, Fernando Alonso, would really like to race, but for now he remains unemployed, albeit a luxury one. Protagonists of ferocious duels on the track for years, the two former World Champions remain the most discussed figures in F1, even if they are now forced to share the cover with Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. However, if Michael Schumacher returns to be talked about for just one day, the silence on Fernando Alonso is destined to be broken soon. Having joyfully abandoned McLaren, the Spaniard received a maxi-offer from Red Bull Racing, ready to do anything crazy to have him on their car in 2008. The Austrian Mateschitz's team is willing to sign him for only one year, given that he The Spaniard still hopes that a place at Ferrari will become available in 2009. Furthermore, he let him know that he had no problems in exceeding the figure offered by Renault (20.000.000 euros per season), even going as far as to propose 30.000.000 euros. A huge economic proposal, also advantageous on a contractual level, which risks making the Spaniard falter. In fact, Alonso never hid his doubts about Red Bull Racing (he hoped they would at least take Ross Brawn, who instead ended up at Honda), a team destined to make him play a secondary role, as he has always declined the advances of Toyota, another team in difficulties, but now he could change his mind, given that Renault has also remained entangled in a spy story. However, the French team shows no signs of nervousness. He is convinced that he can get Alonso back and on his terms: a two-year agreement.


"I don't think the fans want a World Championship decided by the temperature of the fuel. If anyone believes that this is the best solution for Formula 1, then I will have to seriously think about retiring".


If it's not the anticipation of a sentence, we're close. Because the weighty message comes from Bernie Ecclestone, the man who for years has been pulling the strings of this contradictory world of the Circus, a sport which thanks to him has multiplied its income to reach dizzying figures. On Thursday 15 November 2007 in London, in a law firm, McLaren's appeal against the commissioners' decision at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix, when the judges chose not to remove the two BMWs of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica from the classification, is discussed and Nico Rosberg's Williams, accused of racing with too cold fuel. The three cars had finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton and had allowed Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari to win the World Championship. In theory, the world title, if the three were disqualified, could pass into the hands of the McLaren driver; who will judge will be the Court of Appeal, a body independent of the FIA, which could not care what Max Mosley, the president of the Federation, said and what Bernie Ecclestone claims, but the words pronounced by the English manager contribute to supporting the thesis that there will be no upheavals. Ecclestone would not like an epilogue of this type, and if it were to happen he is ready to leave F1: the threat will hardly go unheeded. Moreover, McLaren itself, through the mouth of Martin Whitmarsh, its administrator, admits:


"We are not asking for Hamilton's victory, we just want clarity on the regulations, given that in '99 we lost a World Cup due to a decision by the Court of Appeal".


This does not mean that Ferrari is experiencing this last act with a bit of apprehension. The Maranello team will be represented by Stefano Domenicali, new head of Gestion Sportiva, here as a great regulations expert, Luca Baldisserri and by three lawyers, Tozzi, the same one who played an important role in the disqualification of McLaren on 13 September in Paris for the spy story, Maestretti and Peter. In the hope that this deployment of forces will be useless. And that McLaren's appeal be rejected as inadmissible from the beginning. Without even going into the details. Other than clarification on the regulations as Whitmarsh, the sole director, had advertised the day before. McLaren tried. She showed up in London more aggressive than ever, with her lawyers she asked that the world title be taken away from Raikkonen and assigned to Hamilton. Because, says Ian Mill, one of the lawyers:


"If there was an infringement in Brazil by Rosberg's Williams and the two BMWs of Kubica and Heidfeld, there was a situation of unfair advantage. And the sanction can only be disqualification. In the past every time there was a disqualification the ranking was revised. We ask that it happen on this occasion too".


Clear words. So explicit that it triggered an angry reaction from Ferrari, which with one of its lawyers, Nigel Tozzi, is not at all tender towards its now hated rivals. Here too, very harsh concepts.


"McLaren executives are shameless hypocrites. They had said in public that they were not coming here to win the World Championship by default, but instead with infamous legal maneuvers they are now trying to overturn the track's verdict. They aim to win with the skill of lawyers and not of pilots".


A full-blown war. Which now goes beyond the races or the petrol case discussed in London with four hours of speeches by the lawyers of the various teams involved; a rift between Ferrari and McLaren that ignited 2007, born with the spy story and which can now be considered incurable.


