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Formula 1

Schumacher, Ferrari, and the 1996 Spanish GP

The story of Michael Schumacher’s first win with Ferrari.

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The Ferrari team celebrates Michael Schumacher’s win in the Ferrari F310 at the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix. (Photo by: motorsport.com)

“Racing is a great mania to which one must sacrifice everything, without reticence, without hesitation.”

Enzo ferrari

In the storied halls of Maranello, where the reddest of dreams are forged in metal and determination, rests a legacy marked by victories as well as the unwavering pursuit of excellence in the face of difficulty. The saga of Ferrari’s Formula 1 journey is a tale of never giving up and pushing the boundaries of innovation. The heritage of the ‘Prancing Horse’ wasn’t built overnight. What people often forget is the struggle that the Scuderia Ferrari team faced over the years before they eventually met success in the 2000s. In this article, we delve into the story of Ferrari’s return to glory. We emphasize the critical juncture when Schumacher secured his first win, paving the way for their incredible turnaround.

Niki Lauda driving the iconic Ferrari 312T in 1975. (Photo Credit: motorsport.com)

How Ferrari Fared: From 1975 Glory to Schumacher’s Arrival in 1996

Back in 1975, the Ferrari 312T with Niki Lauda at the wheel restored Scuderia Ferrari to the top, ending the era of British Formula 1 dominance. Success continued to grace the Maranello-based team in 1977 and 1979, with Lauda and Jody Scheckter winning the Drivers’ Championships, respectively. However, what followed was unexpected. After dominating the second half of the 1970s, the Italian team couldn’t adapt to the greater aerodynamic needs that came to the sport at the turn of the 1980s. A Constructors’ Championship in 1983 wasn’t enough to uphold the stature the team had built up to that period. The drought for a Drivers’ Championship followed, lasting 21 years, marking a challenging period in their renowned history.

Although a resurgent Ferrari saw six wins in the 1990 season but went winless in the following three (1991, 1992, and 1993) and managed only one win each in 1994 and 1995. Amidst this backdrop, 1994 and 1995 saw the young and incredibly talented driver Michael Schumacher win back-to-back World Championships with Benetton. Ferrari’s team principal, Jean Todt, recognised Schumacher’s talent and work ethic as the keys to revitalising the team. In 1996, Todt convinced Schumacher to join Ferrari for a salary of $60 million over two years. This was the start of a ground-breaking and revolutionary collaboration that would take Ferrari back to the top of the sport.

Schumacher testing the 1995 Ferrari 412 T2 at the Estoril circuit in Portugal. (Photo Credit: Respective Owners)

As winter settled over the Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, there was a sense of optimism in the air. During the off-season testing of the 1995 Ferrari, Schumacher was causing ripples in the paddock with his lap times. He was lapping nearly two seconds faster than the team’s existing drivers. Schumacher’s ability to extract performance from the car hinted that he could potentially reshape Ferrari’s future.

“Schumacher was outstanding, back in 1996, not just for his speed on the track, but for the incredible energy and commitment he brought to the job as a whole, and which he made his business to transmit to everyone else around him. Jean Todt, brought in to head the team, started to describe Schumacher as a ‘reference point’: the person whose remorseless work ethic, whose focus and whose relative unflappability (by the standards of F1) became a benchmark for the most junior mechanic, the most senior engine technician, for Todt himself”

as described by renowned author Charles Jennings in his book ‘BURNING RUBBER: THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF FORMULA ONE’

Schumacher’s 1996 Season with Ferrari

With the dawn of the 1996 Formula 1 season, expectations were running high. Schumacher, donning the iconic red overalls of Ferrari, was ready to face the grid. However, as the season unfolded, it became clear that Ferrari’s latest challenger, the F310, had several issues. Due to its lack of balance, downforce, and grip, the car was unable to keep up with competitors like McLaren and Williams. However, it was in the seventh round, the Spanish Grand Prix, that Schumacher and the team made their breakthrough.

