With a current ban on in-season testing, that has already posed many questions about the usefulness of test drivers and the difficulty now facing up-an-coming drivers who want to break into the Formula One, Michael Schumacher has found an interesting way around the problem. The seven-time world champion is apparently at Mugello this afternoon pounding around the track in a 2007-spec. Ferrari. While he isn’t testing the 2009 F60, he isn’t exactly showcasing the car either.
Michael Schumacher claimed five titles while driving for Ferrari and has been asked to step in to replace Felipe Massa while he recovers from his accident sustained at the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend. Wanting to ensure he is in tip-top condition, Schumacher has requested to get in as much driving as possible. He will have spent some time on the simulator, but this still doesn’t compare to the real-life effects of driving an actual car.
Formula One drivers are allowed to drive racing cars between races, of course, and most of the times the pilots climb inside such a vehicle it is for some event, like the Red Bull Roadshows, of Goodwood’s Festival of Speed. In each of these cases, older cars are used, even if they are sometimes liveried up to match their younger relatives. However, the drivers gain nothing by running these cars other than promotion for the team and a chance to meet the fans.
For Michael Schumacher though, he is gaining and therefore he is arguably testing. Although not improving the car, he is improving himself.
Now I am sure the Ferrari Formula One team must have an old F2008 or F2007 kicking around somewhere, and the mechanics and engineers will know these machines as they would have worked on them less than a year ago (in the case of the F2008). But instead of siding with the Formula One side of the company, Schumacher has spoken with a subsidiary company – F1 Clienti – to help him out.
Today I was in Maranello in the afternoon to check the functionality of the steering wheel at the static simulator.
Of course I was also taking the opportunity to again discuss with the engineers how to proceed further. There is this test ban in Formula One, therefore I contacted some of the guys from F1 Clienti if they could give me a car. Although those cars are not current or last year’s ones, I simply like to drive as much as possible, so this is a good option. The next weeks will be totally on preparation then. Michael Schumacher.
F1 Clienti was set up (in collaboration with Ferrari) by rich businessmen who wanted to the chance to drive all manner of Ferrari racing cars that otherwise would have ended up in museums or worse still, they would have been destroyed. The company maintains these cars and often sells them to other rich businessmen who would like the thrill of driving a Formula One car. At meetings, the cars are prepared by mechanics, many of whom will have worked on the actual race team at some point in their career.
And so Schumacher has borrowed a F2007 to thrash around Mugello, but it strikes me odd as to why he went with F1 Clienti rather than Ferrari themselves. While they are almost one-and-the-same, I cannot help but feel the team want to ensure there is absolutely no question of rule-breaking. Of course, it could also be that any and every old Ferrari ends up at F1 Clienti, but the careful and measured approach by the team is the more interesting speculation.