From Tuesday 11 to Friday 14, 2000, all Formula 1 teams that just came home from the Italian trip, the Republic of San Marino Grand Prix, meet at Silverstone for a test session, before the fourth round of the Championship, which will take place on the same track, for the British Grand Prix. Except for Ferrari, Prost, Minardi and Arrows, which will let their drivers drive alternatively, all the other teams will use two cars for the tests. These are crucial days specially to gain confidence with the electronic restrictions, which include the sensors that regulate the speed of the car through the pit lane. The purpose of the change during the season is to prevent the drivers from using traction control. Ferrari team principal, Jean Todt, the day after the third consecutive win of Michael Schumacher for the championship, in view of the tests on British soil, states that beyond the restrictive rules on electronics:
"Ferrari will have to work to maintain the reliability demonstrated to date. In particular, these electronic innovations could put our engines in crisis. There is still a lot to do to achieve the results we must expect, to be protagonists to the end in such a difficult world championship".
In Silverstone, Barrichello and Schumacher will drive the F1-2000 alternately; meanwhile in Italy, Luca Badoer will work at both the Fiorano and Vairano circuit, to gain information about the restrictions:
“We have to make another improvement, such as in past years, when we started the season badly and we made progress to close the gap. I don’t know if the improvement will be as big as at the beginning of the season, since we have such a good car available, however, we will certainly get something more, I am convinced. We already have some very promising news that we will try in the coming weeks on the track, or in the wind tunnel. In short, I am confident that our Ferrari can grow further ".
In particular, with direct reference to the next Silverstone appointment and news in the electronic field, the sports manager explains:
"It will be interesting to see what kind of effect these novelties will have. Worried? No, indeed: I think it is right".
And here is the detail of a chat with Mosley:
"He explained to me why such a decision was reached. We have arrived at a sophistication such that it is now difficult to make a thorough inspection of the cars. So, it’s important to put us in an optimal condition to be able to perform these tests on electronics. The latter, you know, can help you find a particular performance, playing with some parameters. Making the electronics less sophisticated, performance will decrease. We will do these tests this week just to check these changes".
Leaving aside the regulatory aspects, Todt does not forget the open game with McLaren:
"I never had any doubts about their potential. If anything, I’m terrified because in any race we might have problems. Here you can never take anything for granted. The road is still tough, but these three wins in a row will stimulate us to work even harder. Now we need to focus on the next appointment".
On the first day of testing, Rubens Barrichello has a large hematoma in the inguinal area of the right leg, a bad memory of the problem he had in Imola with the seat belts. The Brazilian, however, is ready to get back in the car, as he himself had pointed out before leaving Imola. Rubens has a well-defined goal in the head, to stand up to Michael Schumacher, undisputed ruler of the first three seasonal races:
"Everyone in life has what they deserve, and if Michael has reached certain levels, it has happened because he has worked so hard, and well, for many years. Now the time has come for him to reap the fruits, but I have made many sacrifices too, and I am willing to make more to reach ever higher levels. It’s nice to know that I’ll have to confront him, who is now the number one driver, in order to aim for certain results".
With regard to the problem accused by the Paulista on Sunday, Ferrari says that the exact cause was a not sufficiently tight buckle, which was then completely relaxed after Barrichello had tried to solve the trouble in the race. The belts were fine. In contrast to Schumacher’s victories, Rubens had to deal with reliability problems in Brazil, and the boredom just described at Imola. Nevertheless, the Ferrari driver wants to continue to have a positive mindset:
"I know I can still fight for the World Championship. The important thing is not to give up, and I never give up. To become the best I have to beat Michael, my teammate: there could not be a greater motivation".
During the first day of work at Silverstone, to get familiar with the new restrictions, here is that curiously the speedometer to check the speed at the pits, seen for example on the Jaguar, is also on the car of Eddie Irvine. In reality, it seems that all the teams adapt quite easily to the new features: the engines keep the minimum well, the Benetton Supertec is regulated even at 3,800 rpm; the Ferrari at 3,950. The same cannot be said for the drivers, who several times lock in and out of the pits regardless of the level of experience, given that disadvantages of the kind happen to some more experienced drivers such as Olivier Panis, McLaren test driver, but also to the very young ones like Jenson Button on Williams. The first day of testing is devoted almost entirely to this news, because the bad weather does not give rest until late afternoon. On a wet track, the fastest driver is Barrichello, who runs in 1'35"377 and completes forty-two laps, working as far as possible on the set-up of his Ferrari. The Brazilian, who says he had no problems of any kind with the bruise in the leg, does even a spin but without consequences. Meanwhile, at Fiorano, Luca Badoer works hard on April 12 and 13, 2000, to adapt the F1-2000 in the best possible way to the new electronic limitations. Engine gasping, departures that leave little illusions, slow laps, a continuous change of gears from the first to the seventh and vice versa. Long pit stops followed by fleeting appearances on the track, a few laps at a time. All seasoned by rain. In short, for the former driver of Minardi it is an intense day at the wheel of the car with chassis number 198, which at Imola had acted as a forklift. The best time is achieved in the morning of April 13 with a dry track, in 1'02"816, while in the wet Badoer marks a time of 1'08"309. In total fifty-three laps, with the end of the tests only at 8:20 p.m.. Waiting to take the place of Panis, Mika Hakkinen can say that he took off a weight from his stomach after finally conquering the first points of his season in Imola, where finishing in second position he gained six points:
"Being able to finish the race at Imola was a good thing: during the Grand Prix the car was fast enough to win, and being able to travel over three hundred kilometres suggested some ideas to improve it".
The optimistic vision of the World Champion certainly cannot disregard the umpteenth trouble, this time of electronics, which risked making him retire in the middle of the race. But also the fact that on this occasion his ten cylinders is back to work is interpreted by Mika as a positive signal:
"Sure, I could have won, but I also have to keep in mind that I could still stay at zero. When the engine went down my heart jumped in my throat, I immediately thought it was over. On the other hand I knew that this would be a difficult season, but now we can at least enjoy a decent reliability".
The failures that happened in this very early part of the season have obviously left some aftermath. Ron Dennis, for example, has no difficulty in admitting, urged by those who ask him why Hakkinen did not attack more decisively in the crucial moments of the race, that he was targeted by problems. It is understandable that, in these circumstances, there may be some psychological reluctance to attack deeply. Another sentence that leaves some doubt is the one that the World Champion in charge pronounces to explain why after the defeat of Interlagos he renounced to the tests at Silverstone, held a few days later by the Woking team:
"I did not participate in the last practice session because it was too cold at Silverstone and under such conditions I would not have been able to get any useful information. I go on track to practice, but only if it is useful to the development of the car, certainly not to train my body".
