Mid-Season Report, Who will Rule Formula 1?

It’s this time of the season, where the drivers and the crews are taking their summer break and enjoying some days off with their families and friends.

For the fans, it’s a good point to see how the Formula One teams and drivers performed during the first half of the season. After eleven races Sebastian Vettel is leading in the drivers’ standings (202 pts) followed by the British champion Lewis Hamilton (188 pts), the gap between the two drivers is just 14 points, Mercedes and Ferrari are very close this season, that can be seen from their results and the points that the two teams have collected.

The Silver Arrows are first, on the constructors’ standings, by 39 points. As it seems the title will be a battle of two teams, but what about the drivers?  Will it be decided only between Vettel and Hamilton?

There is one driver who seems able to challenge the two champions, he will try to take advantage of their battle and slowly he will try to claim Formula One’s throne. That driver is Valtteri Bottas.

The Finn is third with 169 points, he is 19 points behind his team-mate and 33 points behind the leader, Sebastian Vettel. Bottas, have finished eight times on the podium and have won two races, his first victory was in Russia and his last one in Austria. It is a great achievement if you consider that it’s his debut season with Mercedes and that he is racing alongside a three-time champion who is fighting for his fourth title.

London, United Kingdom.
Wednesday 12 July 2017.
Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso STR12 Renault.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _X4I1034

Mercedes will face a challenge, Bottas is in a good form, Hamilton is desperately wanting to win this season, after last year’s defeat from his team-mate, now their team has to decide if they will let them race or if they will pull the card of number 1 and number 2 driver.

Red Bull Racing is far away from the two contenders, the Bulls are currently third, they have scored 184 points and most of these points were scored by Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian has finished five times on the podium and won in Azerbaijan. From the other hand, Daniel’s team-mate, Max Verstappen is not facing, the best moments of his Formula 1 career. The young driver finished third in China, and retired on five of the eleven races. It looks that Red Bull can secure the third place and focus one the following season, their only threat is Force India.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon are doing a good job this season, they have scored 101 points, 72 less of the points which Force India scored in 2016. They both look to be enjoying their season, Perez has finished in the points in nine of the eleven races, whilst Ocon failed to score point/s only in Monaco where he finished 12th.

Williams is not facing its best season so far, Felipe Massa returned from retirement, in order to give the chance to Bottas to move to Mercedes and try his luck in a better team, was it the right decision? The Brazilian finished sixth in the season premiere in Australia, in Bahrain he also finished in the same position, these were Massa’s two best finishes. Last season at the summer break, Felipe had 38 points, fifteen more points from those that he has now.

Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan.
Sunday 25 June 2017.
World Copyright: Zak Mauger/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _54I4953

From the other hand, his team-mate, Lance Stroll crashed or trashed (if you prefer) his Williams with every possible way he could think of. From the pre-season tests the young driver was not looking very “skilful”, his results confirmed that. The Canadian had four retirements in the first four races of the season and one more retirement in Monaco, five DNF in eleven races. He scored his first two points in Canada, where he finished 9th. In Azerbaijan, Lance achieved the unachievable, after a top drive he finished third. That was the only podium for Williams this season.

Toro Rosso is only two points behind Williams and chasing them for the fifth place in the constructors’ championship. A battle between Williams, Toro Rosso, Haas and Renault is expected for the fifth place. Last season, Williams secured easily the fifth place, but now they are struggling, these four teams are close to each other and all of them have at least one good drive to racing.

Romain Grosjean finished sixth Austria and scored eight valuable points for Haas, a one man show is a good slogan, which suits, to Renault as Nico Hulkenberg have scored all their points (26) so far. Toro Rosso is in an almost similar situation, Kvyat has scored just four points, whilst Sainz is doing all the hard work. Carlos, finished sixth in Monaco, that was his highest finish and until now he has 56 points, eleven less than Max Verstappen.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Friday 09 June 2017.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONY2825

McLaren, is the team which impressed me the most in the last race before the summer break. Fernando, was ready for his holidays but he had only one obstacle to face, the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Spaniard, finished sixth in Hungary, scored eight points and then he took his yacht and visited Greece.

Pascal Wehrelin is trying to save Sauber from its disaster, but his results are not enough. Five points for Pascal, he finished eighth in Spain and tenth in Azerbaijan, his team-mate(s) is still trying to figure out if he is racing in Formula One or..

With nine races to go I am expecting a strong fight between Vettel Hamilton and Bottas, don’t underestimate the Finns!

Who will rule the Formula 1 Kingdom?

Have a nice holiday!

Victor Archakis

*Twitter: @FP_Passion

The Scuderia – the most successful team in Grand Prix history

Ferrari are the only team to have competed in Formula One since the championship’s inaugural year back in 1950.

The Prancing Horse have gone on to become arguably the most iconic racing teams – and brands – in the world. The Scuderia have also become the most successful team in Grand Prix history to fulfil Enzo Ferrari’s dream of Grand Prix success. Ferrari have since won 15 World Drivers’ Championships and 16 World Constructors’ titles, although neither accolade since 2008.

