MAY 23, 2003
Schumacher and the Bandini Trophy
Lorenzo Bandini was a Ferrari driver in the early 1960s and was best known for his victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1963. He even won a Grand Prix, although his win on the bumpy runways of the Zeltweg airfield in 1964 is always considered to have been a bit of a fluke because many other cars broke their suspensions on that occasion. Bandini however became seen as the team leader in 1967 when paired with the young Chris Amon. At Monaco Bandini was driving to the limit when he made a mistake, crashed into the straw bales beside the track and his car overturned and caught fire. Bandini suffered terrible burns, from which he died a few days later.
In recent years an organization called the Lorenzo Bandini Association has been awarding a trophy each year to the F1 driver who has shown the most fighting spirit and this year it was announced that the award would go to World Champion Michael Schumacher. On Thursday Michael flew off at lunchtime from the Fiorano test track to the town of Brisighella near Imola to collect his award.
Coming a few days after Schumacher's fire in the pits in Austria, the award is a reminder that times have changed and that safety is today incredible. Statistics may say that Schumacher is the greatest F1 driver ever but he has the benefit of a better chance of survival than the men who drove F1 cars in the 1960s.