As extraordinary as Schumacher is, even he doesn't win on his own. A regulation 2.4 liter V8 engine that can pump out 800 bhp at almost 20,000 rpm isn't the only well-oiled machine you need to win in Formula One. You need about 60 of them, each designed to last for only a few hours, plus a crack crew of design engineers and fanatical roadies who could probably assemble a fighter jet from scratch in 30 seconds blindfolded. Formula One is also the world's most expensive and technologically demanding sport. To organize and finance all this, you need a formidable organization that could teach NASA a thing or two about high-tech logistics. They may hail from Marinello, but Team Ferrari is a modern-day Roman invading army, sweeping everything out of its path with its technical and organizational muscle.
|In the Pit|
In the moments before the big race, the pits look like intense chaos, but it's carefully choreographed chaos. One knot of mechanics swarms over the cars, waiting to the last minute to whip off the puffy covers from the Bridgestone tires. Someone holds an umbrella over Schumacher as he pulls on his helmet, receiving final words of advice from Ferrari CEO Jean Todt. Just before the starting flag, the engines are roaring over the crowd, but the pits are finally quiet, almost relaxed. Everybody settles into their seats because everything is as ready as it can ever get.
Then the light changed. All at once, the surrounding Black Forest was practically uprooted by the searing howl of 22 apocalyptic riders launching off the starting grid. In the trenches, you don't watch the race- the crew watches a live video feed-you FEEL it. You feel the air and your inadequately protected eardrums shattering under the pressure of a solid wall of sound. You feel the ground shaking and your nose burning from fumes and incinerating rubber. You feel the tension in the room as every team member strains at the monitors, willing their man to get to the corner first. I for one felt a rabbit's instinct to dive into the nearest safe burrow when hawks are screaming overhead.