Even on Thursday, in a trial moved to London due to the transport strike that hit Paris, there is no shortage of low blows, but once again the Maranello team should come out on top, with the title remaining in favor of Kimi Raikkonen, even if the sentence will only arrive during the evening. The International Court of Appeal, a body that does not depend on the FIA and made up of four judges, in fact used a very particular procedure for this appeal. It was thought that first a decision would be made on the admissibility of the complaint and then only in a second case would the merits be considered. Instead, the judges specified that the competent seat for any ruling is Paris, the seat of the FIA (it is no coincidence that today they will move to France to meet in the Council Chamber and from there they will issue their verdict), and that in London they would not have taken no action. So they limited themselves to giving space to the various lawyers (the lawyers of BMW and Williams spoke, the teams that could be punished, McLaren, which has lodged an appeal, but also Ferrari, worried about saving the classification of the Brazilian Grand Prix and the final of the World Championship), only to then postpone everything. A rather serious McLaren oversight weighs on admissibility. He should have lodged a protest against the finishing order in Brazil immediately after the race and he didn't. Which could lead the judges to reject the appeal. However, if it were accepted, there are two other elements that give Ferrari hope. The first concerns the circuit temperature. Once upon a time, the data provided by the FIA (in Brazil 36 °C) was the basis, but from this year the reference point is Meteo France, which in Sao Paulo gave lower levels, making the weather regular (and not colder) Williams and BMW fuel temperature. 


The second calls into question an anomaly in the regulation, which must be eliminated as soon as possible. The rule talks about petrol on board, but the FIA sensor is in the tank. So you can't measure the fuel in the car, but only the fuel in the pits. And those who don't want the disqualification of the pilots could easily cling to this quibble. The wait therefore speaks in favor of Ferrari. However, McLaren's about-face and Maranello's harsh accusations remain. Having concluded the consultations, the FIA Court of Appeal rejects McLaren's appeal filed for the irregular fuels of BMW and Williams in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Now there are no more doubts. Now he can finally celebrate, world champion in his first year in Ferrari, like Scheckter and Fangio, even better than Schumacher: Kimi Raikkonen remains on top of the world, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren driver, will not win the title by default. The FIA Court of Appeal has ruled inadmissible the appeal presented by his team against the failure to disqualify Rosberg's Williams and the two BMWs of Heidfeld and Kubica, cars which in the last Brazilian Grand Prix had ended up in the sights of the race judges due to their fuel being too cold. At the time, the stewards had deemed it appropriate not to change the finishing order of the race, leaving Hamilton in seventh place and effectively sanctioning Raikkonen's final victory. Last night the four judges of the Court of Appeal reiterated that the verdict cannot be touched, that Ferrari is World Champion and that McLaren, for the umpteenth time in this disastrous season, is forced to remain empty-handed. After a day and a half of anguished waiting, because there was still a world title at stake, shortly after 8:30 p.m. the FIA communicates the long-awaited news: appeal rejected. For inadmissibility. The slowness of the judgement, which isn't even a sentence, may be surprising given that the judges didn't even go into the merits, but in the end for Ferrari what matters is the substance.


"A last, desperate attempt to overturn the track result was rejected". 


It is the first comment from Jean Todt, the CEO of the Maranello factory, more radiant than ever. A sentence that is equivalent to: justice has been done, said if you like even with a certain amount of resentment, given that Ferrari on Thursday in London, during the hearing and the speeches of the lawyers of the various parties involved, seemed particularly indignant at the about-face of the McLaren, unleashed in asking for the world championship scepter for Hamilton, after in the previous days, to justify the appeal, he had stated that he only wanted clarifications on the regulations. Big words had flown between the two teams and who knows what could have happened if the Court of Appeal had decided to change the classification of the Brazilian Grand Prix and award the final victory to the McLaren driver. 


