Into uncharted territory
Mugello is a name that evokes memories: motorcycle races, long days of testing, first days – or only days – in the car for hopeful youngsters. This circuit is one we all, in one way or another, know, it’s part of our sport’s collective psyche. But none of those memories is of Formula One cars racing each other: and it may well be, as the Tuscan circuit has never been put to that use until this week, when it will host its first Grand Prix.
Set in the hills just north of Florence – a lovely part of the world, if you ask us – Mugello Circuit features many medium- and high-speed corners that will provide a challenge to the drivers. A long home straight and elevation changes add to the layout, with some corners, like the two Arrabbiata blind right handers, a particular highlight.
For the team, Mugello is another important race – both on and off the track. The second of three races in Italy this season, it will be a matter of pride to fly the colours of Alfa Romeo on the marque’s home turf; it will be a second home race in a row for Antonio, who will once again sport his special edition helmet in tribute to his country. Finally, with fans finally returning, albeit in limited numbers, to a Grand Prix, we will aim to put up a great show for them while making our name proud.
Mugello is, of course, where in late 2000 a young-faced Kimi Räikkönen made his debut on a Formula One car, testing for Sauber. Just 20 and with only 23 races in any single seater under his belt, the Finn represented somewhat of an unusual choice when being evaluated for a race seat, but he did enough to impress – WAY enough to impress, not just the team but also Michael Schumacher, who was observing the test – to earn a place on the grid with Sauber for the 2001 season.
The rest, as they say, is history…