History repeating itself?
On the slowing down lap of the first race of the Formula One season at Melbourne, Sebastian Vettel, the new kid on the block at Maranello, expressed his new found enthusiasm for all things Italian. And who wouldn’t? Especially when your new company car is a Ferrari.
Nearly twenty years ago, another young German didn’t feel quite so enthusiastic as his car failed to finish the very same race. Of course, with hindsight we know that that was the start of a golden period for both Ferrari and Schumacher, the likes of which one doubted would ever be repeated.
…34.523 seconds to be precise. Or put another way, more than a mile ahead.
The five drivers titles Schumacher added to the two he gained at Benetton raised a bar to heights that seemed forever beyond reach. Surely no one could repeat, let alone surpass, that record?
But this is Formula One…
On that slowing down lap in Melbourne, Vettel had placed his Ferrari higher than Fernando Alonso had managed all the previous season. But that was a fluke wasn’t it? The Mercedes boys still finished more than half a minute down the road. 34.523 seconds to be precise, or put another way, more than a mile ahead.
And then of course Valteria Bottas was injured. As was Alonso. So that surely would have made a difference too?
But then a fortnight later the unthinkable happened. Not only did Mercedes not dominate as they had in Melbourne, they were beaten fair and square – by a Ferrari. And had fortune being smiling on Kimi-Matias Räikkönen, it might even have been a one, two! Duh!
Vettel already has four titles to his name and is only 27. Schumacher too was 27 when he moved to Maranello…
Rewind again a moment to 1996. Ferrari then were a team that had last won the Drivers’ Championship in 1979 and the Constructors’ Championship in 1983. But fired up by the still precocious talent of Michael Schumacher, the incredible started to happen. He scored three victories, three second places and, if it were not for a handful of DNFs, he might even have won whereas he had to settle for third place in the championship.
Fast forward to 2015.
Vettel already has four titles to his name and is only 27. Schumacher too was 27 when he moved to Maranello. But had only two titles to his name…
Of course some might say the difference is that Vettel has proved he’s fallible. Vulnerable even. Last season his rookie team mate Ricciardo showed him the way home more times than Vettel would care to remember. But then again Schumacher on his arrival at Ferrari had also shown signs of being far from bulletproof. He spent all season clashing repeatedly with Damon Hill when trying to defend his championship title. To no avail. Hill won. Schumacher left Benetton.
So there we have it. So many similarities. So many parallels. Can history repeat itself?
Finally one other coincidence to ponder (if you believe in such things).
When Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996 he wasn’t the only new boy in town. That year NGK started their relationship with the Ferrari Formula One Team. In 2015 look closely at the Ferrari SF15-T above and you’ll see a logo on its sidepod. NGK Spark plugs are there again. Waiting to help deliver another world championship title to the Prancing Horse.
Forza Ferrari. Forza NGK!