Words: Sebastian Vettel
A new car, the LaFerrari Aperta, and a very special test driver, Sebastian Vettel
Let’s be honest, I didn’t exactly jump for joy when they told me I’d have to stay on an extra day in Montmeló to shoot a video for the new car Ferrari was launching at the Paris Motor Show.
I know, I know, some of you will wonder exactly what I had to complain about. And you’d be right. But, in my defence, we’d had the Italian Grand Prix the previous weekend, which is always a big deal for Ferrari. I’d also been tyre-testing on the track at Barcelona, and then I was scheduled to leave for the Ferrari Racing Days at Hockenheim.
After that, I’d be flying out to Singapore with the rest of the team for the 15th grand prix in the Formula One World Championship. Basically, I had a string of commitments that involved a lot of travel and very little rest.
However, that all changed when I got to the track and saw the car in the flesh.
This was the first time I’d got up close to the new LaFerrari Aperta. I’d driven the LaFerrari several times, of course. In fact, just after I first arrived at Maranello, I was lucky enough to drive the extraordinary FXX K around Fiorano [TOFM, issue 28].
Some of you may even remember that I was so blown away when I’d finished, all I could say was ‘Mamma Mia!’ But I’d only seen photographs of the Aperta, so seeing it right there in front of me, I felt a thrill. Plus it was red, which I like because I prefer classic colours and configurations when it comes to Ferraris.
To begin with, however, I really had to hold myself back. And I really had to hold the car back too.
In the first phase of the shoot, the Ferrari’s exterior was covered in video cameras, which were only held in place by suckers, so the technicians had to keep reminding me not to exceed 100km/h or they could fly off. That was tough. Put yourself in my shoes: being out on the track means speed to me.
There’s no point in being out there if you’re not really opening it up. So this was torture. I had to lift my foot off the accelerator every time I saw the speedometer getting to 120-130km/h.
I finally got to floor it in the second part of the shoot when the video cameras were removed and I just had a vehicle with a camera on a Russian arm [a purpose-built piece of hardware mounted on the back of an SUV for high-speed tracking shots] driving beside me. That’s when I really got to let rip. Driving that fast in an open car is just incredible!
The sound of that big 12-cylinder engine was music to my ears. The regular car is sensational enough, but with the roof panel removed it’s an even more intense and emotional experience.
Like the coupé version, the Aperta has all the power of an F1 car, but the electronic differential makes it much easier to control the oversteer. It’s a spectacular supercar with incredible acceleration and excellent handling.
In a car with this much power you need to have total confidence in the chassis, to be in perfect tune with its responses. The LaFerrari Aperta uses all the latest technology to do that, but I found the steering to be precise and the car perfectly balanced.
Initially I put it in Race mode but it wasn’t long before I deactivated the stability control using the Manettino and unleashed all 963 horses! It was fantastic, a true driver’s car. To use one of the first Italian expressions I ever learnt: Che figata! [So cool!] It’s not very poetic but it gets the message across.
I suppose you want to know how fast I went, but I swore I wouldn’t say. However, just pull a nice big number out of the air and add a bit on top, then you’ll have an idea. So that’s the story of a very special day for me. I got to do a job I’m not used to – acting – but I also got to do what I do best and love most: driving on a circuit.
And all in the LaFerrari Aperta, an absolutely fantastic car. I’m a lucky guy.