Posts Tagged 'Ferrari'

24/8/97 ….. Schumacher wins Belgian GP

Spa 1997 (

Thirteen years ago today …… Michael Schumacher scored his 26th victory at the 1997 Belgian Grand Prix. The racetrack was virtually flooded before the start of the race, and therefore it was too dangerous for a normal “standing start”. For the first time in F1 history, the race was started behind the safety car. Jacques Villeneuve was in pole position, followed by Jean Alesi in the Benetton, and Schumacher in third.

The cars followed the safety car for a number of laps, until the track’s condition had improved. Twenty-two cars and a safety car cleared the track surface of excess water quickly. Michael Schumacher quickly demonstrated that he was the “Rain Master”, passing Alesi into La Source with a very brave move. Schumacher caught and passed Villeneuve easily, and left his competitors for dead. Jacques was never a brilliant performer in the wet, and the Williams FW19 wasn’t a dominant force in those conditions.

Schumacher crossed the line 26 seconds ahead of second-place man Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan Peugeot). Michael would go on to challenge Villenueve for the Championship. It all ended in tears, as Schumacher would collide with the Canadian during the final round at Jerez, and was excluded from the entire Championship!

Rossi’s F1 Test

Earlier this week reigning MotoGP Champion Valentino Rossi took part in a two-day F1 test, at the Circuit de Catalunya. Rossi was pleasantly surprised by his lap times, and he suggested that a move from MotoGP to F1 was possible.

Rossi’s Ferrari F2008 was operated by Ferrari’s “Corse Clienti” division, rather than the F1 racing team. This was due to the F1 testing ban, which ends on February 1st. Rossi’s car was fitted with GP2-specification “slick” tyres, as part of the F1 test ban. I personally dislike the testing ban, but I fully understand the need to reduce costs in Formula One.

Valentino’s best time was 1′ 21.9″, which was very respectable. Let’s compare his performance to the 2008 Ferrari drivers at the same circuit. The first two qualifying sessions for the 2008 Spanish GP were run with low fuel levels*. Kimi Raikkonen’s fastest lap was 1′ 20.7″, whilst Felipe Massa’s best time was 1′ 20.5″. If you look at the lap times “on paper”, Rossi was over a second off the pace, but Rossi’s time must be seen in context. He was running on GP2 slick tyres, and not 2008-spec grooved Bridgestones. The 2008 Qualifying session took place in sunny conditions, but Rossi’s test took place in much cooler weather. The lower temperature should have been an advantage to Rossi, as cooler air equates to higher air density, and therefore more engine power. Another factor to consider is that Corse Clienti may have been running the F2008 conservatively, compared to the F1 team’s “all-out” 2008 efforts. The engine may have been “de-tuned” to conserve its mechanical condition, and the aero package may have been different … only Clienti know the answer to that! Interestingly, Felipe Massa drove the car at the same circuit today (Jan 22 2010), so Ferrari will be able to make a comparison, using telemetry.

(* From 2003 to 2009, the third qualifying session (Q3) took place with heavy race fuel loads, and the times were slower. I therefore disregarded those times. If Rossi set that time with a detuned engine and a heavy fuel load …. he is a genius!).