The bad mood that reigns at McLaren can only be driven away by a victory, which would be even more valuable if conquered at Silverstone, on the home track of the team. Hakkinen has a clear objective:
"Twenty-four points are many, especially because beating a guy like Schumacher is not easy but I do not discourage, now that there is an acceptable reliability, we have to do everything to end up in front of Michael as soon as possible. These days at Silverstone we will have important news with which to try to pull out all the potential of our car".
The McLaren driver, despite the three victories of Ferrari, on the other hand is not at all convinced that the F1-2000 is superior to his MP4/15, indeed:
"In close comparison the McLaren was slightly faster, at least until the step below broke".
On July 11, 1999, at 2:03 p.m. Schumacher returns to the track where he suffered the most serious injury of his career, which cost him the opportunity to fight for the title in 1999. So perhaps the German will have some flashbacks retracing the Stowe curve, where the accident occurred. To understand how he is preparing his return on this track, the words of two drivers who lived that incident may be useful: Eddie Irvine, his former teammate from 1996 to 1999, and Oliver Panis, also a victim of a serious accident in Montreal in 1997, in which he reported a fracture of both legs. Irvine has no doubts, and explains:
"But what is the problem? I don’t see any, for him it’s like another circuit. After all, nothing happened to him, he just broke his leg. It happens to many. No need to exaggerate a fracture".
Less definitive, but substantially on the same line, Oliver Panis:
"For me Schumacher’s trouble was double. Yet, I’m sure Michael will be quiet here. After the crash in Canada, I filmed at Magny-Cours. Yes, I had some doubts. I said to myself: if I pass the first curve flat, it will mean that nothing happened. It was like that. As the fractures have risen, so in my mind there is no trace of that fearful incident. At Magny-Cours, after three laps on good times, I went back to the box thinking: yes, it’s all back to normal. This does not mean that we - drivers - are Martians. It is not so. But after an accident the recovery phase becomes for us a period in which we take great care of our body, we rebuild it day after day, we recover the forces, the form, the balance. Everything as before. Indeed, better, because there is more anger. Remember Michael in Malaysia? That’s why the appointment that awaits Michael here, the first and all the subsequent steps to the Stowe, will not represent anything special".
"That’s what he said. But yes, maybe as I did in Montreal, going back to the same spot the first time, in the verification lap of the car, at low speed, he will give it a look. But it will be a moment. Then, from the next lap, open gas, he will feel that everything is in place, in him and in the car. And he will not think about it anymore".
The interested party replies as follows:
"I feel much stronger today than I used to. What happened to me last year in England is an accident that could have occurred anywhere, because when you have a brake problem the name of the track counts little".
The fear of not being the same as before surpassed him about forty days after the fear, going back to the wheel of his Ferrari at Mugello and getting immediately some important lap times. Now, he can also smile and look optimistically at Silverstone, a circuit on which he has also already won in 1998, following a masterful performance in the rain, and the controversial stop&go taken for granted during the last lap after cutting the chequered flag. Meanwhile, from Geneva, while the drivers continue their work in Britain, news leaks of a resounding back-pedalling by the Federation regarding restrictions on electronics. Nothing official, except that, when the mechanics receive the rumour, they begin to disassemble warning leds, speedometers embedded in the steering wheel and other frivolities. The tests are also characterised by two curious episodes: at the green light, Jacques Villeneuve hits an ill-fated fox that is just in trajectory at the Copse curve; then, just before 5:00 p.m., the end of the tests is marked by a red flag that no one, among those who are on the track, can explain. Finally, a hail storm forces everyone to end the day and return to the hotel. Barrichello, on the second and last day of testing, still focuses on the set-up, but only with rain tyres, and at the end of the session he says:
"A good day, although the wet track never allowed me to run with a perfectly dry background. Only in the second I could use, but without pushing, grooved tyres, while in the last one I was stopped by the red flag".
The fastest time was set by Ralf Schumacher, who ran in 1'30"288, ahead of Pedro Diniz on Sauber, and Barrichello. On April 13, 2000 the indiscretion becomes official. The FIA restores the speed control in the pit lane, but the other restrictions implemented - the changes to the parameters on the valve butterflies, the position of the electronic accelerator and more - will remain in force. Regardless of the turnaround, not all the teams manage to adapt with the same speed to the umpteenth change. In fact, if in top teams like Ferrari and McLaren there are about fifty technicians who deal with electronic programs, in smaller teams these are just three. For the latter, therefore, more time is needed to complete the work. In any case, the test day could certainly not be wasted. Michael Schumacher, who takes the place of the Brazilian, dominates as he likes, records good times, completes fifty laps and at the end of the session declares:
"Ferrari is doing very well. We tried wet and dry. I think we will be competitive in the Grand Prix too. It was very difficult to practice because there were always red flags that broke the rhythm".
On the speed limiter, he says:
"I am very happy. This return improves safety. The abolition of that control introduced certain risks that it was absurd to run with so much technology. In 2000 it is unacceptable to take steps back: Barrichello told me that he risked a contact because focused on the steering wheel to watch the speed, while a commissioner, not seen, signalled him to stop immediately. Imagine the episode of Rubens in the wake of Coulthard in Imola: the collision would have been certain. In addition, there are younger drivers, accustomed to using it forever, who without this device would have been in great difficulty. I am satisfied".
Already focused on running?
"Not yet, but I’m getting there. Besides, I was influenced by the accident. But the concentration will reach the right level next weekend".
The incident to which the German driver refers is the one that occurs to Ricardo Zonta around 11:15 a.m., just at the Stowe corner, the same spot where he crashed. The driver of the BAR comes out unscathed from the multiple overturning of his car, exiting the track in front of the central grandstand. According to Craig Pollock’s team technicians, the cause is the failure of the right front suspension. Back in the pits from the hospital, Zonta walks with difficulty and expresses himself in monosyllables, stretching his right hand with the base of the index hinged:
"I’m fine, but it was terrible. I was trying the last specification of the engine that Honda provided us and I was able to achieve excellent progress in the few laps run under the flood. A pity because the car was perfect. The cut? I procured it trying to get out from under the car that landed upside down. If it rains, I’ll run again, otherwise it will be Villeneuve’s turn".
