Some people are into golfing—it's their escape from the daily grind. Others prefer hiking, some like to travel, and so forth. Hardcore racing enthusiasts like Steve Ottavianelli like to own, maintain and drive former Formula 1 cars. And not just any F1 cars, but Michael Schumacher's old F1 cars. He has two of them.
In the latest episode of The Late Brake Show, host Johnny Smith was allowed inside Ottavianelli's garage, which he built himself, and houses the Benetton F1 cars. The Benetton B193b and the B193c were both driven at some point by Michael Schumacher and Riccardo Patrese. The B193c was the car Schumacher drove more often and the predecessor to the car he won his first championship in. Whereas Schumacher only qualified in the B193b.
Ottavianelli has owned the B193b for 18 years but it isn't just an ornament. It isn't just in his garage to show off to friends. The enthusiast not only drives it, but he meticulously maintains it. Admittedly, he does need help. An F1 car requires a team of people to run, especially since the B193b was among the first-ever Formula 1 cars to have advanced traction control systems, a flappy-paddle gearbox, and sophisticated driver aids.
The other F1 car in Ottavianelli's garage is the B193c, but it wasn't in starting shape for the video. It's currently undergoing some work and is missing many of its vital components. It's being disassembled, however, allowed Ottavianelli to show Smith some of its inner workings—and it's fascinating to see.
In the video, Ottavianelli starts up the B193b for Smith, which requires two people. Ottavianelli was on a laptop while his son used the external starter motor, given that F1 engines lack the internal starters production cars have. Once fired up, the naturally aspirated Ford V8 was so loud they all needed ear protection—and that was at idle. I can only imagine the sort of deafening soundtrack it makes at full chat from inside the cockpit. Prior to starting it, though, the engine needed external warming to bring its oil temperature up to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit), otherwise starting it cold could seize the engine.
I like to wrench on my own cars but I cannot imagine the skills necessary to maintain such a complex and expensive piece of machinery. Even a nearly 30-year-old F1 car looks aerospace-grade compared to modern performance cars. Forget golf, that's how I want to retire.
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