It often happens that, after the completion of a great undertaking, one is almost afflicted by the presentiment that this cannot be realized a second time. Equally often, however, we change our minds when a subtle hope becomes concrete certainty. Among the many reconfirmation conquerors in the history of Formula 1, among the unforgettable heroes on the four world wheels, there is Michael Schumacher, the man of the seven world wonders, of which five in a row with Ferrari.
After returning the expected title to Maranello in 2000, Schumy was transformed by public opinion into a sort of icon of motorsport. From that 8 October in Suzuka, for the Italians his name is already legend. Conquest tastes good, mostly if achieved after the fifth, sweaty, attempt with Hurth’s driver. Expectations rise for the 2001 season, the Cavallino fans want to sing even more loudly the Mameli anthem at the end of a Grand Prix and Michael will not disappoint them: 9 out of 17 wins, like the previous year.
On 19 August 2001 the Grand Prix of Hungary, 13th appointment on the calendar. The F2001 up to that point had done its duty: offspring of the 2000 car, it had led Schumacher to dominance in Australia, Malaysia, Spain, Monaco, Nurburgring and France. Returning from the summer break after the German Grand Prix, Ferrari has what it takes to mathematically close the championship: if it wins at the Hungaroring, it wins everything. On Saturday of qualifying Schumacher prints a record lap on the Hungarian track, beating that of Prost in ’93, leading McLaren driver David Coulthard by eight tenths. Third place on the grid for the second Ferrari driver, Rubens Barrichello, followed by Williams of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli, good at sneaking his Jordan between the cars of Mika Hakkinen (McLaren), Nick Heidfeld (Sauber) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams).
Despite a warm-up that had seen Coulthard excel on the two Ferraris, at the start of the Grand Prix Schumacher maintains the first position followed by Barrichello, who has managed to overtake the Scotsman of Ron Dennis’ team. Behind them, Ralf Schumacher, Trulli, Hakkinen, Heidfeld and Montoya. The first part of the race did not offer any battles, only a few off the track and an overtaking by Jean Alesi (Jordan) on Pedro De La Rosa (Jaguar) for the 12th place. The Jordan by Trulli acts as a stopper to the sliding of Hakkinen up to the first refueling stop, when the Italian is forced to give him the road slowed by an inconvenience in the pits. Luck in this phase also for Coulthard who manages to return in front of Barrichello.
Rubens will regain second place over the Scot in the second set of pit stops. Coulthard tries to keep his distance to a minimum and to regain possession of the silver podium, but without succeeding. Difficulty also for his two-champion teammate, who has to be content with a fifth place behind the Kaiser’s brother. As a lone predator of victories, Michael Schumacher attacks the finish line by obtaining the double ration of triumph: to him the world poker, to Ferrari another Constructors’ title. All with four races to go, demonstrating a team as precise and impeccable as a choir of violins. The real emotion of that triumphal Sunday was not so much given by Schumacher’s perfect guide, but by that German boy who, on the podium, between the notes of his country’s anthem and the Italian anthem, he brought his hands several times to the eyes resisting (perhaps) with difficulty a few tears that tried to soften his joy.
A thrilling image that brings people closer to that monstrous and legendary driver: first at the start, first at the finish, Michael Schumacher evened the score with Alain Prost. Not only does he break the record on the Hungarian track to the French, he also reaches it in his historical record of 51 victories in Formula 1 and in world conquests: 4, two as a Ferrari driver, as a consequence of an overwhelming human and technical supremacy.