"Do you know Via Manzoni?" Peter Collins asked over the phone. "It's where the big Armani store is. Tonio wants to look at some clothes, so meet us there and we can sit down and have a chat." Already it was shaping up to be an interview out of the norm. Approaching the granite building I saw that familiar stride, all chest and legs like a boxer, topped by an infectious smile which is returned unconsciously by everyone he meets and an outstretched hand. Everyone who meets Vitantonio Liuzzi says the same thing – there is something about his enthusiasm that is contagious.
Ford Motor Company's decision to withdraw from all Formula One activities, namely selling the Jaguar team and engine maker Cosworth (or shutting them down if there's no buyer), has an effect on more than just the employees at Milton Keynes. After all, just a couple of weeks before Ford's announcement, Minardi and Cosworth signed a new engine deal for 2005, that will see Cosworth provide Minardi with latest-spec engines. Like the Jordan team, which also relies on the Ford-subsidised engines, Minardi have now found themselves caught in uncertainty and apprehension over their future existence.
In my first visit to a Formula One paddock I had been invited into the Minardi garage for a session, and I felt then that I had perhaps died and gone to racing monkey heaven. If anything their garage was even better appointed now, and after Graham confirmed it was okay Ross went and stuck his head into anywhere it would fit, while we stood at the back chatting, and smiling at the enthusiasm in front of us.
"That's the bit that does it for me," Graham said, "I love to see the enthusiasm on someone's face the first time they see all of this."
"It reminds you of your own first time, doesn't it?"
"It does, and I think I'll miss it - I'm not sure that I'll be back next year. I love this life, but it's hard to do it for ever."
"I know exactly what you mean. But what do you do after this?"
"You find something else to do, hope that you love that life too, and keep a little piece of this in your heart, I guess." Continue
Early this year McLaren team boss Ron Dennis was in the wars – he had suffered the indignity of building a car that was never driven in anger (the MP-18) the year before, and the media pack was baying for blood. After suggesting that the situation had been successfully turned round and that the team were looking toward to wins in the season, Bob McKenzie, long time Formula One journalist for The Express, stated: "if McLaren win a race this year I will run around Silverstone. Naked."