Formula 1, much like everything else, used to be different some time ago. It did not have that big of a focus on safety, it was more relaxed, yet aggressive at the same time. 20 years ago Michael Schumacher stopped on the track to take a driver from a different team – Giancarlo Fisichella. This bizarre taxi service nowadays is unimaginable, but videos of it are still kind of cool.
The story behind Schumacher giving Fisichella a lift is rather simple. In 1997 German Grand Prix Fisichella was one of the leaders. In fact, after Jan Magnussen’s engine blew up in a clowd of smoke, Fisichella overtook Gerhard Berger and was leading the race for a couple of laps. But then he punctured a tire on the debris from Magnussen’s engine. He still tried moving, but pieces of the broken tire damaged the radiator and it was pretty much over for Fisichella.
When race was over, Michael Schumacher decided to help Fisichella reach his team and gave him a lift. Fisichella sat down on the rear wing of the Formula 1 car, took off his helmet and drivers successfully reached their final destination while waving to the cheering crowd. What a cool sight that was, but not so uncommon actually.
In 1986 four drivers used a single car to get back to the pits. In 1991 Senna was sitting on Mansell’s car and refused to get off of it, and in 1993 Berger hitched a ride with Zanardi. But fast forward to today’s era and you will see that in 2013 Fernando Alonso stopped to pick up Mark Webber, whose car broke down at the last lap. Webber got a 10 position penalty for the coming race. Alonso was criticized too for stopping on the corner, but he had to do it, because back in 2011 Webber picked him up in a similar situation.
Nowadays Formula 1 is a bit sanitized. Drivers are very distant from the public, as they have to soften their personality, to make sure sponsors and team managers are happy. And, of course, on the track they have to be very careful as well. Taking a ride on another car is now ill-advised and even winners do not take a flag around the track as they used to.
On the other hand, videos will always be here – it is not a fascinating piece of history.