Unlike other teams, the Scuderia started the 1950 season at the Monaco Grand Prix, missing the first ever Formula One race at the earlier British round weeks before.  The Alfa Romeos of Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio were the dominant force of the year and Farina would go to win his only World Championship later that year, but Alberto Ascari still proved competitive around the streets of Monte Carlo.  He would finish second in Monaco while teammate Raymond Sommer was fourth.

Ascari, Luigi Villoresi and Sommer would retire in Switzerland after all three missed the Indianapolis 500, while Ascari would net another second place at the season ending Italian Grand Prix at Monza. There would be another points finish before then though as Ascari was fifth in Belgium at the fearsome Spa-Francorchamps circuit, while Sommer and Villoresi were not to trouble the scorers after Monaco.

The only other Ferrari podium would come courtesy of the privately entered Peter Whitehead at the penultimate French Grand Prix. Ascari would win the World Championship with Ferrari in 1952 and 1953 as the team began to establish themselves on the Formula One scene.

1950 was not a fairytale debut, but it set the foundations for one of the greatest teams in racing history.

Enzo Ferrari, The Italian Legend

“Aerodynamics are for people who cannot build engines” Enzo Anselmo Ferrari

Enzo Anselmo Ferrari, born in Modena on the 18th of February 1898, his birth registered two days later due to heavy snow. When Ferrari was 10 years old, his father, took him and his brother Alfredo, to watch a motor race in Bologna. The race is won by Felice Nazzaro and that moment was enough to create a spark and a secret love in Enzo’s heart about Motorsport.

The following decade was a tragedy for Enzo and his family. In 1916, the flu killed his father and his brother, Enzo forced to quit his studies in order to look for a job. He found a place as an instructor in Modena’s fire service workshop. The following year, Ferrari joined the Italian army, he became a member of the 3rd Alpine Artillery Division, but he was seriously ill and after two operations he was honourable discharged.

In 1919, Ferrari moved to Milan to join the C.M.N ( Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali). In his debut as a racing driver, Enzo finished fourth at the 1919 Parma-Poggio di Berceto hill climb race. On November 23rd he took part in the Targa Florio but he lost due to a leak in his fuel tank. One year later he left from C.M.N in order to join Alfa Romeo.

Enzo won the Circuit del Savio, in 1923, after his victory, he met the parents of WWI flying ace Francesco Baracca, they suggested him to use the emblem that decorated their son’s plane for good luck. The emblem, which is now known in the whole world, was a prancing horse. In the same year Ferrari married Laura Dominica Garello.

One year later, Enzo Ferrari became a Cavaliere (Knight) for his sporting achievements, it was the first official title which he received from the Italian authorities. In 1925, he made a Cavaliere Ufficiale and his passion about journalism lead him to become the main founder of the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport in Bologna.

cc Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

The Born of Scuderia Ferrari

In 1929, Enzo founds the Scuderia Ferrari in Modena, the purpose of his company was to give the ability to owner drivers to race. His idea was very successful and after a while he created an official team. Scuderia included both cars and motorbikes. A few years later, in 1933, Scuderia became the official racing department of Alfa Romeo.

Ferrari’s final race as a driver was at Circuito Tre Province on August 9th, 1931, one year later he became a father, Alfredo or also known as Dino, was born on January 19th 1932. Enzo had to close his Scuderia, in 1937, because Alfa Romeo claimed back its racing department, five years later he left from Alfa Romeo, but he was not allowed to use the name Ferrari as a racing team, for at least four years.

After his departure from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari had a secret passion, he wanted to create his own racing cars. He opened Auto Avio Costruizioni in Modena, Ferrari forced to move his factory in Maranello, because during the WWII the government interfered with his plans. In his new factory in Maranello, Enzo decided to focus on grinding machines.

At the end of the Second World War, Enzo returned to designing racing cars, the first official Ferrari was the 125 S which was tested in March 1947. Ferrari had to wait a few months in order to celebrate his first victory in Rome at the Rome Grand Prix. A series of great victories were achieved the following seasons. In 1948 Ferrari won at the Mille Miglia, the next year he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in 1951 Ferrari won the British Grand Prix.

Alberto Ascari was signed, in 1951, by Enzo and won Ferrari’s first world championship in 1952. During those years Enzo was also started designing cars for commercial use.

A serious illness cost the life of Enzo’s beloved son, Alferdo. In 1956, Dino died from muscular dystrophy. Ferrari was designing the new 1500 cc V6 engine alongside with his son, the engine made its debut 10 months after the Dino’s pass, all the V6 engines were named in his honour.

It was the hardest years of Enzo’s life, six of his drivers were killed between 1955 and 1965, he was also accused for manslaughter in 1957 as nine spectators lost their lives after one of his Ferraris lost control due to a puncture and crashed onto the spectators.

Some years later, in 1969, Ferrari decided to partner with Fiat Group, he knew that he needed a strong partnership in order to continue developing his company. Enzo, gave the 50% of his company to Fiat Group.

The End of Ferrari’s Legacy

Enzo Ferrari decided to build the Fiorano Circuit, which was officially launched on April 8th 1972. Ferrari, resigned as a company from his company in 1977, even though he retired, he still had the control of Scuderia Ferrari.

