If real Grand Prix were on the agenda, drivers in the Ferrari F1 Clienti programme would have to go through pre-qualifying, so large are the numbers of enthusiasts who have realised their dream of acquiring and driving one of the single-seaters prepared by the Prancing Horse’s Reparto Corse. And their enjoyment is enhanced by not having to deal with any organisational problems. For these special drivers, non-competitive events are organised which fit in to other meetings organised every year by Maranello: Ferrari Days, the Challenge and the World Finals. Therefore they take place on famous circuits, equipped with all the latest safety requirements.
This is a guarantee which is combined with the modern levels of protection insisted on through the current F1 technical regulations. And it’s not just the owners of ex-Schumacher cars, of which there are many, but owners of all the cars involved who can put themselves in Michael’s shoes in terms of the running of their cars. All they have to do is turn up at the race track. All car maintenance, transport and even the race suits are provided by the F1 Clienti Department created in 2003 within the Ferrari Corse Clienti, based at the Fiorano track. The department looks after the cars during the events, but its core activity is the maintenance and restoration of Ferrari single-seaters from 1970 to the present day. Although it might be more accurate to say from the past to the day before yesterday, given that cars are only taken on after a two year moratorium after their final season of actual competition. Thanks to an automated archive that can supply drawings for every part of these single-seaters, the department can get their hands on any car, be it recent or from the distant past. Taking on this task, “conscripted again” if you will, are the same mechanics who once attended to Lauda, Alboreto or Prost.
The long run of championship wins for Ferrari, dating back to 1999, has naturally given a boost to the driver owners, who have also been helped by the fact that these cars are particularly easy to drive, especially those from 2001 and 2002, as the rules allowed for electronic control of traction and they had an anti-stall system on the engine. Furthermore the aerodynamic configuration was less sophisticated, which means drivers can be more confident behind the wheel. Even though these cars have their revs electronically limited to 17,000 rpm, and a gearbox with set ratios to avoid changes that would bring no real advantage, they can still hit 330 km/h going down the main straight at Monza. Among the amateur racers in this field, a good number have never been on track before, but have still decided to savour the taste of Formula 1. The process takes a gradual approach, with personalised modifications available, including adjusting the cockpit area to suit the size and physique of the driver, as well as using a baseline set-up. After that comes a track debut at Fiorano, where the confidence built up is truly invaluable.