(Motorsport-Total.com) – At Riccardo Patrese you can definitely speak of a driver who has had to deal with some strong teammates in the course of his Formula 1 career. The Italian drove in a team with the world champions Alan Jones, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher. In the podcast ‘Beyond the Grid’ he remembers.
“The fastest teammate I ever had was Michael,” reveals the now 66-year-old and explains: “Alan Jones was a world champion. Fantastic. Nelson was a world champion. Fantastic. Nigel too. But the one whose speed was really outstanding , and who could do incredible things by car was Michael. “
“He is the only driver, perhaps besides Senna, who could win races with an inferior car and even fight for the World Championship. The two could make that small but subtle difference with a car that wasn’t actually a winning car,” said Patrese. That was not the case with other pilots.
“When Alan Jones became world champion, he had the best car. Nelson too. […] Nigel had such a superior car in 1992 that I was his only opponent. But the speed Michael Schumacher was able to go and the things that I saw he could do that were different to me than any other driver I’ve ever seen, “Patrese reveals.
No longer fully motivated against Schumacher
The Italian switched from Williams to Benetton in 1993 as the current vice world champion, where he met Schumacher. While it was only the second complete Formula 1 season for the young German, Patrese was already in his 17th year in the premier class. “Michael was certainly faster than me. But it is also true that I was no longer so motivated,” he admits today.
“With the same enthusiasm as at the beginning of my career, I might have been closer,” he believes and explains: “He was young and very talented. [Teamchef] Briatore said: ‘Ah, Riccardo isn’t even as good as this young guy, even though he’s runner-up. If I take another driver, it will be at least as fast as Michael. ‘”
However, you could not really assess his performance at the time, because: “Michael wasn’t the Schumacher we know today. He was a young guy and he had no success and no seven World Cup titles,” he recalls and explains: “He made my life very difficult because Briatore said that I have to be as fast as Schumacher.”
Patrese wanted to make the car better
“But it wasn’t me,” he admits and explains: “You also have to say: Michael was definitely faster than me. But he was also fourth in the World Cup and I was fifth. The difference wasn’t that big. It was his second season, my 17th. The atmosphere in the team was also not good for my morale. It was certainly not my best season in terms of speed. “
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“In other years I was much faster than in 1993,” explains Patrese, who ended the World Cup with 20 points. Schumacher took more than twice as many points (52) and also a victory in Portugal. “I was very focused on improving the car. I came from a perfect car, the 1992 Williams,” recalls Patrese.
“The Benetton could not cope with all the electronic aids. I was more careful to get it done while Michael’s focus was on driving a car as quickly as possible. He didn’t really care about driving behavior. If I complained, I thought so whole team that I’m looking for excuses, “Patrese believes.
Disadvantage? Patrese disagrees with Briatore
“Michael was faster. But actually I wanted to make the car better,” he emphasizes. In fact, there was tension with team principal Flavio Briatore. In the past, he claimed several times that Patrese complained about getting worse material than Schumacher. But he doesn’t want to know anything about it.
“You wanted to win the constructors’ championship. I don’t think one car was better than the other. If someone says something like that, I don’t think so. Every team wants to have the two best possible cars on the grid,” said Patrese, who reveals with a laugh that ex-teammate Piquet had warned him about joining Briatore before joining Benetton.
The Brazilian drove for Benetton in 1990 and 1991 and then ended his Formula 1 career. For Patrese, too, his time in the premier class ended after the short Benetton guest appearance. The best result in his farewell season was a second place in Hungary. Patrese was on the podium only twice, Schumacher nine times.