The F40 was the final car which was launched (1987) under Enzo Ferrari’s management. Enzo also received an honourable degree in Physics from the University of Modena in 1988. The August of the same year Enzo passed away in Maranello at the age of 90.

The first official entry of the Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1 championship was in 1950 at the Monaco Grand Prix, since then Scuderia has celebrated 16 constructors’ championships and 15 drivers’ titles. Ferrari has scored 228 race victories and 211 pole positions.

“No one remember who took second place and that will never be me.” Enzo Ferrari

Victor Archakis – @FP_Passion



‘Il Leone’, The Nigel Mansell and Ferrari Story

Driving for Ferrari in Formula One is seen as more than just driving the car. You become an icon of an army of fans in Italy and indeed around the world. You become instantly recognised in Italy, and are hailed as a God.

Many drivers have endeared themselves to the Tifosi, even non-natives. Such examples include Michael Schumacher, Niki Lauda and Jean Alesi. However one of the best drivers to race for Ferrari, was Nigel Mansell.

The 1992 world champion drove for the Prancing Horse in 1989 and 1990, with the Brit having the honour of being the last driver Enzo Ferrari signed before he passed away in 1988.

It didn’t take Mansell long to embed himself into the heart of the Tifosi. Affectionately named Il Leone, because of his fearless driving style, Mansell won his first race for the team in Brazil.

Though it seemed more likely Mansell would be leaving early. The team’s revolutionary semi-automatic gearbox was so high-risk, that Mansell retired from most of the sessions that weekend. There’s a paddock rumour that he booked an early flight home midway through the race as he was so confident his car wouldn’t see the finish!

However against all odds, and a steering wheel coming loose mid-race, Mansell took the win, in the hometown of perennial rival Nelson Piquet.

It was to be a trying season for Mansell and Maranello, as the car was in a constant flux of development for a title push in 1990. He retired from the next four races with various issues, such as a gearbox failure at Imola.

Source: deviantart.com

His form picked up midway through the season though, with podiums in France, Britain and Germany, but it was at the Hungaroring where ‘Il Leone’ showed his fighting spirit.

Qualifying 12th, Mansell made his way up to second behind Ayrton Senna’s McLaren with just 20 laps to go. Hungary is still a tough place to overtake, with it being known as ‘Monaco without the barriers’ but Mansell hunted down the legendary Brazilian with aplomb.

When Senna hesitated to lap Stefan Johansson, Mansell seized his chance. He swung to the outside and passed both of them, taking the lead and winning the race. In Mansell’s autobiography, Staying On Track, he describes it as one of his favourite overtaking manoeuvres.

The rest of the season didn’t quite pan out as Mansell was banned for the Spanish Grand Prix after colliding with Senna and being disqualified in Portugal the week before. However he finished fourth in the championship with 38 points.

1990 saw reigning world champion Alain Prost move to Maranello, and a year of turbulence was on the horizon.

The Tifosi adored Mansell, giving him various awards and accolades. As well as his nickname, he was given a golden helmet, a small lion statue, and when he left the team at the end of the 1990 season, he was sent a trophy with the words ‘Our World Champion of 1990’ inscribed on it.

Meanwhile Prost stayed at Ferrari until 1991 when he was sacked for criticising the car. “In Japan, the car was like a horrible truck to drive. No pleasure at all. I’ve underlined the defects of the Ferrari throughout the season, but no-one has listened to a word.” Prost was fired by Ferrari and paid off to not drive for 1992.

Source: deviantart.com

He was also partially the reason Mansell left the team. Prost was notorious for being very political, playing the gallery to suit his needs. Mansell was number one driver when Prost arrived, but that changed as the Frenchman was given preferential treatment.

At Silverstone, Mansell’s home race, Prost supposedly saw Mansell’s car was much better and ordered the team to switch their cars, meaning Prost now had the better car. This knocked the steam out of Mansell and so he saw the season as a ‘retirement year.’

However there was one incredible moment in the ’90 season. At Mexico, Nigel was approaching former team mate Gerhard Berger in the McLaren approaching the high speed Peraltada corner. After a few weaving moves down the straight, Mansell moved to the outside and passed Berger around the outside. It’s considered one of the best moves in Formula One history.

Mansell was ready to retire following his acrimonious year with Prost, until Frank Williams intervened and asked him to return to Williams, where he finally won the title in 1992 after over 10 years of trying.

Nigel is still revered by the Tifosi, and while many Brits have driven for the Prancing Horse, such as Tony Brooks, Mike Hawthorn and Eddie Irvine, none are more loved than ‘Il Leone’ or as we know him, ‘Our Nige.’

Jules Bianchi – A Lost Star

While it’s natural to remember Jules Bianchi around the Japanese Grand Prix, as Ferrari Week here at The Pit Crew Online falls near the second anniversary of his death it’s fitting to look back at the life and career of one of Maranello’s former rising stars.

