As a regular at Sliverstone since the early nineties, I’ve seen the colours worn by the home fans change over the years. During the nineties, Williams apparel dominated the grandstands as the home fans showed their support for Mansell, Hill and Coulthard. This made way to the grey/black McLaren team wear as Coulthard moved teams before Buttons good form for BAR Honda saw white shirts dominate around the home of British Motorsport. For the past couple of years, ‘Team GB’ of Button and Hamilton at McLaren has seen a sea of silver and blood red take over.
You can see the same pattern in any country with a driver to support, until you get to Italy. Every year, in early September, the Tifosi adorn their scarlet hats and shirts to show their allegiance to the most successful team in the history of Formula 1, Ferrari.
From the championships inception in 1950, it was Italian machinery that dominated the podiums and Italian drivers, with Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari winning three out of the first four drivers championships. It is difficult to comprehend that a country with as much motorsport heritage, that an Italian driver hasn’t won the drivers title since Ascari in 1953. On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix, only two Italians line up on the grid, Jarnu Trulli and Tonio Liuzzi. Trulli was asked whether he was looking forward to his home race, he replied “it’s just another race”, Just another race that hasn’t been won by an Italian since Ludovico Scarfiotti in 1966.
There seems to be a nationwide apathy towards their drivers, Whoever drives for Ferrari gets idolised by the Tifosi. Alonso, Schumacher and Mansell have all been taken to the hearts of the fans. Even Ferarri themselves don’t seem to be under any pressure to put an Italian in the car, Ivan Capelli was the last Italian to be contracted for them for an entire season back in 1992. The last Italian to win for the Prancing Horse was Michele Alboreto, 26 years ago.
It’s evident that any home grown driver won’t have the attention of the tifosi unless they are driving a scarlet Ferrari and it would seem that as long as the team are winning, they don’t mind who’s behind the wheel.