Simanaitis Says

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FERRARI AND MICHAEL SCHUMACHER absolutely dominated Formula 1 in 2002. In one sense, such dominance might have translated into boredom. But there are plenty of tidbits gleaned from recounts of the 2002 F1 season, Gooding & Company’s 2013 Pebble Beach Auction sale of a Ferrari F2002, RM Sotheby’s 2019 sale of another F2002, and, incidentally, what it takes to fire up 21st-century F1 machinery. Here are these tidbits in Parts 1 and 2, today and tomorrow.

Schumacher drove the F2002 to its first victory, at the Grand Prix of Brazil, March 31, 2002. This and other images from Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction catalog, August 17–18, 2013.

Ferrari’s and Schuey’s Year. There were 17 F1 races in 2002, and Ferrari won 15 of them, nine with 1-2 finishes. Michael Schumacher earned the 2002 World Drivers’ Championship, his fifth, matching Juan Manuel Fangio’s achievement in the 1950s. Schuey was to break Fangio’s record a year later and earned his seventh championship in 2004. No other driver has so dominated F1.

In 2002, Ferrari took the World Constructers’ Championship as well, a feat it achieved from 1999 through 2004 as well as 10 other times.

The F2002’s Engine. With goals of sustainability and cost reductions (neither of which were particularly met), 21st-century Formula 1 regulations initially held to 3-liter, normally aspirated, V-10 power bereft of exotics such as beryllium alloys. Nonetheless, the F2002’s engine has four-valve heads and its seven-speed titanium gearbox is sequentially controlled with semiautomatically invoked shifts. Power was never officially disclosed, but estimates vary from 820 to 900 hp at 19,000 rpm.

Relatively simple by today’s standards, the F2002’s propulsion featured neither forced induction nor energy-regenerated hybrid power.

Firing ’Er Up. But, as I noted in Tech Tidbits, R&T, June 2007, “It’s a far cry from a couple of mechanics bump-starting the car onto the grid…. Technicalities are so dense that no one engineer has expertise in it all. A test or race engineer is in charge, together with an engine engineer, an electronics engineer, and a strategy or deputy car engineer coordinating system interactions.”

The F2002 engine is a 90-degree V-10.

An hour or two before any action, the engine is given a shot of heated water through its coolant passages. Then, about an hour before leaving the garage, the engine is cranked—ignition off—to get oil and fuel pressures functioning.

Multiple system checks are made along the way. Only then does the chief mechanic switch on the ignition. As I noted, “And, in the confines of the garage, all positive hell breaks loose.”

Several laptops monitor things while the engine idles at around 6000 rpm. Recall, back in 2002, an F1 engine’s redline was more than 19,000.

Tomorrow in Part 2, the F2002 plays a role in F1 drama—twice. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020

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