23 April 2022 21:45
Like an anomaly. On the train to Imola on Saturday morning, a black teenager, dreadlocks and sunglasses, dressed in a full Mercedes suit, sat in the middle of Italian typhoid. This young man, like Lewis Hamilton, ignored the smiles on his phone where his hero’s photos were scrolling. Not a word was spoken, but if one of his neighbors had opened his mouth, he would definitely have said something like this. “Here is the country of Ferrari”.
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The Private Grand Prix between 2007 and 2020 is behind closed doors for its return last year, with the Enzo e Dino Ferrari track in disarray for forty-eight hours. Imola’s population doubled over the weekend to more than 130,000 visitors. To go down the Mazzini is to go through a monochrome history. Everywhere is red. The porch of a bank branch reveals a shimmering single seat under the eyes of passers-by gnawing Ferrari biscuits. A stone’s throw away, in a small gallery, is a suit signed by Eddy Irvine, the second world champion of Northern Ireland with the Scuderia in 1999. To use a formula heard on the street, “Imola doesn’t just have Ferrari, it exists only for Ferrari”.
A success story”
At 3 p.m. Sunday, thousands of typhoids will focus on Charles Leclerc’s number 16, who will start second behind Max Verstappen (Red Bull). The Monegasque driver rekindled the faith of the community in three races. With him, hope of a world title is reborn for the first time since Kimi Räikkönen in 2008. And a victory at home, the hope of reconnecting with Michael Schumacher’s magnificent watches. Curva Tosa last shouted the name of Scuderia’s most successful driver in 2006. Disappointing results in Formula 1 since then have never tarnished the manufacturer’s shine. Günther Steiner, the only Italian team manager to be in the paddock with Mattia Binotto (Ferrari), readily admits that he shudders for the national legend and not just because his Haas was motorized by Ferrari. “This is a success story, with a strong Tyrolean accent. It is necessary to be arrogant, even ignorant, in order not to give in. »
Interestingly, the Modena-based first historic red car dealer sees better sales in off-peak years in the speed championship. The birthplace of Enzo Ferrari celebrates the 10th anniversary of the opening of the museum dedicated to him. Under a vast yellow dome, one of the colors of Modena, 15 models are displayed, from the 375 MM produced in 1953 to the 208 GTB Turbo from 1982. Celebrating the past to better prepare for the future was the founding motif, for whom “The best Ferrari ever made is next”.
Slow food, fast cars. This is the name given to a tourism circuit created in 2015. Purpose: To guide car enthusiasts to other riches of Romagna heritage. Balsamic vinegar is made here, tenor Luciano Pavarotti was born here. But without a doubt: Emilia-Romagna’s greatest treasure is, above all, the Motor Valley. Or a unique concentration of luxury manufacturers. The list evokes a craving to carve the way: Lamborghini, Ducati, Maserati… Michele Pignatti Romano has the smile of someone who finds a good formula. “I see only two institutions in the world that appeal to so many believers: the Church and Ferrari”, The director of the Modena and Maranello museums laughs.
I see only two institutions in the world that speak to many believers: the Church and Ferrari.
This longtime maid proudly presents its newest showroom, detailing 2021 achievements across all categories. All except Formula 1. “I’m ready to push the walls if Charles Leclerc keeps going”, Since 1952, the Scuderia awaits the hallowed Hall of Fame, where eight world champions have prostrated themselves in front of their cars (15 championships in total).
Each year, the two museums host 600,000 visitors, 80% of whom are foreigners. Some spend the whole day there, immersed in an almost mystical contemplation. “We can open all the exhibitions we want, but people come for the cars” notes the director. The most expensive exhibition model, estimated at 80 million euros, is at hand. “We’ve never had a security issue as visitors respect that. » It’s like in a place of worship.
At 17:00 Maranello changes his face. Tourists in Bermudas are being replaced by silhouettes in red overalls coming out of the factory or the Gestione Sportiva building. They march one after the other in a slow procession that will take its place in a movie by Paolo Sorrentino. The statue of the famous prancing horse, Cavallino is the nerve center of an industrial town where everything is named after the Ferrari family: monuments, streets, auditorium.
A legend to continue
This setting is familiar to Nicolas Todt. He grew up in the heart of Red Square with his father, Jean, who ran the Scuderia for fifteen years (1993-2008). “Thirty years later, nothing has changed, she smiled. Ferrari provides a special feeling for all car enthusiasts. » He visited the ultra-secure factory several times, a privilege reserved for several sponsors and owners, recommended by authorized dealers. It is no coincidence that the agent mentions Charles Leclerc, whom he has counseled since he was 13 years old. At Spa-Francorchamps in 2019, Monegasque became the youngest Ferrari driver to win a Grand Prix.
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The last French winner is named Jean Alesi (1995). There were others before him. René Arnoux, 73, battling for three victories and the world crown in 1983, still has stars in his eyes: “What other manufacturer has both a history etched in marble, a tremendous history, and the beauty of their cars? » Isérois was in Maranello on Tuesday to commemorate the death of Gilles Villeneuve. He met Leclerc, who had come to shoot the T4 of the Canadian driver who was killed in the race forty years ago. “We feel everything”, Sakhir and Melbourne’s hero obviously moved more comfortably in his own single seat. The championship leader gave his distant elder the following confidence that gave hope for a great season: “As soon as I put the hips in the car, I felt that he was born well. » The legend will live on.