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Video: Driving Fiorano in a Ferrari 458 Italia
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Video: Driving Fiorano in a Ferrari 458 Italia
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Jun 2011   |  10:02 pm GMT  |  36 comments

Here, as promised, is the video of my drive at the Fiorano test track last week in a Ferrari 458 Italia. I posted on Thursday night about the experience, which was organised by Shell, who are partners with Ferrari both in racing and road car development.

The video gives a small insight into the teaching process that the instructors from the Pilota Ferrari school take you through and the way they focus on improving specific areas of your driving.

It is a fantastic car – exciting to drive but forgiving at the same time. Readers who saw the post on Thursday will recall that my biggest problem was not braking hard enough initially and then co-ordinating the release of the brake and getting into the corner. You can judge for yourself from this video. Enjoy!

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36 Comments
  1. Dan says:

    James, seems like you were short shifting most of the time… were you instructed to do that, or was it just the process of getting used to the car’s power and the track? Also, why did they have that little zone after the last corner set up so that you can’t accelerate until you pass the “gas on” sign? I’m guessing it was to avoid a car slowing for the pits being rammed by a car at full speed…

  2. Mark V says:

    I can’t tell if you are left foot braking or not….do they teach that or is there a choice?

  3. Gizmo says:

    Thanks for sharing James.

    Looks like a really fun ride.

    I was most intrigued by the corner with the cone on the outside left corner. The road made it look like you would turn in earlier but they had put the cone there to remind you to stay out and turn in late.

    Crazy to think of an F1 car around that tight little circuit.

  4. Russell says:

    You need to get the engine on song! Sounds like you’re on a Sunday afternoon drive!

  5. Sebee says:

    Looks like a Sunday drive James. So gentle and civilized, you will surely be invited to test drive the first 4cyl Turbo Ferrari in a few years.

    Was traction control and ABS off? :-)

  6. monktonnik says:

    Smooth steering :)

  7. Becken says:

    Wow. Good job, James. Great comments by Fausto too.

    I think I read here that your father was a driver. I think it would be a great theme for an article.

    Good drive. Congrats!

  8. Dan says:

    Hi James

    Is there any chance of getting hold of a video of one of the instructors driving the circuit? Would be great to be able to get a comparison. Also how easy is it as someone with relatively little experience to set a respectable time there?

    Thanks
    Dan

  9. Michael says:

    Your lines were bang on James, just seemed a little late on the power but that could have easily been due to tc cutting in. I think you were too hard on your driving ability during the last post! Your short shifting through the early part of the lap displays considerable racing sympathy if you know what I mean. Top job mate. A sincere thankyou for all your hard work, i check your site at the end of every day and there is almost always something new and refreshing to read. Take care.

  10. WoZ says:

    Awesome! So jealous James. What do you use for your day-to-day vehicle?

  11. Douglas says:

    Driving where gladiators have perfected their craft.

    Sincere question: Did you get down and kiss the tarmac?

    I probably would have.(When no one was looking, of course)

  12. NJ says:

    Hello James,

    Those are nice lines you are taking through the bends. Wide on the turn-in on some of them. And there are parts where you seemed reluctant and braked a lot earlier than I expected. Feel you could have used a little more engine braking in places.

    Then again, I think any sensible guest would be keen to put a dent on a 458 Italia on the day and by the same token it would have really put a damper in the day to have broken a gearbox. Hehehe.

    Good drive!

    Cheers!

    1. NJ says:

      “… would be keen NOT to put a dent on a 458 Italia on the day…” rather

    2. Speaking as the man who wrote off a Honda S2000 at the UK car launch, I concur that you really don’t want to do that. When a journalist does it it’s bad, but compared to when a hotel’s driver it’s on another level entirely.

      There was (and still is) a absolutely evil, blind humpback bridge on the narrow country lane, less than a mile from the estate. The staff were used to approaching it very gingerly indeed, as you can’t see over the crest until you’re halfway up. I crept up to it as normal, but some hooray in daddy’s car thought he’d impress his friends by getting airborne off it from the other direction. And so I was confronted with two and a half tons of, literally, flying Bentley Mulsanne and that’s all I remember!

      The Honda PR exec was following and she said it looked like two snooker balls colliding: the Bentley stopped almost dead and the S2000 was thrown from the impact so fast it looked like a bad special effect. Had I not been driving one of the cars from the European launch down in Monaco I probably wouldn’t have survived, as the right side of the car deformed quite badly. I was still quite poorly though; broke both my ankles on the pedals, my right collarbone, both thumbs, three of the knuckles on my right hand, a significant head injury and lots of internal bruising.

