One of the highlights of the 2011 edition of Modena Trackdays held on June 29-30 at the legendary Nürburgring racing circuit were the Formula 1 cars.
Started in 1993, the Modena Trackdays offers owners the opportunity to drive their cars on the racing track while the public is given the rare opportunity to see the cars in an informal setting. In 2003 Modena Motorsport became the first ‘F1 Clienti’ base outside the factory, so it is not surprising that Ferrari Formula 1 cars play a central role in this event.
The oldest F1 car at this event was the Maserati 250F which was used in racing between 1954 and 1960. A total of twenty-six examples were made. This green Maserati 250F with serial number 2507, was delivered to the English Gilby Team and was driven by Roy Salvadori in 1956.
Another classic F1 car was the Ferrari 312 F1. For the 1967 season, Ferrari built only four cars. The 1967 Ferrari team consisted of Lorenzo Bandini, Chris Amon, Mike Parks and Lodovico Scarfiotti. The 312 F1 was powered by a 3.0 liter V12 which peaked at 390 bhp at 10,000rpm. Because of the incredibly complex, twisting exhaust system, they became known as the ‘Spaghetti Pipe’ cars.
The Ferrari 126 C2, similar to one driven by Gilles Villeneuve entered the circuit as well. This Ferrari is powered by a 1.5 liter V6 turbo, which its power boosted to 650bhp in qualifying trim and around 600bhp in races. The Ferrari 126 C2 is legendary and even notorious because this is the car in which Villeneuve died after an accident during the final qualifying session for the 1982 Belgium Grand Prix at Zolder. Another Ferrari 126 C3, formerly belonging to René Arnoux was on display in the pit box.
The Ferrari 641 was driven in the 1990 season by Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell. Powered by a 3.5 liter V12 engine, the car scored 6 wins in the 1990 season (Prost 5 wins, Mansell 1 win). This car is best known for the famous collision between Prost and Senna at the penultimate round of the Championship in Japan at Suzuka (the same circuit where Senna and Prost had their collision a year before), making Senna the Formula 1 world champion.
Also at the Modena Trackdays were the ’94 Ferrari F93A and the Ferrari 412T formerly driven by Gerard Berger in the 1994 and 1995 Formula One Season. The 412T was designed by John Barnard and Gustav Brunner and was also the last V12 powered Ferrari F1 car ever.
The 1993 Williams FW15, perhaps the most technologically sophisticated Formula One car of all time entered the circuit as well. This car designed by Adrian Newey and driven by Alain Prost and Damon Hill won both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships before the FIA banned electronic driver aids. This was also the last time Prost entered in the F1.
Another Williams was the FW18 which was designed by Patrick Head and Adrian Newey for the 1996 Formula One season. The FW18s were driven by Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve. The car proved to be the most successful of the entire 1996 field; winning 12 of the 16 races during the season, with Hill winning 8 and Villeneuve winning 4. The FW18 was also the car that won Damon Hill the Drivers Championship title.
Dating from the same year is the Ferrari 310B racing car with which the Ferrari team competed in the 1996 and 1997 seasons. This car marked the debut of Michael Schumacher for the ‘prancing horse’ and started a new era for the Italian racing team. Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, and Jean Todt have been credited as turning this once struggling team into the most successful team in Formula One history.
Another car from this era was Ferrari F2000 in which Michael Schumacher won his third World Championship after a year-long battle with Mika Häkkinen. This was Ferrari’s first drivers’ title for 21 years, the last one was won with Jody Scheckter in 1979.
The last but not least was the Ferrari F2003-GA which entered in the 2003 Formula 1 season. Designed by Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn, the car won seven races, five pole positions, and five fastest laps resulting in the constructors’ championship, whilst Schumacher snatched his sixth drivers’ title.
While the current Formula 1 lacks possibilities for the fans to see and hear these kind of cars from up close, the Modena Trackdays offers the fans to see, hear and even feel the cars. The fans can get close to the cars, and talk to the drivers and mechanics. Not the cars, but the openness and accessibility of the paddock at the Modena Trackdays is the biggest attraction. If the Formula 1 and Bernie Ecclestone wants do to more for its fans they should take a look at the Modena Trackdays.