What got everyone out of the way seems to have been a procedural flaw on the part of the English team, which in the heat of the moment, on the evening of 21 October 2007, forgot to present a formal protest against the order of arrival, a necessary condition for then being able to present a appeal. The mistake was paid dearly, because it allowed the four judges (the American John Cassidy, the Greek Vassilis Koussis, the Portuguese Jose Nacedo e Cunha and the Czech Jan Stovicek, who held the role of president) of the Court of Appeal of don't even go into the merits of the matter. Of course, the decision was not easy, given that the four, after moving from London to Paris, discussed at length, but in the end the thesis of inadmissibility prevailed, with all due respect to the furious McLaren. Thus ends the most poisonous season in the history of Formula 1. Even Jean Todt underlines it, in his comment full of satisfaction.


"The Court of Appeal's decision finally puts an end to a very intense season, both on and off the track. Now all our energies will be entirely concentrated on preparing for the 2008 World Championship".


At McLaren, beaten once again in court, in addition to the defeats on the track, all that remains is anger. However, after the inadmissibility of the appeal, it was masked by forced diplomacy. Hamilton states:


"No one wanted to take the world title away from Raikkonen, not me, not the team. He ended up in front of everyone, he deserved it. That was not the purpose of the complaint".


The objective, reiterates Whitmarsh, the CEO, was a clarification of the petrol temperature rule.


"We hope that it was provided in the text of the sentence which we do not yet know. At the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix there was a written report from the FIA technical delegate, an investigation by the race commissioners and an assessment of the infringement by BMW and Williams, appealing on our part was logical and inevitable. We hope that this fuel issue will not remain unresolved for 2008 as well, thus preventing a similar situation from happening again".


As always, only the good of Formula 1 was thought of. But then why did the McLaren lawyers ask for the world title for Hamilton in their arguments before the judges? Be that as it may, these are above all decisive days for the F1 market. In fact, Fernando Alonso's future will soon be known. On the eve of the decision there is Flavio Briatore's prediction:


"At 60% he returns to Renault".


However, the boss of the French team reveals the obstacle:


"When you divorce, it's not easy to start over".


One thing is certain though:


"In 2008 Renault will have different drivers".


And this means that, with Kovalainen, Giancarlo Fisichella will also have to look for a place somewhere else. The Italian pilot says:


"I don't know anything, there's nothing official. I'll look around, there are other teams. I haven't signed with anyone at the moment".


Meanwhile, Toyota has announced the second driver: the German Timo Glock will be Jarno Trulli's partner. Glock replaces Ralf Schumacher. And Michael? Flavio Briatore Prediction:


"After the tests he could return, if he had a competitive car with which he can win".


There is one last story still to be clarified, and spy story number two:


"It's clear that this is McLaren's revenge for everything that happened. Every engineer who leaves takes a bit of dowry with him, this is normal. We have never used the material in question and have suspended this gentleman. It's difficult, when you have 1000 employees, trying to understand what's happening in each department. We need clearer rules, we shouldn't leave anything to interpretation".


Meanwhile, it turns out that the powder found in the pockets of Nigel Stepney, the former Ferrari chief mechanic who triggered the spy story in Formula 1, is comparable to that which was found in the tanks of Kimi Raikkonen's single-seater in Maranello, on the eve of the departure for the last Monaco Grand Prix. This is the outcome of the analyzes of the chemical laboratory of the University of Modena, consulted while awaiting the results of the RIS of the Parma Carabinieri by investigating judge Barbara Malvasi. The substance is confirmed to be a compound based on phosphate and calcium. Here we go again: the ruling on the second installment of the Spy story will also generate controversy and appeals. On Thursday 6 December 2007 the FIA discovered that Renault had violated the Formula 1 regulations. The team directed by Flavio Briatore was in possession of secret data from McLaren. However, the World Council decides not to inflict any punishment on the French team.


"They are guilty of violating art. 151c (regarding the unauthorized possession of documents - ed.) but will not suffer any conviction”.


