Hooligans in pole position. It has never been seen before in Formula 1 racing, but it is feared that one must tolerate such a situation. The atmosphere at Hockenheim is special - one of fear. Strange because in the world of Formula 1, anything can happen, even the worst. One thing you mustn’t do is to criticize the fans. Usually, 100 or 150,000 people altogether watch the race. Now, we come to learn that the German and English racing fans taunt and even fight with each other. The same troublemakers, are still excited from the last face off at Silverstone, between Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill. German authorities have announced extraordinary security measures for the race. Not only will the Williams team not wear their traditional outfits, in favour of civilian clothes, but also they’ll be travelling in an unmarked bus. They are afraid of the German hooligans. That way, on the other hand, they are concerned with Schumacher’s safety if faced by hooligans posing as Damon Hill’s fans. One learns, in fact, from Damon Hill, an intelligent man, who told Schumacher, «let’s make peace» We are still waiting for an intelligent response from Schumacher.
Giovanni Lavaggi is a smart, confident guy. He knows how to act, and how to live: he’s a man of few words, and yet says what is on his mind. Giovanni Lavaggi is like that. He doesn’t speculate. In the world of Formula 1, where you can smell fried air, you can breathe, and even touch, the Sicilian driver suffers a bit. But, he wanted it. Finally, he made it at just shy of 37 (his birthday is in February). He debuts tomorrow (time trials) and Sunday (race day) at Hockenheim, in the German Grand Prix, in a Pacific. Debuting at 37, the age when others are retiring is rare. .
|How does it happen? He couldn’t enjoy his wealth, his victory in the U.S.A., where he won, the 24 Hours of Daytona, just to name one, his degree in mechanical engineering, his plush residence, obviously in Monte Carlo? No, he wanted to race in Formula 1 and it became an obsession. Of course, say his detractors, Lavaggi has plenty of money, he has solid sponsors, it wasn’t hard to realize his lifelong dream.|
«Don’t be ridiculous» says Lavaggi. «that’s enough of that. It’s not true that I am a driver with a suitcase full of money. If that was true, I wouldn’t have taken so long to get to Formula 1».
His story is worth telling. As usual, short and to the point, «My father never gave me a lira. He didn’t believe in racing. You have to study, it’s better» he would say. He was right. I followed his advice, and I got my degree. But, passions are passions, and you can’t do anything about that».
So what was Giovanni Lavaggi cooking up? «Raced, and how, I raced. I started racing motorcycles. At night, I stole the gas to race the next day». The boy was growing up. He left Sicily and came to Milan to study. Engineering text books and races: that was his «diet».
|To make extra money, to pay for school and races, I worked as a messenger. I delivered «pizzas» that is, the television film reels for Canale 5. My route was Milan-Bologna-Florence-Perugia||I drove like a madman. At weekends, I stopped at Magione, at the Henry Morrogh Driving School. Morrogh was an extraordinary man. He believed in me. He was the first.|
And that’s how Lavaggi, the professionist started. First, Formula Panda, where he won, then Formula 3000, where he won, then again, in the U.S.A., where he won. But Formula 1 is still far away, it’s not worthy of attention. Lavaggi has realized it only now. It’s late, too late. «For me, it’s OK. I want to prove to myself that I am able of racing at this level. Without Formula 1 in Europe, you’re nobody».