Born in Nice in 1989, Bianchi arrived into a family that was already well-acquainted with motorsport. His grandfather Mauro raced GT cars in the 1960s and participated in three Grands Prix in 1961. His great-uncle Lucien drove in 19 Grands Prix between 1959 and 1968, scoring a handful of points, and achieved victory at Le Mans in 1968 alongside Pedro Rodriguez. Given his great-nephew’s affiliation with Ferrari, there’s a certain irony that Lucian’s Le Mans victory came behind the wheel of a Ford GT40, which broke Ferrari’s early 1960s string of Le Mans victories. Jules was not the first Bianchi to die in motorsport; Lucian was killed during testing at Le Mans in 1969. Jules’ father Philippe owned a karting circuit, providing a young Jules an early platform to begin honing his skills. At 15, Jules made the decision to pursue racing as a profession and at 17 signed a management contract with Nicolas Todt.

Looking back over Bianchi’s career, he seemed destined for Formula One. Having proved his skills in karting, placing first in multiple series in 2005 and 2006, Bianchi moved into the junior formulae. He made his single-seater debut in 2007, the final season of the French Formula Renault 2.0 series, driving for SG Formula. He secured a comfortable first place with 5 wins and 11 podiums, finishing 49 points ahead of the second place finisher Mathieu Arzeno.

2008 saw Bianchi move up to the Formula 3 Euro Series, driving for ART Grand Prix, where one of his teammates was Nico Hülkenberg. During his deubt season, he placed third overall with two wins and seven podiums for 47 points as well as placing first in the Masters of Formula 3. He continued competing with ART in 2009, his teammates including Valterri Bottas and Esteban Gutiérrez. That season Bianchi claimed the title, earning nine wins and twelve podiums and ending the season with 114 points.

2009 also saw the BBC and James Allen, among others, link Bianchi with a race seat at Ferrari due to Luca Badoer’s disappointing performance. Though this never materialized, December 2009 saw Bianchi become the first recruit to the Ferrari Driver Academy after the young drivers’ test at Jerez. Maranello clearly found Bianchi a worthy investment, and he was to remain a member until his death. The Ferrari Driver Academy still officially acknowledges that Jules was the most promising young driver that has participated in the program thus far.

Interviews during this period paint a picture of an affable young man, aggressive and ambitious on the track but aware that he’s still learning and maturing. He is quick to give credit to his influences, crediting his grandfather and manager for their help in his formation as a racing driver, as well as his fellow drivers for the self-management techniques he learned from them.

He progressed up the ladder to GP2 in 2010, again racing for ART Grand Prix. In his debut season Bianchi placed third in the championship with 52 points. Though he claimed three poles and was on the podium four times, he won no races this season.

FDA – Bianchi quarto in Gara 1

For 2011, despite remaining third overall he improved his record by claiming one win and six podiums. He totaled 53 points in the 2011 season. Significantly, 2011 also saw Bianchi debut as a Formula One test driver for Ferrari, coming closer to a coveted race seat.

In 2012 Bianchi competed in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, driving for Tech 1 Racing. He placed second in the championship, with three wins and eight podiums, and a total of 185 points. He continued his Formula One testing career, this time on loan to Sahara Force India from Ferrari. During his tenure as Force India’s test and reserve driver, he participated in 9 Friday free practice sessions, gaining valuable track time.

Bianchi’s big break arrived in 2013. Though Force India selected Adrian Sutil to replace Nico Hülkenberg upon his departure to Sauber, another seat opened when Marussia driver Luiz Razia’s sponsors failed to meet their financial commitments to the team. Jules had finally achieved his race seat, opposite Max Chilton. Though Marussia ran solidly at the back of the field and Bianchi retired in Monaco, Germany, and Japan, he nonetheless finished ahead of his teammate in every remaining race other than India and finished the drivers’ championship in 19th place, 4 places above Chilton. Marussia finished 10th in the 2013 Constructors Championship, securing much-needed prize money.


2014 saw Bianchi continue opposite Chilton with Marussia. Despite an inauspicious beginning to the season, failing to complete 90% of the race distance in Australia and retiring in Malaysia due to brake failure on lap 8, Bianchi continued to outperform his teammate. In a major step forward for the team he brought in both his own and Marussia’s first points at Monaco. While good fortune in the form of a number of retirements doubtless contributed to his 9th place finish, and his own illegal serving of a 5-second penalty under the Safety Car cost him 8th place, Bianchi and Marussia were justifiably pleased with the results. Though forced to retire when Chilton collided with him in Canada, he finished ahead of his teammate for most of the season other than a retirement late in the Belgian Grand Prix due to a gearbox failure.

And then came Suzuka.

The category four Typhoon Phanfone brought significant rain to the Suzuka Circuit on Sunday October 5th, but due to the Russian Grand Prix being scheduled for the following week freight concerns prevented organizers from delaying the Grand Prix until the next day. Charlie Whiting suggested that the race start time be changed, but both the circuit owners and FIA opposed changing the both to allow spectators to arrive at the circuit and due to television coverage concerns. The race began under the Safety Car and was suspended after two laps, then restarted under the Safety Car 20 minutes later. Conditions slowly improved, but there was still significant standing water on the track and heavy rain again began to fall in lap 36.