Race start amidst rain at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. (Photo Credit: motorsport.com)

Raindrops and Glory: The 1996 Spanish GP

Throughout the entire race day, there was a relentless downpour of torrential rain. It is difficult to imagine a Grand Prix that was more wet, and the weather was terrible. Despite starting from pole position in the Williams-Renault, Damon Hill had trouble from the outset, spinning twice in the opening few laps. Schumacher, who started in third place, also didn’t get an ideal start. However, by the thirteenth lap, Schumacher had overtaken Hill’s teammate, Jacques Villeneuve, and taken the lead. From that point on, the German driver frequently outpaced his rivals by up to five seconds per lap, displaying his mastery in the wet conditions. Williams’ approach of anticipating rainy conditions in contrast to Ferrari’s complete commitment to a wet weather setup also contributed to the notable disparity in performance.

Ultimately, Schumacher finished 45 seconds ahead of the second-placed Benetton and 48 seconds ahead of the third-placed Williams of Jacques Villeneuve. He also lapped every car that finished outside the podium. This showcased why he is regarded as one of the best drivers under changing conditions and why his admirers lovingly refer to him as the “Rainmaster.” The Spanish Grand Prix in 1996 is regarded as one of the German’s finest races. It was the start of a legacy that would define an era of dominance and excellence.

Schumacher on the podium celebrating his maiden win for Ferrari alongside team principal Jean Todt at the Spanish Grand Prix. (Photo Credit: motorsport.com)

Aftermath

As the rain fell over the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, it washed away all the doubts and struggles. It paved the way for a future where Ferrari and Schumacher would reign supreme. The victory at the Spanish Grand Prix was merely a glimpse of the success yet to come. Schumacher and Ferrari dominated Formula 1 from 2000 to 2004, taking home five Drivers’ Championships and five Constructors’ Championships. Their success was not just due to the extraordinary driving skills of Schumacher. It was also due to the remarkable synergy between him and the team. Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, and the entire Ferrari team worked in perfect harmony. Each tends to blend into the next, creating a formidable force in the sport.

Michael Schumacher celebrates ending Ferrari’s 21-year drought by winning the 2000 World Championship with his team. (Photo Credit: motorsport.com)

Dive into Schumacher’s career achievements and stats on: https://motorsportstats.com/driver/michael-schumacher/summary/series/fia-formula-one-world-championship

Here is DRC’s preview for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix: Spanish Grand Prix 2024: European Triple Header Kicks Off at Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona

Formula 1

A Three way Battle in Budapest: The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Formula One returns to the historic Hungaroring, a tight twisty and unpredictable race track. Read DRC’s race preview here.

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As Red-Bull and Mclaren pull away from the field, Mercedes joins the party. With three race winning cars on track, all three will look to bag good points, while Ferrari will be hopeful for a better result. Welcome to DRC’s F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Read the British Grand Prix Review here.


Know the Hungaroring

The tight and twisty Hungaroring track is located in Mogyorod, 11 miles west of the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Described as an enlarged go-kart circuit, it is one of the most technically challenging circuits on the calendar.

The Hungaroring Circuit.
The Hungaroring circuit. Photo credits: F1

The 14 corner track is also called Monaco without the walls, owing to it’s high downforce requirements. Even though overtaking is very difficult here, the track has undergone only one major revision, which was in 2003. The main straight was extended another 200 meters to make it 900m long, and the first corner was tightened to promote overtaking.

The track contains two back-to-back DRS zones, followed by a technical middle sector full of chicanes and esses. The final sector is a short one, only featuring two hairpins that feed back into the main straight. A good middle sector is crucial here.

Historically, Hungary has been a circuit full of firsts. It was the first and only circuit to host a race beyond the Iron Curtian. It is also famous for giving drivers their first wins. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and most recently, Esteban Ocon have taken their first wins here. Max Verstappen took his first pole back in 2019 at the Hungaroring too.

The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix will consist of 70 laps around this 4.381 kilometer circuit, with a two stop strategy as the norm.


