In the occasional free moments during today's preparation for the start of this grand prix weekend, all the talk among the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro boys and girls is of what fun they had yesterday. Wednesday prior to the Nurburgring race has...
In the occasional free moments during today's preparation for the start of this grand prix weekend, all the talk among the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro boys and girls is of what fun they had yesterday. Wednesday prior to the Nurburgring race has always meant just one thing since 1998: a team karting evening at Michael Schumacher's family track in Kerpen, an hour's drive from here. The kart track where Michael and his brother Ralf cut their racing teeth is now a thriving business, but on this one day it is reserved exclusively for the Scuderia.
Over 80 people, including all the race team, as well as hospitality staff and some personal friends of Michael's took part in a fierce but friendly competition. Those attending all took part in a practice session at the track, which is half indoors and half outdoors. Then, based on lap times, they were split into groups of six, aimed at making the teams as equal as possible in terms of ability. Michael himself drove with his friends, but was not included in the results, for obvious reasons of fair play!
The race itself lasted one and a half hours, with compulsory pit stops to change drivers. It was action packed and exciting, proving that the Ferrari staff are truly competitive, even away from the F1 circuit.
When the chequered flag fell, the winners turned out to be a sextet which included test driver Felipe Massa and Gestione Sportiva Managing Director Jean Todt. Arguing that this was not really fair, given Massa's professional qualifications as a driver, Todt promptly and sportingly disqualified his own team! This meant the winner's trophy went to a team made up of: Adriano Casolari (engine specialist,) Nigel Stepney (race technical manager,) Giulio Ciceri (pitwall,) Manno Danilo (mechanic,) Francesco Uguzzoni (chief mechanic) and Diego Ioverno (gearbox engineer.)
"I always look forward to this event," said Michael Schumacher after the prize-giving ceremony. "All year long, these guys work hard for me and so it is important to find time to relax together in an enjoyable environment. Sure, it is a fun event, but it is also a boost to our already strong team spirit, which will be useful as we prepare to tackle the long European summer of Grands Prix."