Adrian Sutil lost control of his Sauber and crashed at Dunlop Curve on lap 40. One lap later, Bianchi lost control at the same place and slid partway under the crane that was recovering Sutil’s Sauber. Striking the crane at 123 km/h, the impact was forceful enough to jolt the crane off the ground and cause the Sauber to drop back to the ground. In the crash, Bianchi’s Marussia sustained massive damage on its left side and its roll bar was destroyed. Later analysis determined that the impact generated a peak of 254 g. Bianchi was unresponsive, and was determined to have suffered significant head injuries.

As the medical helicopter was unable to land at the designated hospital, Mie Prefectural General Medical Center in nearby Yokkaichi, Jules was transported instead by ambulance, arriving 32 minutes later. He was rushed into surgery to reduce the severe bruising to his head. His first visitors included Graeme Lowdon, Marussia’s CEO, team principal John Booth, Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci, and Bianchi’s fellow driver Felipe Massa. Bianchi’s parents, siblings, and a close friend arrived over subsequent days.

Bianchi’s management team also visited Bianchi in hospital. FIA Medical Commission president Gerard Salliant was also present, and Ferrari continued to show its support for Jules by requesting that Sapienza University of Rome neurosurgeon professor Allesandro Frati travel to Japan. Ferrari’s outgoing president Luca di Montezemolo further told the media that Bianchi was to be the third Ferrari driver should the then-possible shift to three-car teams become a reality.

The Bianchi family publicly expressed appreciation for the support Jules had received thus far, as well as confirming that Bianchi had suffered a diffuse axonal injury in the crash. At this time, Bianchi was in critical but stable condition.

Though Marussia originally entered their reserve driver Alexander Rossi, the team elected to only run Chilton in the Russian Grand Prix. As a show of support, the team prepared and had Bianchi’s car scrutineered at Sochi, but did not race it. Perhaps Marussia’s fate would have been different had they raced Rossi. Perhaps Marussia’s financial backer Andrei Cheglakov would have continued to fund the team had Rossi turned in a respectable performance, but the tribute was fitting, expressing the hope that Bianchi would recover and rejoin the team.

The Formula One community, indeed the entire motorsport community, rallied in support of Bianchi. The day after the crash, Fellow Frenchman Jean-Éric Vergne arranged for all the drivers to wear stickers proclaiming “Tous avec Jules #17”, and the Marussia team added #JB17 to their livery. The successor Manor team continued this through the 2015 season. The hashtag #ForzaJules proliferated across social media, and along with #JB17 was even made into stickers in the physical world. Fans across the world used these stickers to visibly express their support for Jules. Moments of silence, race win dedications, and other tributes flowed from the community.

The FIA conducted an investigation into the incident, determining that while there were many contributing factors there was no single root cause of the crash. While Bianchi clearly hadn’t slowed enough under the double waved yellow, ‘enough’ wasn’t clearly defined. Bianchi lost control less than two minutes after Sutil, and the recovery crane had almost cleared the barriers, so the double waved yellow was considered enough under accepted practices. The crane’s presence itself wasn’t considered unusual, even though Martin Brundle nearly collided with a similar crane 20 years previously. The brake-by-wire system’s failure to cut off the throttle wasn’t definitively determined to have played a significant role, as Bianchi’s pressing the brake and throttle together may have been within acceptable parameters. Given the forces involved in the crash, no reasonable changes to the chassis could have helped.

Sadly, all the hope and support proved to be in vain. Though Bianchi was removed from an induced coma in November 2014 and able to breathe on his own, and was subsequently moved to Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice, he did not regain consciousness. His supporters, his family chief among them, initially took hope from Michael Schumacher’s improvement after his skiing head injury, however slow, but over time this hope waned.

Just over two years ago, on 17 July 2015, Jules Bianchi died. He never regained consciousness. A moment of silence, with the Bianchi family present, was observed at the Hungarian Grand Prix on 26 July.



Bianchi’s legacy includes positive safety developments ranging from improved rules and procedures such as the Virtual Safety Car and changes to recovery procedures, to additional head protection, including informing the process that led to 2018’s Halo. With the support of Prince Albert of Monaco Jules’ father Philippe created the Jules Bianchi Foundation to provide funding for promising young drivers. The Jules Bianchi #17 Association was also created to support the Unité de Soins des Cérébro-Lésés(Unit for brain damage) at Hôpital l’Archet in Nice.


The Bianchi family additionally filed a lawsuit against the FIA, Marussia, and the Formula One Group in May 2016.

This July, we are left with the memory of a promising career cut short, and a young life extinguished before its time.


Ferrari and Schumacher – The Perfect Match?

There are some partnerships in Formula One which are considered timeless. Senna and McLaren, Mansell and Williams, Clark and Lotus, but there’s arguably none more iconic than Ferrari and Michael Schumacher.

The legendary German spent ten years at Ferrari, and went on to win 72 races for the Prancing Horse, along with five consecutive world drivers championships.

He joined the team from Benetton in 1996 after winning the title in the two previous years. He was one of the hottest properties on the grid, and Ferrari tied him down to a long term contract. He showed early signs of the domination to come as he won the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix in the pouring rain, lapping everyone up to third place.

