Silently, he appears at the entrance of the garage. The racesuit tied at the waist, the underwear with short sleeves and biceps, sculpted, clearly visible. A huge watch on his left wrist. He’s holding a bowl of muesli, from which he draws relentlessly while watching us. It’s a strange feeling, like he’s coming from another galaxy. I don’t know what he was thinking in that moment while us, maybe a poor animal species so busy to polish the red sedan that he will drive soon.
He is very kind and polite, greetings all the team members. He smiles when he sees his name on the windscreen and rear windows. The number 1 on the doors is a due tribute. Then, he starts with the questions. He wants to know everything. The calm tone of voice, the watchful eyes, focused, as if he will drive one of his starships. Intsead, he will bring around the tuscan ups and downs a vehicle that weighs more than twice of his red arrow, and it has one third powerful. I have seen other drivers in similar situations, to dispense smiles at the limit of commiseration for those who, like us, had to work with heavy cannonballs instead of their winged arrows. But he doesn’t. Even if he, the others, those of the smiles, does not even see them. His attitude is that of a driver who knows he has to go to the limit of whatever is given to him. This is Michael. Just total concentration on what he does. All or nothing. I’ll see him shortly together his talent.
Then he gets in the red car, our car. We have prepared tons of cushions for the seat, different types of safety belts: wide, narrow… All kinds of steering wheel together many spacers, pedals of all shapes and sizes. He sits down, fastens his seat belts and says “it’s okay, perfect“. We all look at each other, for sure we didn’t expect a so easy approach.
Engine on, it’s time to warm up all. One of our drivers goes out before him, just to see if everything is working fine. An used set of tyres, then a new set. We asked us a reference, so we need fresh informations. The car comes in and we download the data. We sit down, with him, in front of the computer and, I confess, I was bit excited while we were look through many pages of the telemetry. Once the analysis is over, he gathers his mind for a moment, then says “it’s okay, we can start“. First run. Out, few laps, in. All right, the car is easy to drive, his goodness, he didn’t think it was so much fun. He asks if it’s possible to have a new tyres set. While he is still asking, the car is lifted and fitted with a new set. I suggest to adjust the pressures according to what seen in the previous run. He nods and asks me to confirm him that those tyres are good only for one single lap. I confirm, and I add that it is better to not push in the out lap, until the last, long corner. And he gets back on track.
I listen to the engine echo. He drives with a little more than half throttle. I think, he’s great. Then he goes for the flying lap. And it’s a different rhythm, crisp, perfect. I have my reference at the entrance of the last corner, to know in advance how the lap time it will be. I have to do my calculation twice, I think the first is wrong, and instead here I got the confirmation on my stopwatch. I feel the curiosity around me. I say nothing, just show the stopwatch. I think it’s a great performance. Everybody, without exception, are impressed. Unbeliavable. As expected the second lap is slower, although not so much. He’s coming in. I expect him to say a few words of circumstance, greetings, and go back to his red arrow. But no. He asks, politely, if we can download the data and analyze his best lap. For a good ten minutes we read and dissect his lap, as if we were after a qualifying session. The most impressive figure is his way of using the throttle. No half ways, or fully open or fully closed. All or nothing. Then, satisfied, he greets all the staff and gladly accepts the inevitable souvenir photos. His assistant arrives there, they requires the german ace in the besides garage where the faster red arrow is waiting for him. He thanks us again and goes away.
By our side, the satisfaction that everything went smoothly is huge. We know that we lived an unforgettable moment. For a very brief moment we shared his journey. And it is something that we will be taking in, forever.