News and views on motorsports

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Cut the crap Luca!

So Luca Di Montezemolo was saying the other day that the debacle at Hungaroring “must never happen again.” Truly Signor Monte, was it so bad? Time was when you guys were regularly finishing a lap down on the opposition. Almost every weekend. Granted it's been some years ago and was prior to the arrival of Michael Schumacher and more crucially perhaps Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne.

In those days, I was a Ferrari fan. Suffering through the agony of seeing the red cars vanquished week in week out. They even hired some of the best drivers those days. Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Gerhard Berger to name a few. All of them however would tell tales of the frustration of working at Ferrari. The bueracracy and the on going politics getting in the way of actual work.

Names, names and more names was the complaint that Gerhard Berger made. High ranking personnel from Harvey Postlethwaite, John Barnard, Steve Nichols to current Toyota designer Gustav Brunner. They would walk in, start doing a good job before being cajoled. In the case of Steve Nichols put out to the freeze once Alain Prost left the team.

Back in those days and indeed for the last few decades, yes decades, till the present day, Ferrari would always have the biggest budgets, the best facilities and everything they could ever want provided for them by Fiat and yet years would go by and they would not win a single race. Their 1992 race car exemplified everything. The twin floor Ferrari was the slowest car on the straights. Slower even than the Yamaha powered Jordans. And no they didnt' win a single race that year. Or the year before or even indeed the year after that.

The most laughable situation must have been the 1991 Australian Grand Prix. In 1991, believe it or not, Minardi was a customer of Ferrari engines. Oh and in those days, Ferrari would give their customer teams pretty up to date engines. And you guessed the Minardi actually outqualified Ferrari. The Minardi incidentally was driven by current Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer. Giovanni Agnelli, the boss of Fiat was understandably livid. How was it possible that a customer could out qualify the works Ferraris, he boomed.

All this of course, despite the fact that their budget is always the highest in Formula 1. Frank Williams was quoted as saying that after every race the Williams team would strip their fuel pumps, rebuild it and reuse them. Ferrari would throw away used fuel pumps after every race. Yup, they're definitely big spenders. But it took them 21 years to win their next drivers world championship. Give the same budget to one of the smaller teams and they'd win it year on year every year.

And now today, they make it seem like they are all invincible. Take the trio of Schumacher, Brawn and Byrne away and I guarantee they will be back to their losing ways. I am going to divert off topic here a bit but to top it off, Ferrari have always had the favour of the FIA. What am I talking about? Well, how about this. When turbos were banned and everyone decided that normally aspirated engines were the way to go, all the other teams decided on a maximum of 8 cylinders. But hey guess what? Ferrari wanted 12, so of course the FIA dogs agreed. Refuelling was unanymously deplored by all other teams but Ferrari V12s are thirsty bitches. So we'll allow those dangerous fuel rigs.

In 1996, Ferrari decided to run on 10 cylinders, designed by Osamu Goto, formerly of Honda. Oh and now of course, its alright for the FIA to limit engine cylinders to 10. By the way, they sidelined Osamu Goto as well in the end. And what about that 1999 Malaysian GP barge board incident. Talking to all the stewards, they are all in unison that Ferrari's barge boards were infringing. They of course argued that a 5% tolerance level is allowed. Bullshit mate. That's only for the flat bottom and nowhere else. As one rival engineer said, in that case, we're all underdesigning our cars. And why not make engines of 3150cc since 5% tolerance is allowed. Ferrari is full of shit. But I am digressing here.

The point is compared to where they've been I'd say Ferrari are doing enormously well. They are winning races and championships and Mosley and Bernie are still their bitches. They still have 5 race wins to their name this year which is more than any other team. And they are still in with a shot at the championship. But after years of being so used to seeing red cars on top I really don't mind seeing more of the Hungaroring incident. You ain't doing so bad Monte. And to all the bimbo Ferrari fans out there. Remember where your team has been. Cause that's where they'll be heading back to once big Schuey quits.

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