Ivan Capelli, a dream turned into a nightmare



At the end of 1991 Alain Prost criticizes the lack of performance very harshly. An Italian driver, Ivan Capelli, who will not have much luck in Ferrari, will take that seat left free. Originally, Pierluigi Martini was chosen as a replacement for Prost for the 1992 vintage, who by the way already had a signed contract, but will later be filmed at Scuderia Italia and therefore will not land at Ferrari.


Prost's legacy is very heavy, and not making a rider of his caliber regret it would have been really difficult for anyone. Add to this the fact that at the presentation of the Ferrari F92A, the new president of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, exclaimed:


"From today in Maranello the sun is shining again, as the sun is now peeping through the clouds that have obscured our sky. I am confident for the future and in our riders".


But the F92A immediately proved to be an unqualified car, not very competitive and not very reliable. Ivan decides to face this new adventure using his honesty and his sincerity but, as often happens in Maranello, this turns out to be a mistake. Because if on the one hand Jean Alesi says in the winter tests that the car with the famous double bottom designed by Jean Claude Migeot is amazing, Ivan, very realistically, complains about the fact that it was unstable and that the behavior changes according to the curves.


For this reason, Ivan finds few allies in Ferrari. In fact, as long as he complains about the car, the engineer Lombardi supports him, but when the driver also starts to point out the engine problems he finds himself completely alone, abandoned by his entire team.


Indeed, as often happens in Maranello, in the circles one begins to think that while Alesi is committed and getting the most out of the car, while Ivan does not push on the accelerator just to agree with an internal faction of Ferrari that should have given up in Migeot and Alesi. As expected, the season starts in the worst way for Ivan, with two consecutive retirements in South Africa and Mexico, but the first points arrive in Brazil thanks to a fifth-place finish.


However, this is only an isolated case, since in the following four rounds the Italian is always forced to finish the races early, often due to the unstable behavior of the car: in Monte Carlo, at the Rascasse, Capelli ends up in a spin, then climbing on the guard rail, leaving the Ferrari in the balance, while in Canada, in the fast chicane opposite the Montreal pits, due to an assembly error of the torsion bar, the car jumps over the curb and flies off the track. In the accident, Capelli violently hits the helmet against the concrete wall, causing serious consequences to the body and morale.


Gritting his teeth, Ivan manages to reach the finish line of the British Grand Prix, but ends only ninth and out of the points, only to be forced to retire in Germany, while in Budapest his Ferrari sees a new glimmer of light, finishing the race in sixth position.


But it will be the second and final points finish of the entire season. The following three Grands Prix turned into three retirements for Capelli, so, after the Grand Prix raced in Portugal, Ferrari decided to summon Ivan to Maranello the following Tuesday.


Here, despite having presented himself on time to Montezemolo's office, he finds the president in a meeting. It is therefore the press officer, the journalist Giancarlo Baccini, who welcomes Ivan in his office and gives him a sheet with the press release in which Ferrari announces his dismissal in favor of the arrival of Nicola Larini, who takes his place in the team replacing him. in the last two races of the season, with the aim of testing the new active suspension. Ivan is perplexed and asks to speak to his manager or at least to the lawyer, also because there were pending payments. The answer will be chilling:


"Do as you please, we have already sent this press release to Ansa".


The alleged reason why Ferrari decides to fire Ivan concerns the fact that after inspecting the car used in the Portuguese Grand Prix, they say, Capelli withdrew from the race pretentiously, given that the car is in order and presents no problems, therefore, in the opinion of Ferrari, Ivan has committed a serious breach, forcing them to terminate the contract. An answer that Capelli, who returned to Milan wondering the reason for this dismissal, would only get many years later.


Ivan Capelli concludes the championship and his negative experience with Ferrari in thirteenth place in the overall standings, scoring only three points, while his teammate Alesi finishes seventh with 18; certainly not a big booty for a car that, as the Italian driver had said, showed many defects.


For Ivan, overall, the 1992 vintage was a disastrous season, marred by some good qualifying performances and two good points finishes, with Ferrari being called upon to answer for the next championship.


Alessandro Cappelli

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