A lasting legacy

September 16 - 22, 2020

Gulf Weekly A lasting legacy

As Ferrari celebrated its 1,000th appearance in an F1 GP, rewarded for its longevity by a race at their home track of Mugello, there was something all too familiar about a Schumacher taking the lead in the championship.

Unfortunately for the team it was in F2 that Mick Schumacher benefited from a safety car deployment to elevate himself and his junior Ferrari team to the overall lead.

The weekend was, aside from the overall result, a marvellous celebration of Ferrari’s history in F1, an iconic sporting team followed through good and bad times by countless motorsport fans.

The flowing high-speed corners through the rolling Tuscany hillside epitomise the spirit of racing where physical endurance and concentration has made this a favourite for drivers already, relishing the challenge of testing their skills.

In a constant battle of ambition versus adhesion – gravel penalising any error – it was the volume of crashes and red flags that made the Tuscan GP as exciting as it was last Sunday.

George Russell, after practice, summed it all up with a tweet: “This. Track. Is. Mad. I love it”!

Having missed only 28 races in the history of F1 dating back to 1950 (including the first at Silverstone over an argument about expenses), Ferrari are the most successful team in history, compiling 238 wins, 228 poles,  772 podiums, 16 constructor’s championships and 15 for their drivers. 

Nine drivers have taken the title in 78 different models – the only year in which they failed to deliver to the top rung during one prolific period was in 2008 when Massa and Raikkonen missed out to the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton.

And, here he was again in 2020 delivering the race win, pole position and fastest lap. At least the Mercedes safety car was painted in Ferrari-red!

Arriving last weekend in a miserable sixth place in the championship is not how Ferrari would have chosen to celebrate, although they have experienced such depths before. 

Most notably this was in the 1980s when Villeneuve and Scheckter were nearer the back of the grid than the front.  Yet even then the drivers – much like LeClerc now and Alonso before – enhanced their personal reputations to keep hopes alive.

The track, adorned throughout with the tricolore, pre-dates the team, evolving from the Cicuito Stradale in 1914 and then held its first classified race in 1920 before evolving into the track we now know in 1974.

Enzo Ferrari, or Enzo l’Ingegnere (Enzo the Engineer) as he was (and is) affectionately known, had run Alfa Romeo’s racing team but started his own team in 1947 with the Tipo125, in a deep burgundy colour that the team adopted as a one-off for the race last weekend.

He adapted the prancing horse logo in tribute to Italy’s leading F1 pilot, Count Francesco Baracca who had a rearing stallion emblazoned on his fighter.

Later he changed this to the rosso corsa – racing red – that is now a colour identified exclusively with the team.

Argentinian Jose Gonzalez secured Ferrari their first win in 1951 defeating the dominant Alfa’s, bringing Enzo to tears. He passed away in 1988 aged 90 although had remained involved throughout with the team.

Ferrari have won championships all around the world, including Le Mans, Daytona and Bathurst in addition to the road courses of Mille Migliaand and the Carrera Panamerica. However, F1 has always been their heartbeat.

The next-generation Tipo500 took Ferrari on a championship-winning ride in 1952 and 1953 with Ascari during which he won seven consecutive races, a record that stood until 2013.

Enzo named an engine after his son, Dino, that took Mike Hawthorn to the title in 1958.  When Nikki Lauda first stepped into a Ferrari he described it as a “piece of sh#*” yet stuck with the team and secured two titles in 1975 and 1977 after recovering from horrific burns in a racing crash in 1976 in which he was trapped in the car.

The names of drivers (not listing them all) that has won for them is a ‘who’s who’ of stars.  Ascari, Fangio, Surtees, Lauda, Schumacher and their most recent winner, Kimi Raikkonen.  Many of these were celebrated on the helmets of current drivers LeClerc and Vettel last weekend, along with their iconic machines.

Nothing speaks to F1 like a driver rivalry. One of the greatest saw Senna and Prost frequently coming together. One of the most controversial saw Senna deliberately ram Prost in 1990 although it had little to do with a desire to see the prancing horse leap over the barrier – it had more to do with the controversy from the previous year when they were supposedly teammates at McLaren!

In 2005 Schumacher almost took out Barichello in the US GP despite there being only six cars racing as a result of a protest over the track layout. Of course, Schumacher had history of driving into his opponents, particularly if the championship depended on it, as witnessed first hand by Damon Hill in 1994 and Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.

Back in what many consider to be the golden era of F1, 1979 saw some of the most epic racing ever witnessed at the French GP in Dijon. Gilles Villeneuve in the Ferrari and Rene Arnoux in his native Renault swapped positions on multiple occasions, wheels and bodywork frequently touching as they passed each other, only for the Frenchman to prevail – to claim second!

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