Binotto on Michael Schumacher’s first tests at Ferrari

Mattia Binotto, former head of the Ferrari team, shared his memories of Michael Schumacher from 1995, telling how the future seven-time world champion first worked with the Scuderia during testing.

Mattia Binotto: “I have only recently obtained an engineering degree and Michael was already world champion and played for Benetton. When he first tested with Ferrari, he wore an all-white suit with no sponsor logos, as the new season had not yet started. He was only in Fiorano for one day to get used to the car – then we still had our last 12-cylinder engines.

And then we went to Estoril for the first real tests. We then got used to Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger, and I really liked these two riders. Usually the tests started at 9 a.m., after which we started working with the car and trying to figure out how to act to make it better. The racers showed up on the track at 8:50 a.m., after which they had time to put on overalls and helmets and take their seats in the cockpit.

That time we arrived at the circuit at 8.30am, when everyone had already gathered, and Michael was already there, sitting on the steps of the camper and pointing impatiently at his watch. He told us to meet at exactly 8am to discuss the program and decide what we would do to work as efficiently as possible from 9am.

It was a very different approach, not one that characterized Alesi and Berger. They went out for a test lap, then the car returned to the pits, the mechanics made sure there were no problems, no oil or water was flowing, and the engineers were studying telemetry at the time.

Then the rider took off for the first full circles, returned, got out of the cockpit and spoke to his engineer. Then, around 4 p.m., with the air and road surface temperatures dropping a little and the track was generally faster, we drained almost all of the gas from the tank and put new tires on so that the headlines would come out the next day. which broke the lap record in Estoril.

But I remember Schumacher as an exceptional driver who did a lot for Ferrari. In addition, he conquered everyone with his generosity, charm and leadership skills. I would like to believe that we have continued to use the same approach in subsequent years. I still follow them in my professional career. As a team leader, I tried to remember the culture, the attitude we had in Michael’s time and put it all into practice.

In those years, we not only raced, but also constantly worked on tests – it turned out that we spent 210 days a year on this. I then spent more time in Michael’s company than with my family, so I’ve always said that people don’t work at Ferrari, they live.

Source: F1 News

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