There’s no such
thing as a surefire
ingredient for success
in F1, but Brawn’s
of eight drivers’ titles
between 1994 and
2009 (seven for
one for Jenson
Button) made him
the next best thing.
For five glorious seasons, Scuderia Ferrari and Michael Schumacher were imperious in
their domination of Formula 1. But like all empires, rise is inevitably followed by decline....
keep his bid for a sixth title in seven years
alive, a release was circulated confirming his
retirement at the season’s end. In truth, the
man himself neither knew when to go nor
what to do after, but the content and
outcome of his scheduled press conference
to that effect had been guaranteed by
di Montezemolo’s pre-emptive strike.
But then, Schumacher’s Ferrari had
always been strictly business. He imbued it
with a need to overachieve. His struggles
upon joining the Prancing Horse in 1996,
title near misses in ’ 97 and ’ 98, and broken
leg in ’ 99 only made him stronger. And in
2000 he wore down McLaren’s Mika
Hakkinen, the only rival he respected, to
earn Ferrari’s first drivers’ title in 21 years.
“All that lovely money! All those
mistakes! They must have learned
something?” guffawed Ken Tyrrell, whose
world championship-winning team had
operated from a wooden ex-army barracks
in leafy Surrey, in jolly old England. Oddly,
however, this ultimate garagisto, for whom
F1 remained a sport, had unwittingly
drawn Ferrari’s blueprint: a singular
ithin a few hours of arriving at
Maranello in 1973, Niki Lauda was asking
himself why the hell Ferrari didn’t win
every grand prix, so superior were its
facilities and resources. Four years later,
his question more than answered, he got
the hell out immediately after securing
his second world title.
Michael Schumacher, in contrast, was
ushered out of Ferrari against his will at
the end of the 2006 season – despite
seeming to win every race.
Or perhaps because...
Luca di Montezemolo is the link. As a
languid young man with Enzo Ferrari’s ear,
but a mind of his own, for two seasons he
insulated Lauda against poisonous politics.
Although that bubble didn’t burst when he
was reassigned within the controlling Fiat
Group in 1976 – it deflated.
The Scuderia was a spent force upon
his return as its suave CEO in 1991.
Maranello had stagnated while its cars
were designed in leafy Surrey, in jolly old
England, and was no longer fit for
purpose when outsourced designer
Barnard switched to Benetton for 1990.
Although di Montezemolo realized that
expertise would have to be brought in –
he even turned to Barnard for help – he
determined to breathe life back into
Maranello. This bubble would be stronger.
So strong that eventually he felt
compelled to stick a knife into it.
As Schumacher crossed the line at
Monza 2006 to score his 71st and
penultimate victory for Ferrari, and so
Ferrari has scored 224
grand prix victories
since the Formula 1
inception in 1950.
accounts for 72 of
those – a staggering