After seeing the images of the accident, Schumacher says that he rushed with his brother Ralf on the spot, and then went to the hospital to wish Zonta a speedy recovery, to whom he says:
"It’s like they gave you a second life".
With the journalists, instead, he talks about the dynamics of the accident and what he felt at that time, in reviewing the images:
"The footage from the circuit manager’s implant was a shock. I saw the BAR lose the right front wheel at the detachment of the Hangar and turn off track several times, overturning. When the nose of the car was near the protective tyres, the car soared, made a turn again and flew over the protections landing upside down. Awesome. Zonta was lucky, nothing more than a small wound. The safety of the cars is good. And the circuit, at that point, has been improved. It means we can stop here and look around before we ask for more improvements. Today and for a few days Charlie Whiting is in America but we are already in touch to understand together how to proceed in view of the next Grand Prix".
Was it the plastic cover around the tyres that triggered the spike?
"No, it started a moment earlier, caused by friction on the gravel. The new solution was of great help to save Zonta. For other changes before the Grand Prix I will have to talk to Whiting. It is not heavy work, details: I think it will be possible".
With such modifications would this incident have been less serious?
"I don’t know. Certainly, the tyres are very close to the concrete wall".
Then Michael asks those present:
"But at that point, just beyond the net, are there people during the Grand Prix?"
The answer is no, only a few commissioners because the spectators are in the grandstands. He replies:
"Good, otherwise it would have been a massacre".
Same place: other similarities between his crash and Zonta’s?
"None. Rather it reminded me of Brundle's crash in 1996 in Melbourne, when the car took off; then I remember the accidents of Patrese and Fittipaldi. I observe that today there are many fewer takeoffs of cars. However, in those situations the disaster has been touched. If, for example, a tyre had detached from the car it would have been very serious".
Moved to Vairano following the tests of Fiorano, Luca Badoer works with the sixty F1-2000 covering fifty-four laps, for a total of two hundred and twenty kilometres. They changed the circuit due to the fact that its peculiarities are comparable to a natural wind tunnel, useful to confirm the data collected experimentally. Badoer’s program includes another day of testing in Pavia, and then he will return to Fiorano where he will have to perform routine checks on the cars that will be used for the race weekend. On April 14, 2000, the last day of testing, the test session on the British soil does not start well for Ferrari, which in a Grand Prix simulation with Michael Schumacher, must stop on the first lap for an electrical failure. At the end of the day, however, the German driver smiles, as he has done the best time of the day in 1'25"480. The Ferrari driver is also the only one to complete a simulation with the new electronics with the three sensors less. Three stints of twenty laps, interspersed with long checks, with Michael waiting to check the times of the other drivers. Under the same conditions, the Ferrari is unreachable, the McLaren instead does not shine for consistency of performance neither with Hakkinen nor with Coulthard. The test driver Panis is faster than the two drivers, an interesting fact, because the French driver drove with the latest evolution of the Mercedes engine, which is assumed to make its appearance during the British Grand Prix. Before returning to Silverstone, the drivers can enjoy a few days off, as well as Luca Badoer, who, on April 15, decides with a short test in Fiorano the two F1-2000 cars to be sent to England (the forklift is approved only the following Thursday). The single-seater of Barrichello, (the chassis number 199) is tested in the morning, with ten laps completed without any hitch; that of Schumacher (chassis number 200), always accomplishes ten laps in the afternoon. After that, four simulations of fuel refuelling, but no tyre changes. Apparently, for the mechanics of Ferrari there is something to improve in the specific operation. At the end of the tests, Ferrari leaves the Modena track to Minardi, who tests with a new titanium gearbox that will bring a significant saving in weight. However, at Silverstone, an important change will not be seen, but will be taken the week after, at the tests in Barcelona. In the fourteen laps performed (the best of which in 1'03"990) by Mazzacane there is a considerable increase in torsional stiffness, and an improvement in the data related to the driveability and acceleration coming out of the curves. On Monday, April 17, 2000, in the usual hotel at the airport of Heathrow, a meeting takes place between the FIA and the teams to finally reach a meeting point as far as electronics are concerned. Not surprisingly, the meeting is attended by the heads of the electronic department of each team, whose goal is to restore the software, or at least suspend the policy of the Federation of continuous changes during the season. In London the weather is not the best: it is cold, there is even some snow in the area of Silverstone and a climate that does not suit a Formula 1 race.
It remains a mystery the reason why the most important of the British races, which has always been held in July, this time it is scheduled in April, with all the unknowns about the weather conditions. However, this does not prevent the start of the work requested by Schumacher on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, at the Stowe curve, the scene of the terrible accident of Ricardo Zonta. To improve safety, a row of tyres is added in height and two in width, for a total of five. As for the software issue, the automatic speed limiter in the deceleration lane in the pits can also be used at Silverstone, where in practice the limit will be 60 km/h, and in the race of 80 km/h. This is only on the condition that, at the same time, the rear light starts to flash when it rains and that the hatch - that gives access to the nozzle where the fuel is placed - is opened. In this way, the FIA believes that if the speed limiter is used in turns as traction control, it will be immediately unmasked by the flashing and the flap. As for the rest, everything remains as had been set by the FIA in the mid-March circular. Only in the future will further limitations be introduced on exchange and differential electronics. Three days later, the teams are back at Silverstone to take part in the British Grand Prix. And Michael Schumacher obviously thinks about winning:
"Why not, I consider it within my reach, like pole position. I will run to win. In the first three races we have different circumstances. But I have always been competitive. And in Imola I saw that I fought with the opponents. On the other hand the margin of advantage is such that I would settle for the six points of the second place. Fans do not fear. I absolutely aim to win the Grand Prix. Tests have told me that the Ferrari is strong".
The McLaren car has shown to be fast, but for the moment has not won:
"It is slower or less reliable: I am surprised after what I had seen in the past years. I hope it will be repeated, even if the tests went well for them. At Imola we also won because we had different tyres. We, for now, are the best. At least to make the most of all the opportunities. The game remains open. I’m still missing many races and many points to reach the mathematical certainty of the World Championship. I’m always motivated even without forgetting the points, which are never enough: I remember all the runs up to the last race, the formidable one of 1994. No superiority complex: I will face every race with the same preparation, until the end".