This time too, the guilty team was pardoned on first appeal. The decision would have come thanks to the defense strategy adopted by Renault. Briatore allegedly admitted that a team employee, Phil Mackereth, was in possession of McLaren material. In particular, the engineer would have provided the French team with the drawings of the tank, gearbox, mass damper and suspension adopted by the Woking team. However, these data would have been ignored in the design of the single-seater because they were considered unusable. The French lawyers have in fact underlined that some of these elements (the mass damper) have been prohibited by the FIA itself. Renault's defense would therefore have convinced the judges that the data stolen from McLaren was not used. however, the sentence will cause discussion. One thing seems certain: it will immediately have effects on the driver market. Meanwhile, the rumors that I want the Spaniard Fernando Alonso at Renault are intensifying. According to the opinion of sources close to the Spanish driver, the agreement would include a two-season contract (without termination clause) at 25.000.000 euros per year. And at Renault, the Catalan newspaper underlines, he would also have the status of first driver with Nelson Piquet Jr. as his teammate. The only obstacle to a deal that is now nearing completion would have been a maximum fine for the spy story or a fine that could limit the car's competitiveness in 2008. None of this has happened. Meanwhile, the Felipe Massa who arrived in Jerez, Spain, on Thursday 6 December 2007, to complete 100 test laps, is a different man, a married man. First of all, congratulations on the wedding. He was fast in that too: twenty minutes, right?


"But when ever. The service lasted as usual, forty-five minutes. Just as it is not true that we waited for my father-in-law - who had fallen ill - for an hour and a half".


Will he now think more about the World Championship or the heir?


"And why not both together? They are two completely different things. Let's say I'm aiming for the World Cup first and then becoming a father. Let's say I'll work on it".


Speaking of the World Championship, how is it going without the electronics?


"We worked on the car to improve its stability, but many things have changed. I repeat my opinion".


And which?


"Which is less safe, easier to go off track. If you get an oil stain you lose your grip and there's nothing you can do".


More accidents, he said.  


"Exact. And we haven't shot on water yet. In the wet everything becomes more dangerous".


We wanted to improve the show...


"On the entertainment side it will be fun, less on the safety side".


But could it have been done differently?


"Let one thing be clear: remove the traction control, but if the aerodynamics remain the same you get nothing. The mechanical aerodynamics should have been higher. Do you know what the result will be?"


Tell us.


"That the cars will be more difficult to drive, I think of oversteer problems, and I add that overtaking will not be seen. If those are the expectations they will be disappointed".


But how?


"That's right. The chances of errors will increase, therefore more different situations. But not the overtaking. And we hope not to see any serious accidents".


Let's go back to the present: this morning we see Michael Schumacher again in Formula One.


"Good, let's have some fun".


What if she really comes back? The rumors are increasing day by day.


"Sorry, she's 38 years old. She is fit, she has driven for many years. What could be the problem?"


So would you see it as competitive?


"Certain. A year doesn't change anything if you keep fit like Michael did. If you spend it drinking in front of the television, that's another matter. He is fit, he hasn't lost his speed".


Massa is biased, he is a friend of him.


"I have a great feeling with Michael. But what I said remains true".


A look at the past, now. Ferrari won, and it was supposed to be a transition year.


"It's not a surprise to me. Because Ferrari is a good team, where there are good people. Who work together. And the car has always been fast".


But what is the lesson of the 2007 season?


"Continuity. The one who had the most continuity won".


What was the cursed Grand Prix in which he lost the World Championship?


"All those where I lost points. Not one in particular".


Want revenge?


"Of course I want to win in 2008".


Will it be the outsider?


"What does outsider mean?"


The unfavorite one that surprises everyone.


"Perfect, let's hope so".


Let's go back to the finished season: everyone expected the Massa-Raikkonen rivalry, but instead the one between Alonso and Hamilton exploded. Why?


"Character reasons. It's one thing if you fight fairly on the track and then work to improve the team. That is the fundamental reason for winning: if the car goes fast there are more chances for everyone".




"But the opposite happened at McLaren, evidently".


And can you imagine a World Championship without Fernando Alonso for 2008?


"Honestly no, it's difficult. But it's not impossible. But if before I was curious to know how the story ended, now I don't care so much anymore, what will be will be. I think about my team".


Here, the Ferrari. He has been there for two years and now knows Maranello well. Can you say what Ferrari has that other teams don't have?


"The link. The way of working. Passion. This makes Ferrari special. As time passes I understand what it means to be part of Ferrari, the passion that surrounds it. I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but I could easily finish my career here".


In Italy.


"A special country. I like food, when I'm in Italy I don't feel homesick, I enjoy being there. We live well".


One last thing: has marriage made you more mature?


"Well, can I say? Everything always looks the same to me, apart from this little ring on my ring finger".


