Ferrari is synonymous with exclusivity, but two Prancing Horse activities, the XX and F1 Clienti Programmes, embody this term perhaps better than any other. Federica Santoro has spent almost twenty years with the Maranello-based manufacturer, coordinating these two activities since 2012. Dedicated to just a few customers, Federica and her team have built a world for some of the company’s most loyal and important owners. It combines activities at some of the world’s most prestigious circuits with truly exclusive events organised in sometimes inaccessible locations. Like other company personnel, her journey began with an internship that led her, step by step, to this prestigious position.
Q: How did your Ferrari journey begin?
A: “My journey with Ferrari started in the summer of 2003, with an internship in the sports press office, just before I graduated. When I think about how I felt at the time, I can only smile. I was very excited and at the same time scared to be at such a prestigious company. I began working with the Ferrari Clubs, an educational experience that taught me the meaning of true passion for this world-renowned brand. The rest of the day was spent on the press review, reading all the articles about Ferrari published daily in the national and international press. After a few years, I had the opportunity to follow the world of Corse Clienti up close as a press officer, and then, in 2012, to cross the road, or to be precise, to go to the legendary Fiorano circuit, home of the department whose activities include these programmes.”
Q: F1 Clienti and XX Programmes are two unique programmes that only Ferrari can offer. Can you describe them?
A: “Unique is the adjective that best describes this world. Events and activities exclusively for a select group of customers, owners of cars that are real works of art. The customer doesn’t have to worry about anything apart from driving and having fun. We take care of everything else. As well as our team’s technical assistance, we offer the invaluable support of exceptional tutors, including Marc Gené and Olivier Beretta, who are ready to reveal all the secrets of these cars and to further improve an already unrivalled driving experience.”
Q: One of the characteristics of these two programmes is the loyalty of the members. What’s the secret?
A: “There are customers who have been with us since the early years and are now an active part of our family. Some give us valuable advice to improve the structure of the services we offer. Perhaps the secret of success is hidden in the performance of these cars that thrill anyone who drives them, and the atmosphere of the events where customers feel quite at home. Since it is clearly a programme for owners from around the world, different cultures and different types of people come together at our events. However, this multiculturalism adds even greater richness to the programme.”
Q: In addition to the track activities, customers are invited to very special and exclusive events. Which one are you most involved in?
A: “We always try to find locations that generally would not be accessible without Ferrari’s involvement. This doesn’t necessarily mean just focusing on luxury. Sometimes we opt for amusing experiences or competitions like a pit stop race held on the Spa circuit, which has seen customers challenge our staff in a real F1 tyre change. One of the events I’m fondest of, however, is the dinner with breathtaking views of the Imperial Fora in Rome, along with the one held at Palazzo Corsini in Florence with a fireworks display over the Arno. I’ve seen some customers moved by so much beauty, and this is definitely the biggest reward. Italy always offers extraordinary locations, rich in history and charm, which can astonish even the most sophisticated customers. Among those held abroad, however, I remember the dinner at NASA headquarters during the Finali Mondiali at Daytona. It’s not often you can dine right under the space shuttle.”
Q: What is the secret behind the organisation of these events, and what are the main difficulties you face?
A: “We usually present the calendar around September of the previous year. The main difficulties are to build an international programme including stages at circuits in Italy and Europe but also Asia and America. We work closely with our Branches and logistics department to calculate in advance the time required for the event and to transport the cars on schedule from one part of the world to another. In addition to arranging the schedule, the real challenge is to ensure an excellent level of service in each round. This is not an easy task when you’re always changing country and sometimes dealing with partners with different sensibilities and styles. However, trying to put all these ingredients together is the most exciting aspect of this project.”
Q: So how will the programmes restart after the announcement of the new calendar?
A: “This year will certainly be unique in so many ways. Looking at the positive side of this experience, we successfully delivered the two American events at Austin and Road Atlanta in March, despite the difficulties. During the necessarily enforced stop, we have continued to work to get back on track as soon as possible. We intend to resume in July with the Barcelona event (21-22 July) and then go to Mugello for an additional round at the end of August. As of September the calendar stays almost the same with the confirmation of the rounds at Spa, the Paul Ricard and the Finali Mondiali in Abu Dhabi. Certainly, the restart will require some limitations and changes to the event format, with particular attention to the safety protocols required in each country. We aim to maintain the pleasure of the track experience even if we need everyone’s cooperation to safeguard the health of our guests and all the staff.”
Q: How important is customer feedback when choosing the tracks to include in the calendar?
A: “Customer feedback is essential and a priority for us. We would like to be able to please everyone, even if sometimes we can’t due to logistical limitations. However, we take every suggestion into account so that we can implement it as soon as possible.”
Q: Last year you organised a special day on the Nordschleife for XX Programmes customers. What sort of feedback did you receive?
A: “The Nordschleife experience was magical, and the XX Programmes customers really appreciated this extra day on the calendar. Everyone was thrilled to compete on such a legendary track, even though we approached the experience with respect for its difficulty and with extreme care. Given that it is a difficult circuit to memorise, we organised a pace car that would show the ideal trajectories for customers to follow. This was driven by someone with a lot of experience of the track, Miguel Molina - Ferrari Competizioni GT official driver - who has clocked up many miles on the Nordschleife.”
Q: What are the medium and long term goals of the XX and F1 Clienti Programmes?
A: “The goal for both programmes is to continue to maintain stability and to strengthen the bond with sports customers by offering events on historic and fascinating tracks. Both the F1 Clienti single-seaters and the cars of the XX Programmes were created with the track in their DNA and our job is to make them run on circuits all around the world. Unique places to be at the wheel of a Ferrari. A thrill and a privilege that only Ferrari can offer its customers.”