Mamma mia, I’m leaving. At the Ferrari, in Formula 1, a championship start like the one we are experiencing these days, they have not seen for twenty years. And there are not a few. But even more sensational is the fact that perhaps they have not seen a winning car designed by an Italian team (a ‘team’ as they say nowadays). Now – you will say – I drank my brain to say these things, am I cursing?
It may be, but let’s look at the story carefully. In the sixties we find two World Titles, in 1961 with Phil Hill and in 1964 with John Surtees, then the darkness until the seventies. It must be said that Ferrari was all oriented, in those years, on Prototype races and we will never know what it would have achieved if it had applied itself with the same commitment to Formula 1, but the numbers are numbers and what was unleashed in Maranello at the beginning of the seventies only the Eternal Father knows: changes of Technical Management, chassis built in England, others (it is said) sawn in two overnight, endless controversies on all fronts. Then came the legendary seventies and the magical string of Niki Lauda (1975, 1977) and Jody Scheckter (1979), and let’s not forget Clay Regazzoni’s 1974 and 1976 when Lauda would have won again hands down if he hadn’t been for the well-known Nurburgring accident. There could have been five titles almost in a row (apart from the 1978 parenthesis due to Colin Chapman’s devilry who let everyone know how important the air flow that passes under the car was).
Can they be considered successes of an Italian team effort? For heaven’s sake, ‘Furia’ Forghieri was certainly not alone in the Technical Office and had a valid team (i.e. a ‘team’) of collaborators, but I still consider them his personal achievementsdue to his creativity and intuition: the transverse gearbox, the 180 ° 12-cylinder, certain excessively large bodies were for the most part “Flour from his sack”reviving the healthiest tradition of “Genius Italico”, that of the man alone in command (maximum two if we include Enzo Ferrari). The eighties nothing, “Zero tituli”, to paraphrase a famous football manager. Nineties: spades.
In 1988 the Commendatore had also disappeared and Ferrari (for some years in the hands of the ‘Turinians’ who came to Maranello from Turin) clearly had great difficulty in establishing an organization worthy of the name, let alone disseminating a team concept in its employees (or say ‘team’ which means the same thing, but is cooler). In the mid-nineties Luca Cordero di Montezemolo admits in practice (but he does not say it out of modesty) that if you want to win again you have to enlist foreign generals: Jean Todt (French), Rory Byrne (South African), Ross Brawn (English) and at the beginning also John Barnard (also English) and the pilots one German (Michael Schumacher), one Brazilian (Rubens Barrichello), one Irish (Eddie Irvine), another Brazilian (Felipe Massa) and another Finnish (Kimi Raikkonen), more exotic than that.
The Italians, at best, test drivers and second choices for emergencies such as Luca Badoer, Nicola Larini and Giancarlo Fisichella. With this structure it is a global success with repeated Drivers and Manufacturers Titles, until 2007, but then again the darkness: bad luck, questionable pilot management and a factory that has grown out of all proportion in terms of number of employees and size. And, you know, the more people there are and the harder it is to get them all to agree. So, as I see it, the two most successful periods, before this 2022 which could be the beginning of the third period of glory, are – the first – linked to the genius of an individual and – the second – to a team. (‘team’) but of foreigners.
Italians without a charismatic leader have always shown themselves up for controversy and internal factions. Now, fifteen years after the last title (precisely 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen), he returns to spend the sun in Maranello, but this time the car does not seem to be the result of a genius, as Mauro Forghieri could have been, and not it doesn’t even seem the fruit of a team of characters from outside (as in Schumacher’s time): Enrico Cardile, Mattia Binotto don’t seem to me either. There are, it is true, David Sanchez and Laurent Mekies among the most prominent names that are not Italian, but it seems to me that F1-75 can finally be considered a real team work (ie a “team”) with a consistent Italic base, of talented engineers who grew up between the Universities of Pisa (Cardile) and of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Binotto) and who in Oxford and Southampton (just to name a couple of names of those who always put awe) went there, at best, on vacation. Want to see that there we Italians also managed to do real team work (ie of “team” because, there is little to do, the English word ennobles the concept).