Red Bull look to fight back blow for blow

Over the last few races, Red Bull has fallen off the pace and is slowly falling into the clutches of McLaren, and even Ferrari. Right now, Red Bull lead Ferrari by 71 points, closely followed by McLaren. With both McLaren cars consistently finishing in the top 5 in the last races bar Norris’s retirement in Austria, and Checo only scoring 8 points in the last five races, it has become difficult for Max and Red Bull to outscore the Papaya clad team.

McLaren’s last upgrade has significantly improved their performance, while Red Bull is still struggling to find and mend the issues with the RB20. Verstappen recently tested the RB18 at Imola, in an attempt to figure out the problem with the new car. As Red Bull work hard to rectify their problems, McLaren seems to be getting better and better. And now with Mercedes back in the fray, a new challenger is rising to take their throne.

Max Verstappen testing the RB18 at Imola.
Max Tests the RB18 in Imola. Image cradits: Autosport

Another factor is the two on one that Max has to face. With Checo qualifying poorly, Max has to take on the McLaren, and sometimes the Mercedes pair alone. Two cars in the mix would greatly help Red Bull, and Checo will be motivated to improve his Qualifying and Race records.


Mercedes on the up as Hamilton eyes another record

The Hungaroring has always been kind to Mercedes. They have the most wins here in the Turbo-Hybrid era. Russell and Hamilton snatched pole here in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Hamilton has also won eight races here, and his first victory with Mercedes came here in 2013.

Mercedes usually nail the set-up here. With the team riding high after back-to-back victories in Austria and Silverstone, they would love to go for a treble. Lewis Hamilton will also eye a record equaling nine victories. After his win in Silverstone, he now holds the record for most wins at a single circuit with 9.

George Russell also has a fantastic track record here, finishing in the points every year since 2021, where he came eight for a struggling Williams. A podium and a top 5 finish followed in 2022 and 2023.

Mercedes will want to secure a large bag of points here, to reduce the 152 points defecit they have to the leaders Red Bull and to catch up with McLaren and Ferrari.


A Ferrari Renaissance on the Horizon?

Ferrari seems to have dropped off after their excellent performances in Melbourne and Monaco. This year, Ferrari seem to be a heavily down-force reliant car, with podiums for Charles and Carlos in Sakhir, Jeddhah, Melbourne and Suzuka, all tracks which require downforce. Of course their victories on the streets of Melbourne and Monte-Carlo confirms this.

Charles Leclerc Wins in Monaco.
Ferrari have dominated the Downforce heavy circuits. Image Credit: Anonymous

Their struggles at the more balanced tracks of Canada and Barcelona, along with power heavy tracks like Austria and Silverstone have cost them dearly. It is also evident that the Ferrari is one of the more draggy cars on the straights and struggle with straight line speed.

As the Hungaroring is a heavy-downforce track, it seems like Ferrari have a shot at victory here. This might be one of the few chances for them to get points during the European Leg of the season, along with Zandvoort and Baku. Consequently, Ferrari have bought new floor upgrades to make most of this valuable chance. A huge points haul in the Hungarian Grand Prix will solidify their chances against McLaren, Red Bull and even Mercedes who look threatening.


Dark Clouds loom over the race

An alarming video was shared by Mikey Brown, a mechanic at Aston Martin, shows the Pitlane flooding in what he described as “a HUGE storm” . McLaren, having barely repaired their motorhome in time for the British GP after the fire in Catalunya, have suffered another issue. The repaired motorhome has lost it’s roof multiple times over this week, thanks to the speedy winds.

Even though Meteorologists predict a dry weekend, a small rain shower, combined with the high humidity in Hungary this time of year can put the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in doubt.


Championship Standings

This is how the championship looks as we head into the race weekend:

The 2024 Formula One world championship standings as of 18/07/2024.
Credits: F1

Race Weekend Schedule

All events during the weekend are available to watch on F1TV and Fancode. The times given below are in IST(GMT +5:30).

DRC's Hungarian Grand Prix Race weekend schedule.