He is about to find a home, Fernando Alonso. Indeed, he is about to return since he will end up at Renault barring any twists and turns that would truly be incredible. The announcement will be made on Monday 10 December 2007, at the latest on Tuesday. The 2008 World Championship is therefore starting to take shape, also because with the hiring of the Spanish driver there will be the so-called cascade effect for other drivers, with four places up for grabs (and the two Italians, Giancarlo Fisichella and Vitantonio Liuzzi, fighting for the placed at Force India, ex Spyker). With Fernando Alonso returning from Flavio Briatore, the shares of the French team are also recovering, after a year that fell far short of all expectations.


"And it will certainly help us at Ferrari too".


Felipe Massa says confidently.


"Because Alonso is a good driver, and I really want to see at McLaren how they will replace him".


So, McLaren weaker and Ferrari stronger. The Spaniard, in truth, had no longer thought about Renault since he accepted the court of Ron Dennis (winter 2006) and decided to move to McLaren.


"With this choice I wanted to guarantee myself a high-level future".


Fernando Alonso had said, making it clear that the good times at Renault were now over. He saw it right in the middle, in the sense that Renault actually went into decline, but he hadn't imagined Hamilton's rapid explosion at McLaren and the catastrophic social relations that were then a consequence of the young Englishman's excellent performances. Furthermore, Alonso had to witness, and experience, the spy story scandal which further ruined his year, and that of the Anglo-German team. Despite everything, he was the protagonist for the final victory until the last Grand Prix and, for those who remember, Hamilton's real opponent - before the Brazilian Grand Prix - was considered himself, and certainly not Raikkonen who, to win, would have It took a lucky series of coincidences. Which then happened above all due to the mistakes of Ron Dennis' team and Lewis Hamilton himself. Once the World Championship closed, the hunt for the team began: Toyota? Rich but without technology, a complicated management team without a real leader. The Japanese offer was there, it could have represented the new challenge (raising a team in a crisis of results), but the Japanese were unable to respond to Fernando Alonso's needs for guarantees. Then Red Bull Racing: fascinating from a media perspective, and eager to confirm itself on the track too. With one problem, however: it competes with the Renault engine. And so here we are at Briatore's house, who has asked the sponsor for more money to deal with the new arrival and sacrifices from the parent company.


"But returns are never easy".


And then there was the problem with McLaren, the second chapter of the spy story. But now there are no more obstacles. Meanwhile, on Saturday 8 December 2007, in Jerez, those from Honda approached the Ferrari pits with a threatening look and shook their fingers:


"But do you know the rules? That car over there must have the green light for rookies behind it, because the driver doesn't have a superlicence".


The Ferrari engineers, a little perplexed, turn and look to understand which car the Japanese are talking about: it is Michael Schumacher's car. They start to reply, but the Honda people are laughing out loud and they end up patting themselves on the back. Partly for the looming Christmas, but also for Ferrari who won the World Championship but, above all, for Michael Schumacher, the unwitting protagonist of the prank scene. But Michael is the one who has the most fun of all: he does many more things than when he was racing, the German. And he smiles, as much as he smiles. He is relaxed, he signs autographs for everyone, he no longer denies himself as in the past, forced by the weight of popularity. Look Michael, your retired life is golden..


"Well, I enjoy it. I no longer have any obligations, there are no pressures of the race".


But a pensioner commercial really did it.


"Oh yes, for Fiat. In Germany".


Kimi Raikkonen is also there, and she shows him how a pensioner drives.




But on the track it goes fast which is a beauty.


"I try to do my job".


Long live humility.


"Ninth. That's how it is. I look for sensations, and I try to translate them for the team”.


As a good pensioner, a true teacher, he could teach these young people...


"We would miss this too. I don't have to teach anything. These young drivers know how to drive without prompting".


Even without electronics?


"Also, of course".


So why would they ask her to try?


"Because there are many parameters to evaluate, many paths. I have to open the paths for her, choose the right one. And they dedicate themselves to the final adjustments"


Do you know what they say?




That you are a lucky pensioner: you pick up the phone and they give you a Ferrari.


"I wish it was like that. Are you aware that testing has been decreased? Are the kilometers limited? You can't play like with toy cars".


His brother Ralf has practically announced his farewell from racing. The Schumacher family exits Formula 1.


"I'm sorry, because we had made a name for ourselves. I talked to Ralf but I don't know all his options. I think he can do other things, instead of fighting for the last or penultimate place on the grid. However, the last word has not been said".


