In the opening five years of this century, Michael Schumacher and Ferrari dominated grand prix racing, setting record after record as the scarlet steamroller annihilated their opposition, winning across the globe at will. Such was the hegemony that Schumacher and team-mate Rubens Barrichello could switch positions on the last lap, on the finish line and even on the podium.
Ferrari's domination might have damaged Formula 1's TV ratings - the sport's lifeblood - but not the Prancing Horse itself: the German (and his team) were feted from Melbourne to Monaco, from Montreal to Monza, as millions of Red Riding Hoods unashamedly bought into the Ferrari dream.
The precious red road cars they may not have been able to afford; however, quilted anorak, peak cap or aftershave set were all within budgetary reach. These added up, such items ultimately delivering profits which collectively exceeded the revenues generated by the sale of the mainstream product. Schumacher, too, profited enormously: in 2003 he was the world's largest milliner, selling over 30 million caps...
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South African-born Dieter trained as industrial engineer before holding down a variety of senior motor industry marketing and manufacturing positions. At the age of 40 he decided to follow his passion, and became the first and only South African journalist to cover Formula 1 regularly. Dieter joined AtlasF1 at the beginning of 2004 – a year prior to its merger with Autosport – and his regular column offers an intriguing analysis of F1’s politicking and commercial chicanery. Although now also proudly Belgian, he gives his domicile as "Wherever F1 duplicity lurks".@RacingLines More features by Dieter Rencken