The only problem remains the flying lap in qualifying:
"It’s always better to start from the front row. But in the end Ferrari wins. That’s not the problem. It is when you have too many cars around, when you part back the possibility of accident, to damage a wheel is very high. I don’t fear the confusion: I observe that it is dangerous. Pole lifts you from all these hassles that can have a significant weight in every race. It’s easier to win a Grand Prix from the front. Even at Silverstone I’ll do anything for pole position. But I’ve tried even before: something, small or big mistakes had always slowed me down at the right time. I am serene, even if I will not succeed, it seems to me that the Ferrari has shown how it is possible to win even if it starts from behind".
And on Rubens Barrichello, after the third Grand Prix in Ferrari, he comments:
"Fast, as I expected. He is very good. Unfortunately, he did not manage to finish his home Grand Prix, for him it was hard. In Imola he had a trivial problem. I’m sorry: I’m sure Ferrari would have hit another 1-2. We work well together; he is of great help to the team. He is fast, but luckily not faster than me. I knew he would do well with this Ferrari. We’ll see in the future if he can beat me".
Regarding the Brazilian driver, technical director Ross Brawn reveals a background on the Imola race:
"The other Sunday we mistakenly put in the car of Barrichello, at the stop, an excessive amount of fuel, so much so that he finished with twenty litres more than due, and at each lap lost three-four tenths. It was because of the time system we use for refuelling".
Brawn also speaks about electronics and changes:
"In practical terms, stopping a certain type of electronics will not lead to any difference in driving nor to the performance of the cars. However, lacking the automatic control of the carburetion, the consumption will increase a little, not much, at least for us. And contrary to what some colleagues think, I believe that there will be no increase in breaks".
In addition, on the F1-2000 few obvious changes are brought, mostly adaptations to the circuit. Even the engines are the same as Imola: one upgraded for qualifying and one standard for the race, with three hundred laps of maximum rotation difference. If the Maranello team approaches the weekend with certainty, on the McLaren-Mercedes front there are thick fogs. It is difficult to know if the V10 engine tested last week, and that will be mounted on the MP4/15, is a new version or an evolution of what competed in the first three races. According to internal voices in the paddock it seems that they have worked on reliability, rather than performance. The first question to be asked to Norbert Haug, the great head of Mercedes, is: what happens if on Sunday Michael Schumacher wins? Will McLaren have to surrender? Haug replies:
"No way. Remember what happened in 1998? Hakkinen after Monte Carlo had 22 points on Schumacher, yet the two arrived at the penultimate race of the World Championship, that of the Nürburgring, with the same amount of points and, moreover, in qualifying the Ferrari drivers occupied the first row. Then in the race Hakkinen took flight and no one saw him anymore. This is not the first time that we have been in a delicate phase, and we have shown that we know how to solve it. Hakkinen has hit all the pole positions so far and Coulthard started twice in front of Michael. Not only that: in Imola if Barrichello had not kept him behind for a long time, even David could have fought for success".
And Mika Hakkinen, on a possible fourth consecutive victory of the Ferrari driver, says:
"For us the important thing is to win the title, not so much the individual races. It would not be a tragedy if Schumacher won here as well".
A success that, the Finnish warns, Schumacher will have to conquer:
"Michael was pretty quick in practice last week, but I’m not at all worried about that: I don’t know what condition his Ferrari was in, concerning the type of tyres and the amount of fuel, but I know what my McLaren was in and I’m cool".
He says this even if the tests of the previous week did not leave him fully satisfied:
"True, I wasn’t 100% happy with the balance of my car because time and track changed all the time and we did too few laps in the dry, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be competitive this weekend because there’s enough time to adjust the car. I cannot guarantee that mine is the best Formula 1 car, but I know the professionalism of the people who work in the team and I remain confident".
Mika admits that all the defeats have left a sign:
"When you reap less than you sow, you feel a sense of frustration. Anyway, my philosophy is to always look forward in a positive way".
On Friday, April 21, two days before Easter, a torrential rain welcomes the drivers for the first two free practice sessions. Pat Symonds, Benetton’s technical director, summarises the day as follows:
"It’s been at least 2,000 years since the car had such a bad Friday".
The decision to anticipate the Grand Prix in April proves to be unwise: Silverstone sinks into the mud, the drivers go off track, the organisers suffer considerable economic damage because the police force them to close the parking lots, condemned for the mud, and refund the tickets to those who will not be able to reach the racetrack. The accounts are soon done: for the qualifications of Saturday forty thousand coupons and about twenty thousand parking spaces were sold, with prices ranging from twenty to sixty-five pounds; if at least a quarter of the fans did not feel up to the appeal, either on foot or by car - parked miles away - the Autodrome should give the money back. Michael Schumacher, who stayed at the pits during the first half hour of free practice, spared from the flood, runs only on wet track, and it is only twentieth. The German is peremptory:
"Two hours which are a waste of time, these free practices have served no purpose. With the water so high, it is useless to talk about setups. It would have taken a tractor. This is a track that does not drain, where the water remains very high, where you do not even recognize the driver who is in front of you or do not understand if the gap is ten or a hundred metres".
Schumacher’s attack is reinforced during an evening meeting with Whiting, the race director, in which all the drivers participate. The Ferrari driver and Hakkinen, the most illustrious spokesmen, have no doubts: in their opinion, if the rain is of such intensity, the Safety-Car will be necessary. Then away with the examples. Schumacher tells:
"At a certain point I was behind Herbert, who struggled to keep his Jaguar on track. If he spun, I would have ended up on him".
Hakkinen is not less dramatic:
"In some places you see nothing. When you realise that you are wrong, it is too late. We hope that nothing bad happens in the race".
Jacques Villeneuve was about to hit Coulthard, standing on the sides of the track with the jeep that had to tow him away bogged down on the grass:
"I found him suddenly, I saw him before the yellow flags, if he was in the middle of the track, I would have caught him".
"With Coulthard still, it took them six minutes to suspend the session, I missed the flags. To me the rain is fine because it reduces the gap with the strongest, but here on the straight line, at 200 km/h, the car waterplans".
But Ron Dennis defends the organisers and attacks the FIA:
"Do you want an unpredictable race? Here it is served. In April it is always like this here. What are the culprits of the organisers who spent billions on security?"
