long enough to capitalize on this.
The empty vessel that had made so much
noise was now brimful of all it needed.
Favored over McLaren since 1996 by
cigarette giant Marlboro (an accurate
barometer of a team’s potential and its
marketing power) and subsequently by
Bridgestone, too – and secretly granted a
unique power of veto by the FIA – Ferrari
turned a two-horse race versus designer
Adrian Newey’s Williams and McLarens
into a show of utter dominance.
As he had in 2000, Schumacher won
nine GPs in ’01. He won 11 in ’02 – finishing
on the podium at every race – but scored
“only” six in ’03. A talented and insouciant
next-gen – Fernando Alonso, Juan Pablo
Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen – was making
itself felt, and Michelin and engine-suppliers
Renault, BMW and Mercedes had upped
their games. Yet Schumacher would win
12 of the first 13 GPs of 2004.
In that same 2000-’04 gilded age, his
teammate, Rubens Barrichello, won nine.
The amenable Brazilian understood the
prevailing mood better than his Maranello
masters ever would. Ordering him to move
over for Schumacher at the 2002 Austrian
GP roused the public and caused the FIA
to again attempt to codify that indignance.
Yet Todt shrugged… Nothing could be
allowed to rock this boat.
Extravagantly funded and fitted out, with
a well-drilled crew of 800 generating
unsinkable reliability – just eight DNFs in five
years – its captain launched a relentless and
sustained attack. Calmly piloted by Brawn’s
brain, super-fit “Schuey” chopped GPs into a
series of sprints that left the rest in a daze.
Worringly for F1, the wider world was
wearying, too. Ferrari had become too
“As Ferrari became increasingly
multinational, the more it
retreated to within Maranello”
relationship with a brilliant driver who
rewrote F1’s rules of engagement.
Not everyone appreciated Schumacher’s
ruthless, self-serving reinterpretation of
Stewart’s safety legacy – his on-track
“stunts” caused F1’s governing body, the
FIA, to draw up a Code of Conduct – but
his loyal lieutenants never flinched.
Consummate politician Jean Todt, the first
non-Italian to lead the Scuderia, would
shrug. Unassuming head of design Rory
Byrne would keep his nose to the drawing
board. Owlish technical director and master
strategist Ross Brawn could play dumb.
And whip-cracking chief mechanic Nigel
Stepney would corral the more skittish.
Byrne, Brawn and Stepney – a South
African and two Englishman – had been
with Schumacher at controversial, tight-knit
Benetton. Yet, as Ferrari, the world’s favorite
Formula 1 team, became increasingly
multinational, the more it retreated to within
Maranello. Divisive isolation had become
unifying integration. Being able to design
For a few brief seconds
after winning 2008’s
GP, local hero Felipe
Massa knew he’d earned
Ferrari’s seventh F1
drivers’ title in nine
Lewis Hamilton passed
Timo Glock’s Toyota for
fifth in the final turn of
the final lap, taking the
title by a point. Massa’s
(BELOW) said it all.
Elevating grand prix
racing... At the height
of its success, it was
difficult to point to
any real weak link at
Scuderia Ferrari. From
lead driver Michael
a brilliant technical
group, to the guys in
the garage and pit lane
(LEFT), the team was
at a sustained level of
excellence rarely, if
ever, seen in Formula 1.
THE FASTEST FORMULA 1 CAR EVER
The F2004, which delivered Ferrari 15 wins,
12 poles, 14 fastest laps and a drivers’ and
constructors’ title double in 2004 still holds the
outright lap record at several current F1 venues.