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
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 dicult 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.