At least there’s one record Ferrari can’t Shanghai
Kimi Räikkönen ‘s sensational win on F1’s overdue return to Spa provided a fillip for the whole paddock. McLaren is finally back on winning form, and Räikkönen’s recent pace suggests that we might yet have some excitement in 2004.
It’s been a strenuous, 17-month slog since McLaren’s last win, achieved by the Finn in Malaysia. Two disastrously unsuccessful cars later, the team has turned it around with MP4-19B, which first showed its pace at Silverstone. The bold decision to upgrade at mid-season has paid dividends.
Ron Dennis had tears in his eyes as he discussed Kimi’s drive, and the effort that preceded it. But there was one point he really wanted to make: Ferrari could no longer finish this season with just one victory missing from its tally, a feat McLaren so famously managed in 1988 with Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Honda turbo power. Despite what you might think, history means a lot to this man.
However, don’t expect Schumacher to wind down as the end of the season approaches. One race he certainly wants to win is the inaugural Chinese GP in Shanghai, an event that is sure to attract worldwide attention, and bring his name to a whole new audience.
A few years ago an event in China seemed unlikely. But having watched with envy as Beijing grabbed the 2008 Olympics, the Shanghai folk did exactly what Melbourne did when Sydney earned the 2000 games. They went for something else with a high international profile — and a much longer shelf life than a one-off fortnight of beach volleyball and synchronised diving.
It promises to be a fascinating weekend.