In addition to the subject of rain, Coulthard and Villeneuve bring to Whiting’s attention the start of the San Marino Grand Prix of Schumacher, where the Ferrari driver had closed the trajectory to Coulthard to avoid being overtaken, a manoeuvre which the Canadian did not particularly like; he is supported in his attack also by Coulthard and Irvine. After the opinion of all the drivers, only Alesi lines up in favour of Schumacher; anyway, everything ends with a joke by Ralf Schumacher, which brings a good mood in the room. Going back to the free practice, Ferrari is forced to use a set up with wings at the highest incidence, and towards the end of the second session Barrichello runs with a completely wet set-up. Schumacher, on the other hand, does so only in the last few laps, preferring first a very loaded aerodynamic set-up, but a compromise on mechanical adjustments. With such an uncertain climate, according to Rubens Barrichello, the candidates for pole and victory increase: besides Ferrari and McLaren, in fact, we will have to consider the Jordans, the Benetton of Fisichella, or even the Jaguars of Irvine and Herbert. The Brazilian still aims for pole position, regardless of the track conditions. And if Schumacher is shipwrecked in the rain and runs very little, he does what he has to do, even if at the end of the day he is seventh in the total count of the times. Rubens declares that:
"I did really well in the wet, I did not take unnecessary risks, because more than the flying lap I was looking for the feeling with the car. I couldn’t work properly at first because of a hydro-driving problem. In the end, the track conditions became almost impossible, but the Ferrari had already improved a lot. It was important to run with lots of water, because there is the risk that the rain will continue for the race. The tyres can be a question mark because with the water here the temperature drops, and the tyres do not heat. For the pole it will be decisive to guess the pit exit. A lightening, a slight improvement of the asphalt, are situations to be exploited to the maximum. Ralf Schumacher threw himself on the track with the grooved tyres at the beginning, in a truce of rain. His 1'30"0 would have been enough, if the flood had arrived soon after, instead of in the last minutes. The car satisfies me, with a bit of luck and with the right time choice I see myself in the first position. After all, I took my first pole, in 1994 at Spa with Jordan-Hart, under similar circumstances".
On Saturday, Rubens' good feelings are reflected during the qualifying session. The Brazilian takes pole position, with a time of 1'25"703, three thousandths ahead of the Jordan of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and thirty-eight thousandths ahead of Mika Hakkinen, who composes the second row together with his teammate Coulthard. Michael Schumacher observes the other Ferrari from a distance, in fifth position, flanked by the young Williams driver Jenson Button. After the flood that also accompanies the morning practice, during qualifying there is an intermittent rain that characterises the session that sees the bleak empty grandstands, with only twenty thousand spectators against the forty thousand expected. On the fourth lap of the first run, Schumacher gets the third time behind provisional poleman Frentzen and his brother Ralf. Shortly after, Hakkinen with a time of 1'29"638 sets the fastest time. But during the second run, in the middle of the session, it is Barrichello who leads the ranking. Then, Coulthard establishes the new limit, but he is immediately beaten by Jacques Villeneuve, who is still knocked out by the same Scottish, who runs in 1'27"874. With eighteen minutes to go there is again Schumacher, who re-establishes the hierarchies and lowers the time by half a second. Five minutes pass and Hakkinen arrives, who is only ninety-five thousandths better. But the evolution of the track is such that in the last minute everything changes: first Irvine, then Jos Verstappen, then Frentzen, but at the end comes Rubens Barrichello, who becomes the first driver to take pole position as Michael Schumacher’s teammate. A pole dedicated to those who love him:
"To those who believed that until now I had only had bad luck with Ferrari, that I could also be a winner, that having the same car as Schumacher I can achieve great results".
But also to those who love him badly:
"Like in Brazil, where someone wrote that I broke the Ferrari, a car that always reached the finish line before I got on it. Now people will take me more seriously, because this is a pole on the dry, real, not like those on the wet at Spa in 1994 and at Magny Cours last year, maybe brilliant, but definitely lucky".
And to those who always talk about Schumacher:
"Is there a problem if I win? Does it bother you? Everyone is asking me what I’m going to do for Michael: if he was seventeenth and I was first, what should I do, stop and wait for him? Why does his position matter more than mine? Montezemolo complimented me. He told me: go and win. And I will go, hoping to make a good start. And asking God for help".
A beaming man, floating in the clouds:
"I have something inside that bites me, that doesn’t let me know what to do. I am on pole with Ferrari, a great result, in a circuit where it is difficult to overtake. This is the first time I’ve had a real shot at winning a race. I want to jump for joy, but then I say: calm down, there are three hundred kilometres of running, a very long Sunday, with the rain announced. Tonight I have to sleep quietly. For the holidays there is time".
But the company remains:
"I’ve never taken a ride like this, the fastest of my life, beautiful, perfect. I had a great time".
Then he is reminded that this is the first time that a Schumacher’s teammate has taken pole:
"Really? I didn’t know. It will be thanks to my amulet. My sister Renata. She was present at Interlagos, and there it went wrong, but in the past she had always brought me luck. Only that she works a lot and since 1996 she had never been able to come to a Grand Prix. To help me, she took two weeks off. She will also be in Barcelona".
That is why he hugged her so long at the end of qualifying, before giving a kiss to his wife Silvana.
"When you’re radiant, you can’t control yourself. It’s the first time in my life that I’m competitive. I leave the group".
For many these qualifications were a lottery. What was your worst moment?
"I trembled several times. When I was in seventeenth place, I thought: if it starts to rain, it’s over. Then when I was in eleventh. But the worst, paradoxically, was when the pits told me that I was on pole. Cynical, on the radio: good, but there is still Hakkinen. And I held my breath, until I saw the yellow flags. Then I realised it was done".
Speaking of Hakkinen, the Finn let him pass with great fairness while Barrichello was in the middle of his flying lap:
"I thank him, he did not make me lose time. It is difficult to find such a correct driver. Others are clever: first they hinder you, then they apologise and say: I did not see you".
This year those who started on pole have never won.
"It’s not a guarantee. But so is Ross Brawn, the strategist. President Montezemolo was proud of me, I will not betray the trust of my fans and Ferrari. This pole is just a stage, the beginning".
Barrichello, are you wearing lucky red underwear?
President Montezemolo, who arrived at Silverstone just before the start of qualifying, is literally radiant at the end of the session. There is, however, to record a Schumacher in difficulty:
"True, but there’s a Ferrari in the lead and beating our opponents at home is exciting. I’m very happy, Barrichello deserved such a result. He was looking for it, he wanted it at all costs, we did not take him to be a tourist, for him it will be a great injection of confidence. For Schumacher nothing is compromised, the race is long, let’s see in what weather conditions we will run. Besides, if he’d taken an extra lap, he’d be in the front row, too. Don’t forget, we’re in the lead now. The way the World Championship is played, we could even settle for a situation like this. I hope that Frentzen will give us a hand, keeping Hakkinen behind. And then when Schumacher does not start in front, it is a good omen. He has to get points. If he gets ten, so much the better".
