The 36th Beyond The Grid podcast of 2019 has Aldo Costa discuss about his early days, F1 career, success with Ferrari/Mercedes and more.
As his years-long career in F1 draws to a close, Costa sat down for a special episode of F1 Beyond The Grid podcast where he kicked-off with the discussion about his personal success with 26 championships under his belt with Ferrari and Mercedes.
He credits his curation of teams, pointing out that prior to Ferrari’s glory days in the former half of the 2000’s, he built a solid design team around himself to achieve his first titles. Then came talks about his journey to F1, where Costa had a totally different idea.
He revealed that his original dream was to become a driver until he thought better of it, and pursued chassis design in F1 with Minardi. He was amazed by the different car designs of the 70s, when he grew up, which pushed him into designing.
Jumping to more recent times with Mercedes, Costa gave his two cents on how the German outfit has been so dominant, which he puts down to great personnel, who work together towards a common goal, which has helped them win six titles in a row.
Costa, though, did give Toto Wolff credit, saying that on a more individual level, he was especially impactful due to his ability to work well with the team, as does James Allison, another key player in the Silver Arrows’ recent success.
The Italian engineer also mentioned that Lewis Hamilton is vital to their on-track performances, and even compared the Brit to another famous figure he worked with, in the form of the seven-time F1 champion, Michael Schumacher.
“He noted that it is difficult to make connections, with them racing in different eras of the sport and their different styles, as Hamilton prefers battling, when Schumacher was stronger on the technical side and helped the team in development work.
They discussed about testing on circuits in the olden days when simulators were less prevalent which they coupled with Costa’s move from Minardi to Ferrari. Costa said he never truly dreamt of working with Ferrari specifically despite his Italian heritage.
He was more focused on the technical side, rather than that of a specific team, even though it did feel a bit more special to move to the scarlet red team, particularly with the team size ramping up, even though he initially worked on the F50 Le Mans.
His F1 work only started in 1996 when Ferrari released the unorthodox ‘armchair’ design, which Costa put down to design philosophy and design team changes. Prior to that, however, at Minardi, he had plenty of fun and special moments.
The most special was working with Pierluigi Martini, who Costa had a great relationship due to their minimal age difference and mentioned as being better than his statistics would let on, as he led them to several ‘highlight’ races.
Even with this low-pressure, fun chapter in Costa’s career, his highlight season remains having been at Ferrari in 2004, when they dominated nearly every race. However, he was quick to clarify that F1 2004 was no easy season.
He had to keep the team fired up, as he felt keeping the streak of winning is much harder than one might think. Particularly difficult, was the severe pressure from the media and the fans, who made working at Ferrari far more stressful than working at Mercedes.
The now-Dallara employee went on to reveal the true reason for joining the German team, which was a desire for revenge on the Maranello-based team, which he left on bad terms, challenging his love of F1 as a sport.
It was his wife that convinced him to stay in the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’, and move in with Mercedes. And, while his early seasons with Mercedes may not have been exceptional, Costa explained that enjoyed his stay at his new team, particularly in 2013.
Still, he believes the most recent F1 regulations have been best suited to Mercedes, and on a more personal level, he prefers the most recent changes, with faster cars up and down the grid. He then spoke on how ideas such as the new gearboxes come about.
He said that, the majority of the time, one person comes up with an idea, and then the team build on that together. To round out the podcast, Costa talked about his recent move away from F1 and towards Dallara, which is not the sign of him ‘slowing down’.
Listen to what Mika Hakkinen had to say on F1 Beyond The Grid podcast
The story was written by Duncan Leahy and edited by Darshan Chokhani