Here we are, on the eve of my home race, the Spanish Grand Prix. It’s always a special event for me, because racing in front of my fans has always been a unique feeling. This topic and my relationship with the fans is something you can find out more about exclusively in the sixth edition of the Scuderia Ferrari Racing News at www.ferrarif1.com and, as many of you have been able to read, in the answers I have posted to my followers on @alo_oficial.
On the subject of excitement, yesterday was a special day at Maranello. It was the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Gilles Villeneuve and Ferrari chose to commemorate it by inviting his son Jacques to drive the 312 T4, the car that his father drove during the 1979 season. Gilles is a legendary figure for everyone, in Maranello and around the world and I think it must have been incredible for Jacques to drive this fantastic car. What I know of the father came only through films and obviously, the one I remember best is the duel he had with Arnoux at Dijon, when he was driving the very same car that was on track yesterday. Unfortunately, these days, we no longer see this sort of fight because there are more difficulties to deal with: the cars are now dominated by aerodynamics and those sorts of passing moves are no longer possible. On top of that, there was definitely more respect then than there is now between us drivers, partly because they knew that, in those cars, they were risking their lives. I don’t want to say that today things are done incorrectly, but I believe there is not that mutual respect, at least not from everyone, that there was back then. It’s a problem that goes back a long way, to the junior categories and I think the time has come to try and get it back. I think Jacques was happy to be here in Maranello yesterday: for the first time, he was able to put on a red race suit with the Ferrari badge and his name sewn on above it. We are friends and it was nice to see him again. We were team-mates, even if just for very few races in 2004 and I get on well with him. He is very professional and very sincere. Yesterday was also the opportunity to plug a gap in my collection of helmets from my team-mates, as Jacques gave me one which dated back to the season he drove for Sauber.
It was nice to see so many mechanics from that time, clearly happy to be back on track watching a Villeneuve. It was yet another episode that made me understand how special is Ferrari’s history, the history of a team with an incredible tradition, but that always looks to the future.
The immediate future means the Spanish Grand Prix. In Montmelo, we will be counting on making a step forward, but we won’t know until Saturday if we have and if so, how big a step it is. We have updates on the F2012, some of which we tested in Mugello last week and others which we will try out on Friday in free practice. Clearly, having limited the damage in the first four races this year, we must turn things around. Having said that, it’s not the case that if we are not on pole in Barcelona then it’s the end of the world… The important thing is to make progress, reducing the gap as much as possible, first this weekend, then again in Monaco and after that, in Montreal, Valencia, Silverstone…The season is very long, with sixteen races to go, the same number that constituted the entire calendar back in 2003. We must continue to work day and night, just as did Gilles’ mechanics, whom I met at the track yesterday and just as our guys do today. I will be flying with them to Barcelona this afternoon. With the same spirit of wanting to win and being prepared to fight with all one’s strength to achieve that, which is the spirit that has driven me ever since I was a kid racing karts.