The Ferrari F2002: Michael Schumacher’s Magic Carpet
A true champion among Formula One cars, the Ferrari F2002 is one of the most successful F1 cars in history. The Ferrari team raced with the Ferrari F2002 for the 2002 season, storming to both the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships.
Design for the chassis is credited to Aldo Costa, the legendary Rory Byrne, and Nikolas Tombazis. With Ross Brawn leading the team as Technical Director in partnership with Paolo Martinelli on engine design, it became one of the most awarded cars in history. The Ferrari F2002 won 15 out of 19 Grands Prix between 2002 and 2003.
About the Ferrari F2002
Upon its initial release, the Ferrari F2002 compared favourably to its predecessor, the F2001. One significant detail is that the Ferarri F2002 was a lot lighter than its counterpart, sporting a 3.0-litre V10 engine. It could produce nearly 835 horsepower at 17,800 rpm. It wasn’t actually the strongest engine of its time, but it was ultra-reliable and very easy to drive.
This was the first model to receive the well-designed clutchless gearbox system. This system makes it faster than ever to switch gears. Everything inside the car was very tightly packaged, from the aerodynamics to the engine itself.
The Ferrari F2002 Aerodynamics
While less powerful than the Williams-BMW, the Ferrari F2002 was far ahead of it in terms of aerodynamics. It even went further than the McLaren 2002 model, which had a lot of production and design issues that year.
Motor Sport Magazine announced that, using the Pomeroy Index system, the F2002 is the fastest Formula One race car of all time. While the F2004 actually performed better, the F2002 is still more reliable and faster on average than all of its competing models. In fact, the F2002 was recorded as being faster than the MP4/4 and FW14B models.
Ferrari F2002 – New Technology
The Ferrari F2002 might have started off as an improvement of the F2001, but it came with so many new technology developments that it held its own as a unique model. This was the first time since the 1960s that Ferrari added a new gearbox design, for example. With a more lightweight gearbox, the weight of the car was reduced by 15%. Not to mention this lowered the centre of gravity, allowing it to go much faster.
The F2002 was late to the 2002 season, however. The gearbox redesign was so intensive that not a lot of work could be done on the aerodynamics. The old systems were used until the third round of the 2002 season when the engines were finally replaced.
The first two races of 2002 were actually raced using the F2001 model because Ferrari wanted to take their time developing every new piece of technology for the upcoming model.
Other new technology on the Ferrari F2002 included:
- Fluid traction control system
- Hot exhaust gases used for aerodynamics
- Periscopic exhaust outlets to prevent overheating
- Clutchless direct-shift driving
These new additions presented a major change in the Ferrari line that ensured its place in history when it hit the racetrack.
Race history of the Ferrari F2002
Michael Schumacher won his first race in the Ferrari F2002, the 2002 Brazilian Grand Prix, to continue a streak dating back to 1999 of each new Ferrari winning its debut race.
During the first lap, Schumacher got into a bit of a scuffle with Juan Pablo Montoya. Afterwards, he moved into second place before marching to victory over his brother Ralf in the Williams.
The debut of the F2002 ushered in a period of domination for Schumacher, who wrapped up the 2002 Driver’s Championship at the 2002 French Grand Prix, just the 11th race of the season – a new record for the fastest championship win.
The Ferrari F2002 was so dominant in fact, that Ferrari stopped development work on the car at the 2002 Belgian Grand Prix, and still recorded four straight 1-2 finishes to conclude the season.
During his incredible run in 2002, Schumacher raced in the Ferrari F2002 in 15 races, winning 10 of them and finishing in second place in the other five.
The Chassis Controversy
There was some controversy at the F2002’s debut race in Brazil, as there was only one F2002 chassis. This meant Schumacher’s spare chassis was an F2001, which is a completely different chassis from the F2002, and used a completely different rim design. As a result, each chassis needed its own wheels and tyres.
It was argued that Schumacher had twice the allocation of tyres as other drivers, which was against the rules. Ferrari weathered the storm, and agreed to aggregate his tyre usage across the two chassis, so he would only use the same total number of tyres as his competitors.
Ferrari F2002 – Total Domination
Following that first F2002 race, the Ferrari totally dominated the 2002 FORMULA 1 season. Such domination had not occurred since the McLaren MP4/4 in 1988. Schumacher went on to score nine more victories (a total of 10 wins) with the Ferrari F2002.
The one race that the Ferrari F2002 lost? Monaco. Although Schumacher still finished second.
Schumacher also finished all of the races on the podium, scoring either first or second place in all of them. He clinched the title during the 11th race in France. Ferrari ended up scoring more points than the rest of the teams put together. Ferrari took home a total of 221 points!
Schumacher was embroiled in another controversy later in 2002 when he and his teammate Rubens Barrichello were accused of swapping their finishing spots at the United States and Austrian races.
This controversy ultimately lent itself to a ban on team orders for many years to come. The ban had to be raised once again in 2010 when Ferrari was caught asking Felipe Massa to let Fernando Alonso win the 2010 German Grand Prix.
The Future of the Ferrari F2002
The Ferrari F2002 was renamed the F2002B to start the 2003 FORMULA 1 season. The final win of the Ferrari F2002 was at the San Marino Grand Prix in 2003. The Ferrari to replace this dominant model was the F2003-GA.
Interestingly enough, the F2003-GA was not as successful as the F2002. Schumacher won the title, but only by two points. McLaren continued to be a threat with Kimi Raikkonen pushing the German all the way to the end of a thrilling season.