The second day of my visit to Ferrari at Maranello was spent at the Fiorano test track driving 458 Italia cars with the Corse Clienti staff.
Instead the circuit is used for things like the Ferrari Driver Academy, which brings on young drivers using two year old F1 cars. Interestingly, one of the things I have learned while here is that Sergio Perez was part of that programme last year and is very well regarded at Ferrari as a consequence.
There have been rumours about him as a possible replacement for Felipe Massa one day. It also means that Kamui Kobayashi is going up against a known Ferrari quantity. I don’t see Kobayashi being the kind of driver they would go for, I think they’d be much more likely to try to woo Jenson Button from McLaren, but you never know.
We were very lucky to have on hand Raffaele De Simone, the chief test and development driver of Ferrari road cars and a skilled team of driver instructors. I’ll post a video soon of how I got on, so you can all have a good laugh.
We had it explained to us about different lines, there’s the standard racing line, but then there is another line whereby you sacrifice some time on the entry to a corner like a Esses or a hairpin, which lead to a straight, but the payback is you get the power down early and are much faster as a consequence.
There are some quite tricky technical corners at Fiorano and it’s very enjoyable in a car like the 458 Italia, which is very forgiving, but which has some drive modes which really allow you to push, even for someone who’s nothing special behind the wheel, such as me. It’s a tight circuit but we were hitting over 200km/h on the main straight.
Now I understand clearly how crucial it is to lap time, it’s something I come away from here determined to go deeper into with F1 engineers and drivers and to find out which drivers are best at it.
Below is my telemetry sheet from an early outing. Numbers across the top are the corners (map of Fiorano is at bottom of sheet)
It shows my performance in red and the benchmark driver in blue. You can see how I brake at the right moment, but not hard enough initially and then don’t release the brake quickly enough.
Steering (bottom trace) is pretty good, but I put the power on too early out of corners “Too aggressive” I was told.