Some three thousand people will be present as spectators on Sunday at the anniversary party of Ferrari, which is finishing the thousandth race in the history of Formula 1 on the home circuit of Mugello.
The party on the circuit, which has never organised a grand prix in Formula 1 before and is owned by Ferrari itself, will be a subdued celebration.
The rearing horse is turning such a dramatic season in the royal class of motor racing that the Italians are now feeling the red of shame on their jaws. Despite the lousy results, the popularity of the red racing car is still unprecedented.
“The strength of Ferrari is that the team always comes back. That is only a matter of time. A good film doesnt always have a good ending either. The sadness of loss is the motivation to be able to win again soon“, former Formula 1 driver and CCeit analyst Jan Lammers describes the current situation around the Italian team.
Where does the divine status of the Italian race stable come from? Is it the striking red colour (which this weekend, by the way, gave way to the burgundy colour used in 1950), the appearance of the sports cars that the car manufacturer puts on the road, the combination of elegance and success or the wilfulness of founder Enzo Ferrari?
Lammers thinks it is a combination of all these factors. “There is a way of life behind it. At Ferrari you immediately think of the Roman era, with gladiators. The rearing horse stands for the Italian temperament. Red is the colour of love, of passion. All that radiates from Ferraris cars too”
Ferrari is the first racing driver to reach the milestone of a thousand Formula 1 races on Sunday. That could have been 1001 on Sunday if Enzo Ferrari hadnt decided to boycott the first Formula 1 World Championship race at Silverstone on 13 May 1950.
The Italian felt he was getting too little starting money from the organisers and sent three racing cars to Mons in Belgium for a Formula 2 race. There Ferrari dominated the race and the drivers earned enough money to persuade the boss of the race stable to enter the second F1 race for the World Championship, on 21 May 1950 in the playground for billionaires Monaco.
It was the beginning of a story that has become legendary. Fifteen times a Ferrari driver crowned himself World Champion in Formula 1, and the race stable won the constructors world title sixteen times.
Just a few more details: 238 GP victories, 228 pole positions, 772 podium finishes; racing heroes such as Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter and Michael Schumacher celebrated great Formula 1 successes at the wheel of the characteristic red racing car. No race stable can provide such figures.
However, things have not been so good in recent years, despite attracting respected drivers (Fernando Alonso/2010-2014 and Sebastian Vettel/2015-2020). The last world title dates back to 2007, when the Finn Kimi Räikkönen showed the best.
The decline has little effect on Ferraris popularity. The famous car brand produces more than 10,000 cars a year for the (rich) consumer market, the F1 team has the two most coveted seats in the royal class.
Lammers and Ferrari
Lammers was once close to such a seat. In 1982, Gilles Villeneuve lost his life on the circuit of Zolder. Ferrari then looked for a second driver.
“I had an appointment with Ferrari on Friday evening around the United States Grand Prix. During practice, however, I broke a thumb. Instead of the appointment at the hotel I was in hospital”, remembers Lammers. “Ferrari then chose Patrick Tambay. The rest is history.”
Every driver dreams of a place in the Ferrari Formula 1 team. “Ferrari is magic. There are no bad moments to go to Ferrari. Not even when things are going badly. If I were asked a hundred times, I would say yes a hundred times. Without any doubt”, Carlos Sainz did not hide his admiration.
The Spaniard will take over from Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari next season. The meagre results of recent years have cost the German his place at Ferrari. Team boss Mattia Binotto is also under great pressure. “As a child I was already a fan of Ferrari and I never imagined that I would hold this position”, he looked ahead to the jubilee race in Mugello this week.
“It is a big responsibility. There is so much history here. Ferrari was always there since its debut, never absent, won most races and titles; for me it is a great honour to lead this team”, says Binotto.
Binottos passion is shared worldwide. Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is also a fan of Ferrari. He has a few of his own at home. “Without Ferrari, Formula 1 would look very different. Ferrari has meant a lot to Formula 1”, the Mercedes driver noted this week.
Would Formula 1 be possible without Ferrari? Lammers turns it around. “Ferrari without Formula 1 is unthinkable”, is his conviction.