He also endeared himself to the ever-loyal Tifosi as he won at Monza, and ending the season in third place.

Williams were dominant in 1997, with Villeneuve leading at the midpoint of the season. Schumacher fought back and won five races, with it all going down to the finale at Jerez. With the Ferrari developing a coolant leak failure, it looked like the enigmatic German wouldn’t finish the race. As Villeneuve came up to pass him, Schumacher looked to cause a collision.

However it didn’t come off and Schumacher retired from the race with accident damage while Villeneuve won the title. Schumacher was punished by being excluded from the championship.

1998 saw Schumacher fight with new rival Mika Hakkinen in the McLaren. The mercurial Finn took the title after a strong fight with Schumacher. Controversially 1999 almost saw Schumacher join Hakkinen at McLaren, with Ron Dennis admitting he approached the German. However issues with sponsors and image rights meant Schumacher would remain at Ferrari.

It was at Silverstone where Schumacher’s title challenge ended. He crashed at Stowe, breaking his leg, putting him out for most of the season. Hakkinen won the title again.

2000 was the year it came together, with Schumacher and Hakkinen fighting again, with Rubens Barrichello joining him at the Scuderia. At the Italian Grand Prix, Schumacher won his 41st race, equalling the record of Ayrton Senna, which saw Schumacher famously break down in tears in the press conference post race.

It all came down to Japan, and after a stunning pit-stop strategy, Schumacher got past Hakkinen and sealed Schumacher’s third title and Ferrari’s first since Jody Scheckter in 1979.

2001 was dominant for Schumacher as no one came close to him and the Prancing Horse. He sealed the title with four races to go, and at the Belgian Grand Prix he broke the record for most wins, surpassing Alain Prost’s 51 wins.

2002 was an incredible year for Schumacher and Ferrari. 11 wins in 17 races, with Ferrari winning 15. However it wasn’t without controversy. At the Austrian Grand Prix, Barrichello was leading and looked set for the win, before being asked to move aside for Schumacher to win in his bid for the title. He moved aside, but not until the finish line, with the incredibly unpopular decision falling into farce as Schumacher made Barrichello stand on the top of the podium.

He equalled Juan Manuel Fangio’s five title wins as the records continued to tumble. However his sixth would be one of his hardest to win. McLaren’s new Finn Kimi Raikkonen emerged as a title contender.

It all came down to the decider in Japan, with Raikkonen or Schumacher able to win the title. All Schumacher had to do was finish eighth and the title was his. He stumbled to eighth place, and took his sixth title, by a single point from Raikkonen.

2004 was again, dominant. Breaking his own records and winning 13 races that season, winning his seventh and final title of his career.

2005 saw Fernando Alonso and Renault surge to the title, and Schumacher’s only win came at the farcical US Grand Prix in which only six cars started due to a tyre dispute. He would fight Alonso in 2006, winning seven races, with his 91st and final win coming in China.

He was mooted to come back to Formula One in 2009 after a couple of years out for the injured Felipe Massa, but a motorbike accident earlier in the year put pay to the romantic rumours.

While Schumacher’s career with the Scuderia was incredible, it had its moments of controversy. His most controversial moment came in 2006 round the streets of Monaco. During qualifying he tried to stop Alonso from securing pole by ‘parking his car’ at the Rascasse corner. He was demoted to the back of the grid as punishment of the incident.

However his controversial moments were easily outweighed by his magical moments. His fights with Mika Hakkinen were stuff of legend, as he was involved in fights race after race. Hakkinen is known as one of the only drivers Schumacher truly respected and feared, which was quite the accolade.

Though while his achievements are plentiful, Ferrari’s own version of the fab four is what Schumacher should also be remembered by. As Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Jean Todt and Rory Byrne helped resurrect the Prancing Horse and return them to their rightful place at the top step of the podium.

The quartet put Ferrari back at the top, and sealed their place in history as one of the most successful partnerships in the history of Formula One. While we have dominance nowadays with Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, I feel it’ll be a long time before we see a driver of the quality of Schumacher again.


The Lauda Years

There are few stories quite like Niki Lauda’s time at Ferrari during the mid-1970s.

From title wins to fireballs to disagreements over driver selection, the four-season relationship had an array of highs and lows. Lauda had paid for his previous drives at March and then BRM before joining Ferrari on the recommendation of new Ferrari recruit Clay Regazzoni in 1974, the duo working together at BRM.

The Austrian showed his potential early on with a second place at Round One in Argentina before taking Ferrari’s first victory in two years at the Spanish Grand Prix three races later. He would remain a challenger through the year on his way to fourth place in standings and picking up another win in Holland before the season was out. Lauda also gained a reputation during his first year at Ferrari for being studious of engineering and car setup and would work tirelessly to improve the car during his time in Maranello.

1975 would start slowly as the first four races would yield finishes no higher than fifth, but Ferrari’s updates put him back on track. He would win four of the next five races to put himself clear at the top of the title standings. Further points finishes in Germany and Austria would give him a chance to clinch a World Drivers’ Championship for Ferrari on their home soil. Third place gave him his first career World Championship and Ferrari’s first Constructors’ win since 1964 as teammate Regazzoni won the race at Monza.

