The Italian journalist Leo Turini has been writing about Formula 1 for almost forty years, and in his memory there were four cases when the champions came back – and now everyone is waiting for the return of the fifth … Interestingly, all these champions at different times played for Ferrari.
The upcoming return of Fernando Alonso brings me a kaleidoscope of memories.
I was still very young when Niki Lauda announced that he wanted to return to Formula 1. At first I thought it was some kind of crazy idea, but that was my first reaction, at the level of instincts.
However, then I was given a thought by the phrase said by Franco Gozzi, who at that time was the right hand of Enzo Ferrari. In general, then, in 1982, he said: “It would be better if this Austrian returned to our team, and Kommendatore also thinks so, but if you write about it, I will beat you.”
I am writing about this now, and may a slap in the face from Heaven overtake me.
Nicky returned and eventually won the championship title in 1984.
The return of Alain Prost was somewhat easier. I have always believed that the French “Professor” is a great racer who got less fame than he deserved, because he was the main opponent of Ayrton Senna, who left us too early, so the Brazilian remained a hero forever, and everyone who competed with him was almost oblivion is in store.
It’s unfair, even though this is how life works.
In the fall of 1991, Prost left Ferrari, and it cannot be said that the parting was kind. Everyone already knew that Renault was waiting for his transfer to Williams, because the cars of this team were then the fastest.
The 1993 season of Prost was perfect, although it seemed to me that even then I noticed some signs of the decline of his career. He easily won his fourth title, but at the same time those achievements did not remain in the memory of the fans, since only one race was remembered – the European Grand Prix, which took place that season in Donington.
It was Easter Sunday, and I hope I will not be considered a blasphemer if I say that on that day I saw the Messiah not walk on water, but rode. And it was Senna, not Prost.
Now about the return of Michael Schumacher. I remember that Thursday in the paddock of Bahrain’s Sahir circuit. Dunes, sand, mirages … I was walking under the scorching sun and suddenly I saw a man in a silvery robe in the distance. It was Michael.
He returned to Formula 1 in 2010 with Mercedes. For a moment our gazes met, and I swear, it seemed to me that he was somehow uncomfortable: he seemed to be a Ferrari driver, but he was wearing the uniform of another team … Actually, I did not even pay attention to it then.
But I had difficult feelings: on the one hand, I was glad to see him, because he is the champion and the main character of my articles. But at the same time, I realized that he was now a rival, and this puzzled me.
His return did not work out well. He spent three more years in Formula 1, more than once giving reasons for criticism to his ill-wishers, although he did not deserve it. Michael flashed only once, when at the age of 43 he won pole position in Monte Carlo. It was a miracle, but the irony of fate was that because of the penalty he could not start from the first position on Sunday. And it was sad …
He then told me that in 2012 he was returning to Formula 1 with Lotus for a single purpose.
At one time he was kicked out of Ferrari – I will not remind why, because I have already written more than once about how unfairly he was treated in 2009. Now no one remembers this, but when at the end of 2013 Raikkonen left Lotus (since they stopped paying him), he took third place in the individual competition. Having achieved this while driving a Lotus! And ahead were only Sebastian Vettel, who drove the car of the Red Bull Racing team, invincible in those years, and Fernando Alonso, who was then for Ferrari.
Many years have passed, but Kimi is still in the ranks. Leave him alone, he knows what he’s doing.
It remains to wish Fernando Alonso to choose from the above the scenario that he likes best.