Here is one of the most important reading keys. With Schumacher on the run, the standings can also be managed. The German thinks so too, disappointed but not too much:
"I have to control Hakkinen, that’s all that matters to me. He’s right in front of me, I can see him well. If Barrichello wins, he gets a few points and I get the advantage. And then in a lottery like that, I could have finished tenth or fifteenth. That would have been a big problem. I don’t make any predictions, but starting in fifth place everything is still possible".
There remains the regret for that blurred turn of a breath, with the chequered flag appearing three seconds before it was needed. The German explains:
"I came out twenty seconds after Barrichello. I lost at least two with the red light at the pits, because Irvine was passing. Then in the first lap I didn’t want to force and ruin the tyres. In the second, in addition to not having a good set-up, I made two small mistakes, a bend closed too much and an off-track, so I could not make the third, the one that would have put me in the front row".
The first three drivers are enclosed in just thirty-eight thousandths. The last of these is Hakkinen, whose mood is not the best after losing for nothing the fourth pole in a row, right on the home track of the team. Hakkinen explains the disappointing result:
"The traffic undoubtedly hindered me, then there were the yellow flags that forced me to lift my foot from the accelerator twice, and finally my car did not have a perfect set-up. I was too slow in the area of the Club curve. A pity, because the pole was at hand and starting in front of everyone would have been great in case of a wet race, because it would have avoided visibility problems".
But the disappointment is limited to the official practices, because as soon as the speech slips on the race, the optimism of the World Championship is back to rise. To console him there is first of all the fact that Michael Schumacher was worse:
"This comforts me a bit, although I must admit that until now I have always been in front of him on Saturday, and you know how it ended. Could Barrichello block me for Michael’s comeback? Possible, but I have a precise strategy in mind: my McLaren is always very fast with a lot of fuel on board and I must be able to exploit this strength of ours. How? Trying to take the head at Turn 1".
According to Mika the strategy of a flying start could even work with a wet track:
"Last week I made several starts in the wet, I trained for a long time. Of course, I was alone, I started in the front row, not behind two other drivers. And here with the clouds of water that will form you do not mess around. I expect a crazy race, where anything can happen. I’ve never won here at Silverstone, I have to break the spell. I’m a bit worried about the car balance: after the first sector is not optimal. We need to improve".
Unlike Hakkinen, the new father Heinz-Harald Frentzen is more than satisfied, not hiding the fact that the birth of his firstborn gave him a special charge, in a Grand Prix that is also held a few hundred metres from the headquarters of Jordan, not a small advantage in a weekend affected by rain, because any spare parts can arrive immediately. Although the appointment for the pole that was missed by only three thousandths, the German does not despair:
"I am proud of this result, also because last week I was practically unable to test, but it is clear that the bad weather was our ally. With a dry track we are not yet at the level of Ferrari and McLaren".
A day to remember also for the home driver and debutant with high hopes, Jenson Button, fifth and for the second time in four races ahead of Ralf Schumacher in qualifying. Not bad for a rookie who has just turned twenty, and who has shown to be able to keep their cool even in difficult situations, such as when during free practice in the morning, finished with a spin, was centred by Irvine’s Jaguar, who went off-track in the same point. A setback that forced him to skip much of the tests, so that the mechanics could repair his car, but forced him to present himself at qualifying almost without having driven:
"It’s nice to be able to enter the first six after such a terrible day. I have to thank the team for the effort they have made and for planning perfect strategies. And it will be equally exciting to start next to Schumacher".
But there are other calculations that absolutely must not fail, those of the weather forecast for Sunday. At stake are the set-ups, the visibility, a track that can become a bar of soap, with confused race and busted hierarchies. Uncertainty seems to be the dominant word in terms of electronics. Suspects are wasted and now everyone sees flashing lights in the rear and openings of the petrol door for improper use of the speed limiter. They talk about Alesi, some have noticed a Jordan, others a Williams, but the FIA is silent and nothing official leaks.
Despite the rain that had fallen in the previous days, on Sunday, April 23, 2000, not a single drop of rain falls on the Silverstone circuit for all sixty laps of the race. At 1:00 p.m. the start; however, of the almost 130.000 spectators expected, only 90.000 are present on the grandstands. The reduced turnout is caused by a gigantic traffic jam that grips the access roads to the circuit, to the point that it takes from six to eight hours to get out of the queues of cars for twenty-five kilometres. Who is not already in the vicinity of the circuit at least two hours before the start, is able at best to attend the final stages of the race. Among the victims of a surreal disorganisation are also Joyce and Duncan Coulthard, parents of David, who can only watch the last eighteen laps. Hakkinen himself risks missing the morning warm up, having been stuck in traffic ten kilometres away from the track. Only thanks to the passage of a policeman on a motorcycle, the Finn manages to appear in time. A chaos due to the decision of the organisers to close in the days before all public parking and grassy lawns, reduced by bad weather to muddy stretches, and that led some fans to head to Silverstone already in the night. With the queues stopped, many people park their cars along the highway that leads from the M1 to Silverstone and continue on foot, where the distance is not excessive, despite the police, from 10:00 a.m. (three hours before the start), invites people by radio to stay at home. Max Mosley accuses the organisers, who in the face of two weeks of bad weather have done nothing to make the lawns-parking available in time. Organisers who will have to deal with ticket refunds and huge losses. Despite everything, the cars are ready on the grid to take part in the British Grand Prix. Barrichello and Frentzen start well from the first row; the two McLaren cars, chased by Michael Schumacher, struggle instead. The Ferrari driver joins Hakkinen on the outside, but he is rather determined not to give way to the opponent, tightening the trajectory and forcing Schumacher to raise his foot so as not to end up on the grass. The contact is avoided for a matter of centimetres. In doing so, Schumacher loses two positions to Button and Villeneuve, and in an attempt to overhaul the Canadian at Stowe, he is surprised at the next corner by his brother Ralf. After the first lap, Barrichello makes the pace ahead of Frentzen, Coulthard, Hakkinen, Button, Villeneuve and the Schumacher brothers, with Michael who is the author of a first lap to forget. Ralf, however, during the second lap, enters the points area by passing Villeneuve at Stowe. Frentzen, meanwhile, maintains close contact with Barrichello, and is followed closely by the McLaren.
