As a result of the continuing restrictions on the use of the Modena Autodrome to test cars, for safety reasons in particular, Enzo Ferrari began to think about building a private track, to be used for testing both production models and racing cars. From a financial perspective, the deal with Fiat had left Ferrari with no money worries whatsoever. Furthermore, the company already owned a piece of land on which to build the circuit – an agricultural plot near the factory in Maranello, adjacent to the town of Fiorano Modenese.
Work began in 1971, and the circuit was opened on 8 April 1972, making Ferrari the only F1 team to have its own private testing facility. The total length of the track was 3 km and the minimum track width was 8.40 metres. Ferrari would have preferred to have a straight a little longer than the 1339 metres that the track actually featured, but this proved impossible. The total length of the bends measured 1661 metres. The layout of the track reproduced some of the most challenging corners of the most renowned F1 GP tracks of the era: the “Tarzan” corner in Zandvoort, the “Brünnchen jump” at Nürburgring and the hairpin inspired by the “Gasometer” corner in Monte-Carlo, which then became the famous “La Rascasse” curve. The idea was to obtain a wide range of left- and right-hand corners with differing radii. The alternation of these corners enabled Ferrari to evaluate cars’ handling, weight distribution and braking ability, as well as engine pick-up and acceleration out of the bends. The track’s straight, meanwhile, meant that high-speed braking could be safely carried out. Elsewhere, the slight incline of certain sections was used to analyse vehicle behaviour and stability during changes in trajectory. Both the straight and the fast corners were useful for assessing the aerodynamic efficiency of the cars. Fiorano thus became an extremely useful training ground for the Scuderia’s drivers, as well as for its technicians and engineers. Right from the start, the track was described as an experimental test track, in order to emphasise the fact that it would never be used for racing – this also meant a ban on public access, with only one car allowed to lap the track at any one time.
Over the years, the track was subject to certain modifications; first, a chicane was added, increasing the length of the track to 3021 metres, with subsequent changes shortening it again to 2997 and then 2976 metres respectively (without chicane). Depending on the type of car in question, the average speed over a lap is more than 160 km/h, with a maximum speed of 290 km/h. The circuit has a pit lane with a garage, and today is equipped with an advanced telemetry system that provides all the information required when developing a car. A video system with fixed cameras captures the entire track.