Red Mist: Schumi 2002, a perfect Ferrari legacy to build on

13.10.2002 Suzuka, Japan, F1 in Japan, Sonntag, Podium nach dem Rennen, Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Suzuka Circuitland, 2002 F1 Japanese Grand Prix - (Japan, Formel 1, GP). - PRINT ENGLAND OUT! © xpb.cc - weitere Bilder auf der Datenbank unter www.xpb.cc - Email: info@xpb.cc

Today marks a most significant milestone for Ferrari in Formula 1 and one ripe for a little positive reflection, starring the greatest driver to don Red – Michael Schumacher.

It was 20 years ago, today in 2002, Schumi drove his Ferrari F2002 to win his eleventh Grand Prix of the season in another 1-2 from Rubens Barrichello in the Japanese season finale at Suzuka. It was our fifteenth win of the year, equalling McLaren’s 1988 mark.

Those of us Tifosi who lived those glorious years will remember that mark all very well. It was Michael’s fifth title. And his third for the Scuderia. I still have the cap, and the one with six bars, and the one with seven. The mark of success

It was a long, hard 21-year slog

What most of us forget, however, was the long hard slog of 21 dark years without a Ferrari driver’s title before those glory years. And it’s that that we need to remember most today. Never mind that it took four years of hard slog to turn the Dream Team into a Winning Dream Team…

That all started five years before when Luca di Montezemolo decided that it was time for Ferrari to win again. Enzo’s chosen son, Luca had of course played a huge role in our previous glory days.

Under the young lawyer Montezemolo, and the genius Mauro Forgheiri’s technical spell, Ferrari won two titles with Niki Lauda. And another with Jody Scheckter, albeit after Luca had headed off to bigger things.

Enzo was gone when Luca returned

Schumacher e Montezemolo festeggiano dopo la vittoria In questa gara Schumacher annuncera il ritiro dalle corse al termine della stagione.

Enzo was gone by the time Montezemolo returned to run Ferrari in the early ‘nineties. And something had to be done. So, not only did he steal Michael Schumacher from Benetton, but Luca also relieved his pal Briatore of his technical powerhouses Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne.

He then brought Jean Todt in to run the show. And fluffed the once all-Italian squad out into a fresh, new, international team. But it did not happen overnight. It took Ferrari, Schumacher, and the Dream Team another five years to finally wrest that elusive title.

Between woeful reliability, in the beginning, Michael breaking his leg, his idiot move on Villeneuve and a woke McLaren and Mika Hakkinen, and more, Maranello worked through it, one step at a time. But it all came together in the year 2000. And by 2002, Ferrari was perfect. Unstoppable.

Michael was on the podium every race

Michael Schumacher was on the podium every race that year. Ponder that mark for a second…

Now let’s roll on 20 years. Looked at in the context of the above, 2022 can hardly be considered a dot year for Ferrari. Sure, Max and Red Bull were unlikely to be beaten. Just as Mika and McLaren Mercedes were in 1998 and ’99. But from there, Ferrari took over at the top. And we ran with it.

All the bullshit aside, 2022 was a monumental step forward for the Scuderia. We have won four races so far. And while we threw way too many away, we are so far the only team to beat the great Max and the Bulls. And comprehensively so, on occasion too. So as far as building blocks go, 2022 is a very good one.

A mark for the Next Dream Team to reflect on 

Now it’s time to reflect. Like the Dream Team did back in the late 1990s. It’s a time for the Next Dream Team to step up. To work on the issues, the strategy, the reliability and the promises. And to build on the positives, the performance, the pole positions, the podiums, and the wins. And to come back stronger than ever in 2023.

Most importantly, Scuderia Ferrari needs to remember that what happened today, twenty years ago, it was also legacy built on blood, sweat and plenty tears, Avanti! Forza!