In the first stage of the race, the first six drivers are enclosed in just three seconds, while Michael Schumacher goes crazy behind Villeneuve, failing to overtake him and to making himself dangerous. The pace of the BAR-Honda is so slow that even Jos Verstappen with the Arrows clings to the exhaust of the Ferrari. The leading group continues the compact race, but no one manages to attack the driver ahead, this up to the first series of pit-stops, inaugurated for the leading drivers by Frentzen, who stops on the twenty-fifth lap together with Ralf Schumacher. The next step is for Jenson Button, whose pit-stop is slightly slower than that of his teammate; a subtlety that puts him back on track behind Ralf, and therefore with a lost position. Barrichello’s first stint and the McLarens’ have been extended, which easily maintain the race pace of the Ferrari driver. Behind them, neither Villeneuve nor Schumacher stopped, momentarily fourth and fifth but very far from the head of the race, and with Frentzen approaching at great speed. The first real twist of the race comes at the moment when David Coulthard surprises Barrichello at Stowe, completing the overtaking even from the outside: the Ferrari seems to have a problem since Coulthard manages to escape away in a few bends. On the same lap, the thirtieth, Hakkinen goes to the pits for what will be his only stop. The Finn returns to the track behind Frentzen and the two Williams. Before making his stop, Coulthard records the fastest lap to make sure he holds the position at least on the Williams and Hakkinen. The Scotsman succeeds, since coming out of the pit lane is just behind Frentzen. At this point, with Villeneuve also back in the pits, in first and second position, but with zero stops left, there are Barrichello and Schumacher. The latter must push hard, because only then can he get rid of Villeneuve. Then, on lap 34, Rubens Barrichello spins at the Luffield corner, the last before the pit entrance. The Brazilian picks up the car and immediately returns to the pits, where the mechanics make refuelling and change tyres. Rubens, however, communicates that something is not working, and in fact he cannot start again. For the poleman of Saturday, the race ends with a withdrawal caused by a failure of the hydraulic system. The only Ferrari remaining in the race, that of Schumacher, sets record lap times before making a stop at the thirty-seventh lap.
The German returns to the track in sixth position, about fifteen seconds away from Hakkinen, fifth. In doing so, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, chased by Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher, leads the race. Jordan’s driver, however, as well as Williams' two, has an insufficient amount of fuel to get to the chequered flag without having to stop again. This means that with a sufficiently fast race pace, Michael Schumacher can still hope for the podium, while McLaren starts to see the possibility of a 1-2. First Frentzen, then Button and finally Ralf Schumacher make the second stop in the program, finding themselves respectively in fourth, sixth and fifth position: the two-stop strategy, therefore, is the least profitable. The faded victory is not the last disappointment for Frentzen, who all of a sudden can no longer change gears for a gear failure that is not new at Jordan. Both Ralf Schumacher and Button show it with ease, shortly after Jacques Villeneuve arrives, who climbs to sixth position. The problem worsens lap after lap, so much so that Frentzen can only return to the pits to decide his third retirement in four races. While leading the race Hakkinen tries in vain to worry Coulthard, gradually reducing the gap. The only ones that seem to be able to spice up a final race that seems to have little to say are Villeneuve and Trulli, fighting for the sixth position. The Italian finds what seems to be a great overtaking at turn 14, but in reality it is favoured by a gear failure that is also manifested on the BAR-Honda of the Canadian, who immediately after losing the position takes the pit lane to retire. Nothing else happens, and so, after three races spent watching their rivals triumph, McLaren reacts to Ferrari with the success of David Coulthard, who precedes Mika Hakkinen at the finish line. A result that decrees a fantastic McLaren 1-2 in Great Britain. In a somewhat unexpected way if you look at his race, Michael Schumacher gets a third place that allows him not to lose too many points in the drivers' standings compared to the two Silver Arrows, and at the same time to contribute to the constructors’ championship of Ferrari, still easily in the lead but with a reduced gap on the McLaren. The points area is completed by the Williams of Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button, constantly growing in his crackling start to the championship, and Jarno Trulli, who limits the damage for a Jordan still too unreliable. On the podium, to reward the winner there is an historic figure of the paddock, Ken Tyrrell, while to receive the trophy for the team there is Norbert Haug, who receives an inevitable champagne bath from his two drivers, with the collaboration of Michael Schumacher, appeared to be in a good mood once he got out of the car. Even before getting on the podium, in fact, Michael jokes with a cameraman throwing some water on his head before smiling friendly. In the press conference, as usual the first to speak is the winner, in this case David Coulthard, triumphant at Silverstone for the second year in a row:
"It was great, but also scary. There were 15 laps left, I had problems with the gearbox potentiometer, I started yelling at the car: no, please, you can’t do this to me. He must have listened to me, everything’s back to work. A fantastic result for the team to have both drivers on the podium, even better if in first and second position. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very happy to win here again after last year’s victory. It’s wonderful".
Coulthard, now second in the overall standings with fourteen points, twenty away from the leader Schumacher, is radiant:
"The history of the World Championship begins again. The gap from Schumacher remains wide, but if I win other races...".
Hakkinen is disappointed, despite the second consecutive place that allows him to climb to third position in the standings, with twelve points:
"I didn’t have a good balance with the car, also in the warm-up I ran a little for problems on the car, and this certainly didn’t help. I couldn’t try the setup in the warm up, and I guessed: I didn’t get it right. Having a good run in the morning, although short, can sometimes be crucial. Six points are fine, ten were better. I play it all in Barcelona: it’s my race. If I don’t win there, it’s really hard. The start really decided the Grand Prix. I was unlucky, because I lost grip while accelerating. So I found myself with Coulthard on the right and Michael on the left. At that moment I thought, should I lift my foot? I’m sorry about Schumacher, but I decided to keep him down. Then it went the way it did".
Michael Schumacher - out of points for much of the race, although in the end, Barrichello’s strategy and retirement allowed him to climb the podium again - is only angry with himself:
"My start was good, I saw a gap next to Hakkinen, I thought I had more grip, I tried to go outside, on the grass, to pass, but I did not count that the last days had rained a lot and the grass was wet and slippery. With this manoeuvre not only didn’t I pass Hakkinen, but I lost three more positions, finding myself eighth".
He is not mad at Villeneuve, who kept him from lap 2 to lap 33:
"He made his race, he could not give me way. I was faster, but I had a load of more fuel. And in these conditions it is practically impossible to overtake".