Let's go back to Ferrari. How did she go?


"Good, I'd say. We are preparing for next year, without traction control, electronics. We try solutions for set-ups and strategies".


And is he satisfied?


"A bit of difficulty due to the many red flags, but the program is very open and I seem to have understood a lot. I work a bit for today and a bit for 2009, with slick, smooth tyres".


She confirms that she likes the test driver's job.


"I like driving the car, work is not important".


Look, will Alonso return to Renault then?


"Well, honestly I don't know the story in detail, what could I say? I can't comment on something I don't know".


In 2008 traction control went away, in 2009 slick tires arrived. Will it benefit the show?


"It will certainly be different, because the riders will have more grip but less aerodynamics. At a performance level there could be more overtaking. But in the current state of things, we really can't say".


Since he's taken a liking to it, will he continue to test the car?




But how does it end here?


"This test wasn't already planned after Barcelona. And there are no other future plans".


She can always pick up the phone, as we said before.


"I would like to drive the car again, but as soon as the season starts you have to let the owners, those who will race the grand prix, drive the car. Of course, if there were some specific problem and my experience was needed...".


Will be available.


"Exactly, but there are no other plans at the moment. The important thing is that the team knows that I am available".


His thoughts when he saw Raikkonen win the championship.


"I was very happy. I have been part of Ferrari for so long and continue to be involved in all the details. It was a real pleasure for the boys, they did such a great job. Because it was certainly a delicate period with important people who left the team".


He didn't think: could I have won it?


"I don't know if I could have won or not, but I'm happy that there is still someone who thinks I could have won it".


He was mentioning the important people who left: Ross Brawn at Honda?


"I wished him well. I know he is happy, because he wanted to stay in England".


In Jerez you met Hamilton: are you surprised by this young man's performance?


"No. He had a fantastic season for his debut. Because even though he had a great team behind him and a robust and fast car, he proved to be really good. I can add that it was one of the reasons why I turned on the TV and watched the Grands Prix”.


And what did he feel while sitting in front of the TV?


"I missed something".


So could he come back?


"No. Nein. Nope. In how many languages do I have to say it?”


So no sensational announcements.


"I would actually like to say one thing".




"Merry Christmas to all".


Fernando Alonso, two-time Formula 1 World Champion, will be back in a Renault next year. This was reported on Monday 10 December 2007 on the Spanish rider's official website. The news thus becomes official, after the international press had widely anticipated it, also providing rumors about the record salary that awaits Alonso. The amount of the three-year salary should in fact be around 100.000.000 euros, making the Spaniard the highest paid driver in the history of Formula 1. The Spaniard has agreed to return to Renault, however obtaining a release clause which after one year will allow him, if he wanted, to move to Ferrari.


"It's a great team supported by very important companies. It's a team that knows how to win".


Fernando Alonso writes on his website talking about Renault, in clear controversy with McLaren. The former World Champion therefore returns to the team with which he won two titles, after the troubled season with McLaren. Comebacks are difficult in Formula 1, he says, but sometimes they happen. Fernando Alonso therefore returns to Renault, a year after the already sensational divorce, to go to McLaren. An important operation, worth several million euros: sixty, according to Spanish rumors. Even a hundred, according to the English. It depends on how long this new love will be: one year, or three. Certainly the Spaniard will earn 30.000.000 euros per season, for a one-year contract with an option for a second (and a possible third).


"They never know what to give me, because they say I have everything and so for Christmas they decided to give me Alonso".


Flavio Briatore comments jokingly, happy that his pilot is back.


"At the end of last year we split up and neither we nor him won again. Now by coming back together we hope to start winning again".


And the driver is also happy, who will have the debutant son of the Brazilian, Nelson Piquet Jr, as a partner (and for Giancarlo Fisichella now Force India really remains as his last chance to stay in the paddock). Everyone has underlined the super-engagement, but Briatore wants to emphasize the human side:


"He's not coming back for the money, other teams had offered him more, but because he's convinced he's going home".


Now only one uncertainty remains for Alonso:


"I hope the other teams are not too ahead and fast, and I will have to have a perfect season. But we have to take it one step at a time: first put the car on the track, then present ourselves at the first Grand Prix with the best car possible".


