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In the paddock of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari we meet six-time GP winner Riccardo Patrese. The now 68-year-old Italian talks about modern Formula 1 and Ferrari's chances.
I can well remember a statement made by Riccardo Patrese, who competed in 256 GPs. It was in 1983 at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola. Patrese had stalked Patrick Tambay's leading Ferrari in the Brabham and overtook the Frenchman on lap 55 of 60, but then he slipped off the track in the Alte variant. The fans roared with joy, because now a Ferrari was in front again. Tambay won. Patrese said afterwards: "As an Italian, you are worth nothing in your own country if you are not in a Ferrari."
Riccardo got his revenge in 1990 and won at Imola with the Williams.
Today Riccardo is strolling through the paddock of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari with his son Lorenzo. We meet the 1992 F1 World Championship runner-up for a chat.
Riccardo, how do you see modern Formula 1?
I like this new Formula 1, I like the cars. Of course, it's something completely different than it was in my time. But the world is evolving and so is Formula 1. Formula 1 should be a glamorous show and it undoubtedly is.
A big topic this year is this jumping of the cars, the bouncing or porpoising. Do you remember that from before?
Yes, we had that back then too. Our cars were also very low and the cars touched down all the time, it was very uncomfortable how it shook your head. But it didn't matter to the technicians, the main thing was that the car was fast. And for us drivers, speed comes before comfort. As it turns out today, nothing has changed.
How do you see Ferrari this year? Can this high level be maintained throughout the season to finally win a world title again?
Yes, I think that's possible. The first races have been very promising. Red Bull Racing has problems with stability, otherwise Ferrari would be challenged more. The first challenger is Max Verstappen. You know, everything was different in the past – we could develop whatever the hell. In theory, you could build a completely new car during the season. This is no longer possible with the current regulations and especially against the background of the cost ceiling. We used to have teams that finished in the back in the first three races and then won races in the summer. Today that is hardly possible. If you can start the season with a good car, then you have an advantage. The reverse also applies: If you have problems with your car, it is doubly difficult to make up ground. Even if you had good ideas on how to make the car go faster, you are limited as to what you can put on the vehicle.
You give me a nice cue. Let's talk about Mercedes. Were you surprised at how difficult it was for the silver ones?
Yes very. I didn't expect that they would have such difficulties with the step to this new generation of racing cars. I am anxious to see if they get to grips with the obvious problems with the car. I know one thing - it's not down to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
We're doing a sprint today: do you like this format?
I'm a bit divided on that, on the one hand the fans get one more race, on the other hand it's a bit artificial. The drivers also must be careful: the sprint defines the line-up for the Grand Prix, so one mistake is enough and you're out of the window for the World Championship race. This has led to some drivers holding back in the sprint. In 2022, more points will be offered in the sprint, maybe that will change something.
Let's talk about the World Championship calendar. Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali wants to expand the program to 25 races in the medium term, and there is even talk of 30 Grands Prix per year. Is this the right way?
I can hardly judge that. In my time we had 16 races a year, that was enough for me at the time. Now, it could be twice as many - that's just crazy. If I were a driver today, it would probably be too much for me.
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