Nor does he resent his brother Ralf, who overtook him in the first round without hesitation:
"A tough duel, but his behaviour was more than legitimate. I didn’t think he was so tough: usually you learn from the older brothers".
Not even the outcome of the Grand Prix shakes Schumacher too much, as according to him the main rival for the title remains Hakkinen rather than Coulthard, unless the Scotsman remains on these standards. The Finn, for the first time this year, reduces the gap from Ferrari, although it is only two points:
"The way the race started, it’s okay. I ran the first three races without problems, not this one, but if it ends with so little damage I have to be happy. I can still live quiet".
Jean Todt is less diplomatic than his driver:
"I would have preferred to see a Ferrari win and I am very sorry for Barrichello. But if it must be a McLaren to triumph, better be that of Coulthard".
A weekend, then, dismissed with minimal damage, but that still leaves a little alarm for the new break up of Barrichello. Todt does not hide the apprehension:
"Because reliability is paramount, and we know very well that when we don’t get the points, they go to McLaren. We work a lot, but it is never enough to improve the quality. The fight is long, tight. We knew that our opponents are not dead, we must not let go. We are competitive on every circuit, you will also see it in Barcelona. We are no longer afraid of anyone, but it is necessary to insist, fight more and more".
A sad abandonment, with the bitterness in his mouth for Barrichello, who felt that something was wrong with his Ferrari since Saturday night, but at the time when he expected the team to pay him homage for pole with the forklift usually available for Schumacher, it was not so. Jean Todt explains:
"The reserve car is up to Schumacher in all races. But if there is a need, it passes to Rubens. This need did not occur".
But at the same time, he tries to console him:
"He must not lose faith, but understand that he has a team that follows him and will give him a good car. At Silverstone he was very good at the start and until the time of retirement, he has no fault. This year not even here there are hierarchies defined in the team. His time will come".
Barrichello, on the other hand, would probably have liked to have been able to do a comparative test on two cars in the warm-up, and in case to turn on the reserve car. His car had problems since the first lap (the steering wheel was crooked, the car went in a different way in the curves to the right than those to the left) so, despite a good start, he then could not take off and found himself glued behind Frentzen, McLaren and Williams. The trouble at the plumbing was announced five laps before retiring, when Coulthard took advantage of it, surpassing him at Stowe. Rubens is disheartened:
"Something always happens. It seems that this car is angry with me. I’m not an unlucky man, but this year it seems that everything happens to me".
This time he did not cry like in Brazil. On the face of Barrichello there is only room for anger, anger for the great occasion faded, his Ferrari that ends in the mud when he is in the lead of the race, the victory, the first of his career, that slips away.
"There was something wrong with the set-up from the start of the race. I got off the track because of a plumbing failure, but that wasn’t the only inconvenience I had to endure. When I went to the spin line I had the gas door open, the car took a strange direction, the gears were blocked. But even before I had to fight with my Ferrari, many things did not work: understeer in some points, oversteer in others, I could never push deeply, give really the best, as I wanted and could. Already on the starting grid I saw the steering wheel a bit crooked. And it was crooked throughout the race. I thought: it will be the old tyres. I asked the pits and they said: go easy, there are no problems. Then the engine started to lose power in the straight, it was jerking and I started to worry. I talk on the radio again with the technicians and they say: go ahead, it’s nothing. Then the engine is no longer dropped in the straight, but in the corners. And the car went off. When McLaren passed me, I had been in trouble for two laps. Otherwise Coulthard would never have made it. And then he had the car with less fuel, lighter, so it is true that he immediately went to the pits, making me back in the lead. I could have delayed the refuelling a lot: given all the difficulties I had found myself in, I had saved so much gasoline. Our strategy was right. Believe me, I would have won. Sure. I’m angry, what more can I do? The car touched a lot on the bottom, it had never happened to me before. Every time new drawbacks appear. But I’m in Ferrari: who is better than my technicians to solve problems? I still have faith, but I hope to finish all the next races. And I hope that now everyone begins to understand that it is not my fault that the car breaks so often".
Someone in Brazil thought so, and someone else wrote it.
"They also claimed that I’m only here to work for Schumacher. That’s not true, and at Silverstone I was proving it. Sooner or later the wheel will turn, in fact, despite everything, I am convinced that it is already turning. At Imola I was more embittered, here I was going to win the race. And then I hit pole position, the first of the season for Ferrari. Tomorrow is another day, and it will be better".
And the next race in Barcelona?
"On Wednesday I start again from scratch, despite the pain I feel inside. I’m not giving up, despite the stupid problem that happened in Brazil, the seatbelts of Imola, the troubles of Silverstone. So far everything has gone wrong. But I will never stop fighting".
Jean Todt explains that the failure on the F1-2000 of Barrichello is not the same as the withdrawal in Brazil. Then it was a design problem, this time it concerns a connector that, losing oil, determined the drop of the pressure of the circuit sending gradually tilt clutch, gearbox and steering:
"From the telemetry we spotted it just as Rubens on the radio communicated the rise of certain anomalies, around the thirtieth lap. Really a shame, he was having a great race, fighting for victory. We have identified the problem, now in Maranello we will have to understand the causes and provide a solution because we cannot lose important points on the way".
The F1-2000 had hydraulic system problems also at the beginning of the tests at Mugello but, according to the technicians, those were of a different nature:
"Unfortunately we can never work hard enough to be 100% sure of the reliability, this happens a bit to everyone. I'm very sorry for Rubens who, after the excellent qualifying, started off very well. The route, on the other hand, affected Schumacher’s race, who, being in eighth place and capped for thirty laps by an opponent, could only trust the right strategy to climb up to the podium. Our car has also been competitive here and I believe that even in Barcelona it is capable of fighting. No, I’m not afraid that Barrichello is discouraged by this second inconvenience, he knows very well that Ferrari follows him with the utmost care and always guarantees him a good car, identical in all respects to that of Schumacher. As in McLaren, even in Ferrari there is no difference between the two drivers".
Still strong with a conspicuous advantage in both the standings, Ferrari begins together with all the other teams the work of preparation for the fifth round of the season. As already happened before the Silverstone race, in fact, not even time to recharge the batteries that the teams meet in the Iberian Peninsula to do a test session on the same track that will host the Spanish Grand Prix, the circuit of Montmelò, where Ferrari aspires to stop immediately the comeback attempt of McLaren-Mercedes.