And in the meantime, Max Mosley, president of the FIA, confesses to having breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the 2007 season.


"Fortunately McLaren lost the World Drivers' Championship".


Kimi Raikkonen's triumph resolved a situation which, due to the spy story, would have created enormous difficulties for the entire circus. For this reason, Mosley admits that he felt relieved after the Finn's triumph at the wheel of Ferrari.


"If instead one of the two McLaren drivers had won there would always have been a question mark".


And speaking of Ferrari, on Tuesday 18 December 2007 the president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, summons the media for the final party.


"Luckily the original won, the copy was beaten. The triumph of Made in Italy, in the face of counterfeiting".


If he were speaking in Confindustria one might think of the famous Chinese fakes, but as head of Ferrari the dig can only be aimed at Ron Dennis and his McLaren, the team that he tried so hard to imitate and lost anyway, which in 2007 has greatly enraged Montezemolo, who appeared, at the traditional dinner before Christmas in Maranello, fitter than ever, proud of the triumphs (sporting and economic) of his company, and unleashed. Having returned from a day of meetings around Italy, a legacy of countless presidencies, he sat down at the table and speaking from the heart (when Ferrari is involved the opposite can never happen), he has no mercy. President, the triumph has not erased the anger...


"The double triumph, for Raikkonen and in the constructors, was beautiful. An enormous satisfaction, in our sixtieth year, after a very tough season, the best victory of my long management, also because in many ways it was unexpected. In June, after Canada, with that gap, few would have bet on it. But the wound remains. Let's say that we at Ferrari were good, we built a car for ourselves and more than half for the others".


McLaren, however, apologized a few days ago.


"The apology seems a little late to me, I would have expected it much sooner. And then let's tell the truth: if there hadn't been a benefactor who warned us about the photocopies this summer, who warned us that all that mountain of documents belonging to us had been found in his hands, nothing would have been known and McLaren would have won by deception. We were aware of the boycott, of the dust, but not of such a serious story. So absurd that at first I suspected that the Englishman was a mythomaniac. Instead he saved us".


Suppose Ron Dennis now comes in person to ask for forgiveness.


"He's too good a friend of Todt, he would go to him, he wouldn't come to me. Jokes aside, I don't even forget the first FIA pronouncement, that of July 26th, the worst moment of my season. If Ferrari hadn't brought out certain evidence it knew it had, it would have ended up with tarallucci and wine. McLaren would have gotten away with it".


Ferrari and also Mercedes.


"I am also president of Fiat, so for the sake of my country I won't speak. I am amazed at Mercedes' behavior, but I remain silent. In fact, I take refuge in a joke: I'm proud that the Ferrari school is so appreciated in England and Germany".


In any case, Raikkonen triumphed in the end.


"It was an act of justice. Another mistake: the team was penalized and not the riders. The horse is drugged, but the jockey still wins. Incredible".


For 2008, McLaren has given extensive guarantees to the FIA; blocked the development of the Ferrari line. Max Mosley canceled the February 14th retrial.


"Yes, I am convinced that at least the color will be different. I don't expect a red McLaren. Let's talk about something else, which is better. At least you could have taken Alonso away from McLaren. A great rider, but I'm too happy with ours. Raikkonen speaks little and wins a lot, keep going. He wants to stay in Ferrari for life, he can do it. For years we agonized over the fact that Schumacher didn't learn Italian and he continued to triumph. Now there is Raikkonen who is not very talkative: the important thing is that he continues to go strong on the track. He never complains, he is courageous, correct, helpful. A phenomenon, as Schumacher had predicted to me".




"Apart from the traffic lights in Canada, when he didn't win, it was only our fault. Already in 2006, with Schumacher at his side, he had been very good. He drives for Ferrari and not for himself, a fundamental skill. We triumphed because we are a team, McLaren is not. And now we can also afford a test driver like Schumacher. Furthermore, from March there will be a more full-time president, given that I am leaving Confindustria. In Maranello they will see me more often. But don't worry: I have already decided that I will leave in 2021. I'm leaving the top, too much stress".


Autosport, the English magazine, declared: Hamilton best driver, McLaren car of the year.


"The English never miss an opportunity to demonstrate their lack of sportsmanship. The best car is the one that wins. The Ferrari".


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