Author: Lothar Spurzem

Lauda started 1976 in dominant fashion and swept all before him in the first six races – his worst finish being second twice during that period. Title rival James Hunt had shown flashes of brilliance in the early part of the year, but his McLaren was often unpredictable and also struggled with reliability during the early part of the season.

Round ten was the now infamous German Grand Prix. Lauda lobbied with other drivers to boycott the rain-soaked Grand Prix but was outnumbered. In a tragic irony he then crashed, and his Ferrari ignited. He was pulled eventually from the burning wreckage but extensive damage was done. He had suffered burns to his face and arms including losing most of his right ear, lost his eyelids and damaged his tear ducts which would affect him in further races and lost his scalp. That was supposed to be that. For his championship, for his career and possibly for his life.

Lauda didn’t follow the script and unexpected to almost everyone in the paddock, he returned – bandages and all – at the Italian Grand Prix just four races later. He took fourth, unable to blink with his skin-grafted eyelids and in obvious pain while Hunt had reduced his arrears during Lauda’s lay-off.

The Canadian Grand Prix went Hunt’s way as the maverick Briton won while Lauda finished out of the points in eighth, while in the USA Hunt won again but was joined his friend and rival. The 1976 Japanese Grand Prix was a race as wet as the fateful German Grand Prix and Lauda, still affected by his injuries, withdrew on safety grounds. That left Hunt needing third place to snatch the title away from Lauda, and after pitting from the lead he eventually worked his way back up to take the World Drivers’ Championship by a point. His decision to retire from that race didn’t sit well with Ferrari and his relationship with the team became more strained going into what would turn out to be his last year with the team. 

Despite taking just three wins in 1977 Lauda’s consistency against his rivals made his third title straightforward, but he announced his decision to join Brabham anyway. The Austrian was irked by his team’s decision to replace Regazzoni with Carlos Reutemann, with whom he did not enjoy a friendship as with Regazzoni. But he didn’t even make the end of the season. Upset with the team fielding a third car with then-unknown Gilles Villeneuve, Lauda walked out at the Canadian Grand Prix two races from the end of the season.

Lauda won 15 races and two World Drivers’ Championships at Ferrari, but his time there will be remembered for so much more than just his accolades. It will also be remembered for his sheer bravery and battle to return against the odds.



The Ferrari Driver Academy

The Ferrari Driver Academy, while not boasting a history quite as illustrious as the junior programme of, say, Red Bull, can trace its history back to 2002. It unofficially began with Ferrari’s grooming of Felipe Massa as they readied him for a shot in a race seat, which he would eventually take in 2006. However, it wasn’t until 2010 that the academy was formally created, with the late Jules Bianchi becoming the FDA’s inaugural member. He is, to date, the only driver to make it to Formula 1 as part of the programme.


Currently, the Ferrari Driver Academy boasts six racers. Brazilian Enzo Fittipaldi (grandson of the two-time Formula 1 world champion) and New Zealand born Marcus Armstrong are both competing in Formula 4, and are new additions to the programme for 2017. Formula 2 driver Antonio Fuoco has been a member since 2013, and Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou (racing in the European Formula 3 championship) since 2014. Last year the FDA recruited Guiliano Alesi (son of former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi), currently racing in GP3, and man of the moment Charles Leclerc, who is partnering Fuoco in Formula 2. It is interesting to note that all of these drivers are currently competing in their respective series with the junior outfit Prema Powerteam, with the exception of Alesi, but this may have more to do with the fact that Prema do not currently run a team in GP3.

With the vast resources of a legendary team such as Ferrari, and the apparent arrangement with a junior team as successful as Prema, the few drivers who are lucky enough to be a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy seem to be well placed to make a swift ascent to Formula 1, and eventually to a hallowed seat at Ferrari itself. But is this really the case?

The FDA’s track record would certainly suggest otherwise. Since the official creation of the Ferrari Driver Academy, only one driver has ever made it to Formula 1 as part of the system, and while it is almost certain that Bianchi would have earned himself a Ferrari seat, had it not been for his tragic and fatal accident, his is a lone and outlying example. The mission statement for the junior program quotes Enzo Ferrari – “I love to think that Ferrari can create drivers as much as cars” – but it is debatable whether the team itself has bought into this philosophy.

While it is undeniable that the FDA can equip a driver well for his journey up the single seater ladder, in terms of training both in and out of the car, even the drivers themselves seem to question whether the junior program can take them all the way. Current Formula 1 driver Lance Stroll was a member for five years, leaving the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2015 so he could join Williams’ junior team. To many it might have seemed like a step down, to move from a front runner such as Ferrari to a midfield team like Williams. But clearly the Canadian saw that better opportunities for progression lay elsewhere, and his promotion to Formula 1 proves that was exactly the case.

Unlike Red Bull, whose junior program is perhaps the most well established and successful, they do not have a de facto ‘B Team’ like the Austrian team do with Toro Rosso. However, Mercedes do not either, but they successfully managed to get two of their junior drivers; Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon, onto the 2017 grid. Maybe Ferrari feel secure in the knowledge that they will rarely have a problem filling their seats – a drive with the coveted Italian team is probably the most sought after in motorsport. But they would do well to prove that they have belief in their young protégées, and deploy the appropriate resources. Having successful drivers from their stable should be as treasured of an achievement as race wins.

