Fer­rari’s 1000th GP

There’s been lit­tle for Fer­rari to cel­e­brate in F1 this sea­son – apart from reach­ing its land­mark 1000th GP at an emo­tion­ally charged and Covid-quiet Mugello cir­cuit

CAR (UK) - - Contents - Words Tom Clark­son Photograph­y Getty

We go be­hind the scenes at Mugello as the Scud­e­ria marks an un­match­able achieve­ment

No amount of nostalgia, paint jobs or razzmatazz could hide the Scud­e­ria’s cur­rent plight

For a brief moment, all was well in the world of Fer­rari. The beau­ti­ful Tus­can hills re­ver­ber­ated to the mag­i­cal sound of a 3.0-litre Fer­rari V10 as Mick Schu­macher, son of Fer­rari legend Michael, hus­tled the all-con­quer­ing F2004 For­mula 1 car around Mugello.

The five-lap demon­stra­tion brought back mem­o­ries of dom­i­nance, of a time when tro­phies and cham­pi­onships were de rigueur. It was in this car that Schumi Snr clinched his sev­enth world ti­tle in 2004 and it was this car, out of the scores that have raced for the team at the top ech­e­lon, that the Scud­e­ria chose to en­cap­su­late 1000 races in F1.

‘The F2004 was an amaz­ing car,’ Fer­rari team prin­ci­pal Mat­tia Binotto told me. ‘It was an evo­lu­tion of the pre­vi­ous year’s car, yet we man­aged to im­prove it in so many ar­eas,’ said Binotto, who worked in the team’s en­gine di­vi­sion at the time. ‘Very happy mem­o­ries with Michael too, so it’s spe­cial to see Mick in the car too.’

The F2004 also held the lap record at Mugello, un­til the 2020 F1 cars rolled into town. But no amount of nostalgia, paint jobs or razzmatazz – there was a party in Florence’s Pi­azza della Sig­no­ria on Satur­day night – could hide the re­al­ity of the Scud­e­ria’s cur­rent plight.

At Monza, the pre­vi­ous week­end, nei­ther car had fin­ished the Ital­ian Grand Prix – the first time that had hap­pened since 1985. A week ear­lier, at Spa-Fran­cor­champs, Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Charles Le­clerc en­dured the team’s least com­pet­i­tive show­ing for 40 years.

‘It’s very di“cult for us at the moment,’ said Le­clerc. ‘We know what the is­sues are and we’re try­ing to fix them, but it’s a long road.’

The SF1000 is no F2004. All sea­son the car has lacked power and down­force, the two most in­flu­en­tial ar­eas of per­for­mance, and ev­ery race is a war of at­tri­tion.

The in­au­gu­ral Tus­can Grand Prix would turn out to be a mi­cro­cosm of the Scud­e­ria’s his­tory in F1. Fleet­ing bril­liance, when Le­clerc ran third for a few laps, and un­erring longevity, be­cause both driv­ers sur­vived the car­nage that took out half of the grid to come home in the points.

One thou­sand races. But you’re only as good as your last race. ⊲

The pre­vi­ous week­end, nei­ther Fer­rari fin­ished the Ital­ian GP for the first time since 1985

1. Put it down to the brav­ery of youth or, if you’re be­ing kind, a car that suits his style bet­ter, but since Fer­rari lost all its pace young gun Charles Le­clerc has coped bet­ter than four­time champ Se­bas­tian Vet­tel. For Fer­rari’s 1000th race Le­clerc started an im­pres­sive fifth; Vet­tel a lowly 14th, be­hind the Fer­rari-en­gined Alfa of Kimi Räikkö­nen.

2. Fer­rari’s al­ways been about tug­ging heart­strings, and see­ing a Schu­macher back be­hind the wheel of the mighty F2004 was it all it took to bring on the blub­bing. Mick Schu­macher, a Fer­rari Academy driver and ris­ing F2 star, took dad’s old warhorse for a drive ahead of the main event.

3. Darker shade of scar­let a nod to the liv­ery first used by the team at Monaco in 1950.

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