It was a good opportunity to go home, the real one, as Ayrton Senna did when he flew to Brazil, where he found winter. Piquet, also Brazilian, remained faithful to vacation classic on the Mediterranean Sea, with its yacht crowded with different girls at every mooring. Nelson’s favorite destinations were the Costa Smeralda and Corsica. Niki Lauda was punctually in the Balearics, imitated by Keke Rosberg. Nigel Mansell spread out in his Isle of Man mansion, taking in a pale sun beside a freezing swimming pool. Gerhard Berger was running around with his beautiful boat on the Côte d’Azur, while Gilles Villeneuve was doing acrobatics with Tullio Abbate’s offshore in the always agitated stretch of water in front of Monte Carlo.
In that scenario, Enzo Ferrari he stayed in his favorite place, Fiorano, in front of the factory. For many years he had a villa on the Adriatic Sea, in Viserba, but he went there from morning to evening because he preferred to sleep in Modena. His wife Laura, on the other hand, stayed there for long periods. In more recent times, Alesi went to Sicily to visit relatives and friends, Hakkinen did not leave Munich, Schumacher remained armored in his villa in Switzerland.
And where are the pilots going today? Mystery, even if it were a question of state secrets. Someone, following the example of the players and followers of Ferragni, post photos in costume with the sea in the background, but without specifying the location. Verstappen and his girlfriend Kelly Piquet, Nelson’s daughter, we saw them smiling (him) in a Caribbean location, if we don’t get it wrong. Hamilton may have flown to the States, but before that he spent some days in Monte Carlo, where he was photographed aboard his Pagani Zonda.
A quiet summer for modern Formula 1, given that “market” not much is said as the top posts are all confirmed. There is only one wobbly seat, that of Valtteri Bottas (Instagram shows him cycling in Colorado), who has disappointed Mercedes’ expectations, if not for some help given here and there to Hamilton. Too little. Mercedes needs two fast drivers, even if the claims of those who wonder why Bottas is so distant from Hamilton and Perez can’t make Verstappen’s times are absurd. Yeah: but maybe Irvine was as fast as Schumacher and Nakajima was as fast as Senna on the same car? Phenomena are phenomena and it is a waste of time to turn around the problem of numbers 2.
By now the fate of Bottas appears marked. As it turns out at the moment (in F1 there is nothing certain), he will have to leave the Mercedes and probably marry to the Ferrari-powered Sauber: his notes on the engine could be precious for the Maranello engineers. It remains to be seen whether he will replace an equally disappointing Raikkonen or poor Antonio Giovinazzi, who has never been properly protected within the team.
The predestined in Mercedes is George Russell, British like Hamilton and quite rampant. A solid driver, now endowed with considerable experience after two years of Williams and many tests (plus one race) with Mercedes, he could be the man of tomorrow for the German brand, with the full support of Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Ineos, also British, representing a substantial share of the team’s shareholding. Hamilton certainly won’t like it, but at 37 (in 2022) he’ll get over it. Everything will depend on how this championship goes, because the conquest of the eighth title would put Lewis in an iron barrel, giving him a perennial aura: and at that point he could even play at being Russell’s “tutor”. In the event of a defeat in the current world championship, however, the situation would change because at that point, between the two, it would be open war to go hunting for the 2022 title: and Mercedes would not care if the one prevailed rather than the other. In any case, let’s be clear, Hamilton today is cheering on Bottas’ stay.
However, the times in which August prepared the barrels for the drivers’ market are very far away, from Lauda announcing the second and definitive withdrawal, to Berger who in great secret (!) Arrived at Bologna airport to sign with Ferrari and tourists in leaving for Mikonos they complimented him asking for his autograph. Not to mention the great shot by Michael Schumacher to Ferrari, sensational news that president Luca di Montezemolo was preparing to give back from his holidays in Capri, looking forward to the front pages of all the newspapers and the opening of the news. Instead the scoop was mockingly burned by the lawyer Gianni Agnelli Thursday 10 August 1995, while all Formula 1 was in Budapest for the Hungarian GP. The number 1 of the Fiat Group showed up in Villar Perosa in the afternoon to attend Juventus’ pre-season training. And when asked if Ferrari would have hired Schumacher he replied with a well-calculated candor that surprised everyone: “I think they have already taken him….”.
Days earlier, the Maranello press office had flatly and definitively denied that negotiations were underway with the German champion. Agnelli also added that “when you have Schumacher and you don’t win, then the fault becomes theirs”, to clarify who would be responsible in case of failure of the very expensive operation. In order not to miss anything, he also spoke of the shaky stay of Jean Alesi, commenting with a “it seems unlikely” the hypothesis of a confirmation. Then he abruptly changed the subject and wanted to discuss only football.
It was other August. And other characters.
FP | Pino Allievi
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