So what can Ferrari do to make the most out of their driver academy? The most obvious is to take a chance on their young drivers. Ferrari is traditionally conservative in their driver choices, preferring to invest in known quantities than rookies. But this comes at the detriment of its own young drivers. While no one is suggesting they promote one of their drivers to a Ferrari seat immediately, to be seen actively pursuing a race seat for some of them would go a long way.

Although it is not something that is always within their control, if Ferrari could use one of the teams they supply engines to as a stepping stone to develop their young drivers, in a similar way to how Red Bull use Toro Rosso, then that would be ideal. Sauber, with the announcement that they will, after all, be using Ferrari engines in 2018, are well placed to do just this. Of course, it may not be the direction Sauber want their team to go in, but from Ferrari’s point of view, it is the perfect continuation of the FDA.

So have Ferrari taken steps to instil more confidence in their junior drivers? Evidence wouldn’t suggest so. And perhaps they haven’t needed to. Until 2017, none of their junior drivers were realistically in line for a F1 seat, let alone a seat at Ferrari. But signing up GP2 graduate Antonio Giovinazzi as their third driver for this year gave them someone who was in a position to step up. And now the unexpected dominance of 2016 GP3 champion Charles Leclerc has brought another figure into the frame

Suddenly Ferrari are faced with a dilemma they have never encountered before. They have two drivers whom, ideally, they should be finding race seats for. Both Leclerc and Giovinazzi have expressed their total faith in Ferrari to do what’s best for them. Yet there seems to be an unwillingness from Ferrari’s part to exert some influence in using the FDA to take their drivers all the way.


The future of Ferrari lies in such drivers, but it is the team itself that seems to fail to see that.

John Barnard and the Ferrari gearbox that revolutionised Formula One

Formula One steering wheels are now awash with buttons including engine map settings, brake bias settings and paddles to shift gears. These are all now things we take for granted as Formula One cars become more like computers and get more and more complicated. As with everything in Formula One, it took one piece of genius to set the ball rolling with this technological innovation that we now see as the norm.

Ferrari 640 Cockpit (Unattributed)

Ferrari have been pioneers for a lot of things in Formula One but one of the most ground-breaking was the semi-automatic, electronic gear shift system that we now know as the flappy-paddle gearbox. After fabled designer John Barnard joined Ferrari from McLaren in 1987, the Englishman quickly set to work on what became Ferrari’s 1989 challenger after arriving too late to influence the 1987 car and reliability issues with new transmission hampering 1988. With 1988 being the last of the turbo years, Barnard wanted to focus in detail on 1989 and beyond.
Formula One cars used to have a clutch pedal and stick shift as are in most road cars and Ferrari’s technical chief felt that the wider cockpits that came with this system unnecessarily increased drag. The system was fist tested during 1988 and hit reliability problems as Ferrari’s pioneering technology encountered the expected hiccups. Despite that, Barnard elected to run the F1-89, or 640, with the revolutionary transmission from the start of 1989, although not expecting it to make the finish of the season-opening Brazilian Grand Prix. Even with the low expectations, the F1-89 was the most eagerly anticipated car of 1989 as teams and drivers watched and wondered about the new technology. Both Williams’ of Thierry Boutsen and Ricciardo Patrese fell by the wayside while Ayrton Senna also hit mechanical strife to leave Nigel Mansell out front.
Mansell wasn’t expected to stay there as in testing the gearbox had only lasted around half a race distance, but to the surprise of many including a large number of Ferrari personnel the Brit held off Alain Prost’s McLaren and the semi-automatic transmission won on debut. That would be the only points for the Scuderia until Round Seven at the French Grand Prix as they sought to solve the gearbox teething problems. The problem was found to be a lack of power from the battery to the electrical gearbox, and results including a further two victories came with reliability as the car proved to be fast.
For 1990 Ferrari challenged for the title with Alain Prost and had a clear head start in electronic transmission, but the years 1991-94 proved to be fruitless and other teams caught up in the new electronic era of Formula One. Every team had electronic gearshift technology by 1995, and the concept is now a staple of the modern motorsport world. The equipment has even made it onto many road cars we use today.
And it all came from a drawing in a workshop in Guildford.

#FerrariWeek – The quiz

Welcome to your Ferrari Week Quiz

During which season and at what race did Ferrari score their first one-two podium?

Who won their first WDC driving a Ferrari F1 car?

During which race did Rob Smedley say to Felipe Massa the legendary quote 'Fernando is faster than you'?

What was Ferrari's worst finish in the constructors championship?

How many wins has Ferrari scored in Italy?

How many consecutive constructors championship have Ferrari won in a row? (Their longest streak)

How many teams have used Ferrari engines? (1950-2017)

How many Finns have raced in Ferrari colours?

What was Ferrari's first race in F1?

What driver has spent the most seasons driving for Ferrari?

How many races did Michael Schumacher win for Scuderia Ferrari?