Ercole Colombo is one of the most well-known professional photographers of Formula 1, with a studio just a few hundred metres away from the Monza circuit. But, beyond everything, he watched and then photographed races, key moments, characters, technicians, drivers and team owners, starting from Juan Manuel Fangio to date, telling the story of Formula 1 with tremendous images. A professional life lived in circuits and paddocks. Paddock magazine asked Mr Colombo to share his fantasy team.
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This question for me is very easy – I’d pick Enzo Ferrari. A true professional with an impressive personality, Enzo has put his indelible signature on Formula 1, both for sporting results and his management decisions.
First, it would be Jim Clark. A natural. Faithful to Colin Chapman and his Lotus, he was the driver who led innovative solutions to the track, risking at times, testing them for the first time. His actions have generated a real evolution in car racing.
My other driver would be Michael Schumacher. A driver right at the top. Since his start with Jordan, Michael has always given the best. With great passion and professionalism, he managed to get great results from the teams he was part of. With Ferrari, from 1999 to 2004, he has done extraordinary things. I’ve enjoyed working hard with him.
I have some important names in my head, but I choose Jean Todt. Conducting Ferrari is a complex and difficult task yet Jean was able to take advantage of the entire potential offered by an important company to obtain the best result. I want to mention at least three other favourites, even just for the sake of respecting them: Colin Chapman, Frank Williams and Ron Dennis. All professionals and perfectionists who have clogged their hands in the oil before getting to the top.
I’m in trouble, even for this choice. Having been able to appreciate and live the evolution that has occurred in Formula 1 since the 1960s, I think it’s a mistake to put on the same level the technical directors who have been involved in designing and managing the cars. I would probably pick Mauro Forghieri, who was a mix between a design engineer (aerodynamics, chassis, mechanics and engine) and a strategist. In the current era of Formula 1, I’ve noticed similar features in Ross Brawn. However, on the technical side, I can’t afford to forget about Adrian Newey and Rory Byrne.
There are two cars that I always select as my favourite ones. The first one is the Lotus 88 – an extreme car designed by Colin Chapman, who surprised everyone for the technological innovations that were introduced, such as the “double chassis”. Extreme to the point that could not race on the track with the other cars. The second is the Brabham BT52, known as the “arrow”. Born out of Gordon Murray’s pencil, following a change of regulations, the BT52 was, in addition to being a powerful car, really beautiful to observe and photograph.
The cars I mentioned above had a really interesting and photogenic livery. But Ron Dennis’s McLaren style, together with the Marlboro project, was really a step into the future. Cars and clothing of the mechanics, combined with the colours of the sponsors, was the perfect blend.