      Honda were brilliant, their insurance covered everything and the compensation they gave me paid for university. My employer…less so. It turns out dearest …[mod]was the son of one of our esteemed club members and his father was furious and wanted to make sure it was all my fault. He got me sacked and insisted the hotel pay for the damage to his car, which in turn they wanted to extract from my compensation. Honda got wind of it and made it clear that they would back me if it went to court, where of course it wouldn’t stand up so the it all went away and I got my job back and with it, the satisfaction of telling them to shove it!

      So yeah, crashing cars at PR events is bad.

      1. NJ says:

        What an interesting story! And it speaks volumes that Honda was willing to back you up with the same fervor as one of its own.

        Similarly Fiorano has some nasty “false apex” bends. Crests that are semi-blind (I think Turn 4 or 5) it’s always a lot tighter than it looks and if you get it wrong there’s the barrier on your left side and not much run-off.

  13. Old Racer says:

    You need to brake later and much harder, and get on the throttle a lot sooner coming out of the corner. We ought to hear some tire squeal at some point, but the car is being kept so far below its limit the tires are not even close to breaking loose. All this to say that it is much better to drive within your own limits than to exceed them, and “well done” for keeping it off the grass, Mr. Allen.

    1. David Turnedge says:

      Yes, if it was on road tyres, definitely tyre squeal was missing.

      I also echo the comments on short shifting.

      Ah, it’s so easy for us arm chair critics… in reality we’re all so envious!

      1. James Allen says:

        They were pretty sticky Pirelli P Zero tyres

      2. Oliver Knight says:

        Surprised you managed to make them last so long, it must be your super smooth JB style!

        Properly jealous of you, properly.

  14. Marco says:

    Nice. So lucky to have done this mate. I’m heading to Maranello myself in august, hiring a 458 for a few hours can’t wait now. Any advice on the car?

  15. F1a says:

    You do seem a little… relaxed :)

    Kind of like a shopping trip in a Fiorano :P

  16. charles says:

    I want your job. do you need an assistant?

  17. Owen Li says:

    Your driving was good!Always kept on the racing line,using kerbs,and did better lap by lap.
    The speed was thrilling!Right?

  18. Rich C says:

    You should be arrested for having toooo much fun!

  19. Matt Wil. says:

    Here a lap with 458 Italia by Fernando Alonso (last minute)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQMxt8dNpoE&feature=related

    and here a lap with F10

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_wlsAJ-VMA

    1. Bryan R says:

      Great video James, pretty jealous I must say!

      Hey Matt, thanks for the F10 vid too, but check this vid out with Alonso in the 458… Great stuff!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UulAT32FkIY

  20. Very well done. I’m just waiting for the announcement that you will soon start charging $10,000/year subscription to your blog…

  21. Billy says:

    Video footage never looks as quick as it actually is.

  22. jonnyd says:

    is the dash readout showing in kmh or mph? on the digital readout?

    1. James Allen says:

      Kmh. Peaks at 200 on pit straight

  23. Nil says:

    James this is slightly off-topic. What was the mood like at Fiorano? Is it tense or intense? Are the engineers eying a fightback this year or is the focus shifting to next year?

  24. Edd Porter says:

    Wow. Your style looks so smooth – it’s like your just cruising. Looking at your telemetry, though, you must have been pushing. I guess it’s one of those things that you can’t really appreciate until you try it yourself (and I never have). I find that even the F1 TV coverage never really relays the sheer speed and power of the machines. Oddly, McLaren’s track/simulator guide to the Monaco GP this year has had the biggest impression on me as to the marvel of an F1 car.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think that says more about the car than my driving!! You do get going very fast, as the instructors push you on.

  25. K-F1 says:

    James, do you know if the steering-ratio of the F458 Italia / any sportscars are 1:1 or 1:12? From the video it looks more like how race cars like F1 handle in terms of steering

  26. anthony says:

    whats with all the shortshifting???

  27. Sufyaan Patel says:

    Seems like a great day out James. I’d love to take part in something like that. Make sure you take me next time ;)

    Just thought I’d share this with you guys:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahPN6JvYGK8

    Its not in English, but you can get the jist of it. In a nutshell, the reporter is challenging Alonso to do a lap of Catalunya using his imagination (steering wheel in hand too). Fernando has to complete the imaginary lap in a time which is +/- 3 seconds of an real timed lap. I think it is amazing!

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