Follow Desi Racing Co to keep up to date with the speedy world of motorsports.

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Formula 1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas in an exhilarating return to F1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas to back a sensational return to F1.

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As the F1 silly season continues, a rather surprising bit of rumour is that the world’s largest automaker, Toyota, is set to return to the F1 grid as early as 2025 with the Haas F1 team.

Credits: Haas F1 team

The partnership is said to start out with a sponsorship deal, possibly with a renaming on the cards. A deal akin to that of Alfa Romeo and Sauber. With the possibility of a future technical partnership on the chassis/engine development. Toyota will likely join Dallara in assisting Haas for the chassis. Other talks suggest that Haas will use Toyota’s facilities for development and manufacturing. While this means Toyota won’t be directly involved in the construction of the F1 car, it means Haas gets a huge boost in infrastructure, experience, etc; and Toyota gets a new source of income.

Toyota’s history in F1

The Japanese manufacturer has seen immense success in WEC, taking 5 consecutive 24 hours of Le Mans victories from 2018 to 2022 and WRC, clinching the manufacturers’ championship in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and the championship for drivers and co-drivers every year since 2019. It wasn’t so for its time in F1, or at least according to Toyota’s standards and ambition.

Credits: Toyota-europe.com

Toyota made their debut F1 in 2002. The team scored 17 podiums, and 3 pole positions but never achieved a victory. Only securing 2nd place as their best finish till they dropped out of the sport in 2009, midway through the development of the 2010 car.

What does this mean for Haas, Toyota, and F1?

Toyota’s failure was blamed on a lot of factors, this deal gave the Japanese manufacturer a second chance to right their wrongs. Haas has been on a consistent upward trajectory throughout the 2024 season. With Nico Hulkenberg scoring back-to-back P6 finishes at the Austrian and British GP, and Kevin Magnussen backing that up with commendable performances. The deal could help Haas gain the brute force of employees, resources & financial aid. Something that they have been lacking to make a meaningful impact in the sport.

F1 would most certainly benefit from having a Japanese Manufacturer in the sport. The Japanese GP attendance and the growing popularity of F1 have been steadily increasing in the country. Toyota’s return could also provide F1 with a boost to their competitiveness and financial gains.

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Formula 1

GIFT City’s Formula 1 Racetrack Plans Hit a Roadblock

GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a Formula 1 racetrack has stalled due to structural issues and high costs, sources reveal. Initially flagged off with a feasibility study, the project now faces uncertainties.

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Gujarat’s GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a racetrack for holding Formula 1 (F1) races has come to a grinding halt just four months after initiating a feasibility study and selecting consultants, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier this year, on March 11, the Gujarat Sports Authority announced that top international F1 racetrack designers were invited to present the feasibility of constructing an F1 racetrack at GIFT City. The project saw intense competition among global designers, with the consortium of renowned German designer Hermann Tilke and India’s Arcop architects emerging as the frontrunner for the feasibility study.

GIFT City (Photo: Amit Dave/Reuters)

However, GIFT City’s plan has been halted, insiders revealed. “Designers had given feedback that given the layout of GIFT City, it may be difficult to build a racetrack that conforms to F1 standards due to structural issues,” said one source.

The financial implications also pose a significant hurdle. Estimates place the cost of building such a racetrack between Rs 5,000 and 10,000 crore.

R.S. Ninama, Director General of the Gujarat Sports Authority, and Hermann Tilke have not responded to inquiries from ET. Another source indicated that the project might be integrated into a larger plan for developing infrastructure for the Olympics. “So, you may get a racetrack, but not one that can host F1 races,” the source added.

GIFT City, located in Gandhinagar, has been developed as a financial hub. The city is aimed at attracting international businesses with various tax incentives. The government is focusing on enhancing the city’s livability by developing entertainment and leisure infrastructure. Notable projects include an underwater aquarium, water sports facilities, and a retail zone featuring a 158-meter-high Ferris wheel.

This story has been derived from a story reported by Economic Times.

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