For many people, climbing into the cockpit of a Formula 1 car is the dream of a lifetime. From their very first outings in a go-kart, it is a tantalising goal for drivers to aspire to. And if the single-seater is red with a Prancing Horse on a yellow background, it represents the dreams and goals of a very privileged few. Driving a Formula 1 Ferrari is a pleasure and a responsibility that only a tiny elite of champions ever come to enjoy.
Following the Finali Mondiali, this club has five new members: James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, Daniel Serra, Miguel Molina and Toni Vilander. The track activities at Mugello continued for Club Competizioni GT customers and the five official Competizioni GT drivers who received a special prize as a reward for a memorable season.
"We often say that we have a group of exceptional drivers at our disposal, not for the results they achieve but also for their ability to work with the team to continuously improve our cars and their performance," commented Antonello Coletta, Head of Ferrari Attività Sportive GT. "To thank them for their commitment and for the wins achieved in our colours, we wanted to organise a surprise that we hope they'll never forget.
This surprise came in the form of the Ferrari F60, a car that the day before had been the star attraction of the Ferrari Show that had entranced the 28,000 fans thronging the stands. These five drivers enjoyed a double stint in the single-seater that the Maranello-based company employed in the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship season. They completed a limited number of laps, all under the watchful eye of the men from Corse Clienti.
As "tradition" dictates, firstly the drivers helped in moulding the seat for the cockpit. That was followed by a rather unusual briefing, given that the instructors were other official Competizioni GT drivers, like Giancarlo Fisichella, Andrea Bertolini, Olivier Beretta and Davide Rigon.
James Calado, who was Force India's third driver in 2013, was the first to let rip with the 8-cylinder F60. The Briton added another great thrill to his season, to go with his triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Daniel Serra and Alessandro Pier Guidi. His usual FIA WEC partner, Alessandro Pier Guidi, wasn't in the least inclined to rein back his enthusiasm. "I've never seen Alessandro smile like that before," joked James.
"It's been my dream ever since I was a kid!" replied the Italian, who had to dash to Mugello from Portugal where, just a few hours earlier, he had won his fourth seasonal victory in the ELMS, a series he finished as champion. The thrill of driving the F60 made up for the sacrifice, which the third winner of Le Mans, Daniel Serra, said he would have made, "even for a simple shakedown or just whenever it was needed! I'd take the first plane out of Brazil to get here!" said the driver from Sao Paulo, only half joking.
As soon as the drivers climbed out of the car they spoke about their first feelings and the features of the car that surprised them the most. What they all had in common though was a big smile and an air of sheer enthusiasm that impressed the onlookers. The highly experienced Toni Vilander, once again champion in the Blancpain GT World Challenge America, was equalled thrilled, saying that he was "indebted for this wonderful opportunity." It was the same for Miguel Molina who, in his own way, at mid-season had already achieved his dream of racing in the official cars of the Prancing Horse in the FIA WEC world championship.