The "Reds" party at the Valencia Circuit
Cheste (Valencia,) 28 November -- Today, Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit staged the event most eagerly awaited by the crowd of Ferrari faithful. Against the backdrop of the World Finals, the event which has brought the Prancing Horse company's racing season to a close for the past eighteen years, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Formula 1 team took to the track along with some of the main competitors in the various international GT championships to salute the crowd of over 15,000 who had gathered at the Spanish track. The parade got underway when Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, driving a 1954 375 Indianapolis and 1957 500 TRC respectively led out a 1961 California driven by Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and the President of Santander Bank, Emilio Botin. Bringing this extraordinary display of jewels from the past to a close were three Ferrari Californias, with on board, Ferrari Managing Director Amedeo Felisa, the third driver for the Formula 1 team, Giancarlo Fisichella and two official test drivers, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene, as well as local hero Alvaro Barba, along with his team-mate Pierre Kaffer, winners of the International GT Open championship. In the second part of the exhibition, Barba and Kaffer then took turns at the wheel of one of the F430 GT2 cars brought on track by the Italian AF Corse team, winners of the Drivers and Teams titles in the Spanish International GT Open series, along with three star drivers, Gimmi Bruni, Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander, standard bearers for the Houston-based Ferrari team, Risi Competizione and AF Corse, in the prestigious Le Mans Series and the American Le Mans Series. Bringing the celebrations to a close, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso took to the track for a few laps at the wheel of two F10s, with Luca Badoer in an F60, as well as doing some simulated pit stops. Finally came the traditional photo of everyone involved in these four busy days in Spain, prior to a final farewell to the partying crowd.
Ferrari World Finals: grand finale in Valencia
Today, Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit hosted the last day of the Ferrari World Finals, the special event, which for the past eighteen years has given fans from all over the world the opportunity to see gathered together those involved in all Ferrari's racing and sporting activities. This morning on track were the F430s entered in the Italian, European and North American Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli, fighting it out for the world title. Also in action were the historic cars taking part in the Ferrari Historic Race --Trofeo Shell. The busy programme also featured untimed sessions for the historic single-seaters run by Maranello's F1 Clienti department and the FXX and 599 XX, entered in the eponymous development programmes.
Once again today, it fell to the runners in the Ferrari Historic Race -- Trofeo Shell to get the day's action underway, taking to the track for the second and final race. Pierangelo Masselli in a Ferrari 308 GTB made the best getaway off the grid, going straight into the lead, which he was able to keep all the way to the chequered flag. Second was Christian Chavy in his F40, while the third step on the podium went to Canada's Lorne Leibel in a 365 GTB4.
Spectacular passing moves and plenty of action were the key ingredients of the final races in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli, to crown the world champion from among entrants in the Italian, European and North American series. The Trofeo Pirelli race saw the title go to Philipp Baron, who was already European champion: behind the Baron Service driver came Max Blancardi (Motor/Malucelli) and Riccardo Ragazzi (Ineco/MP,) while in the Coppa Shell for gentleman drivers, the sought after title went to Flavio Pierleoni, in the Ferrari entered by the Motor/Malucelli team, who crossed the line first ahead of newly-crowned Italian champion, Andrea Rizzoli (Motor/Piacenza) and Aleksandr Skryabin (Ferrari Moscow.)
Once the excitement of the racing was over, it was the turn of the competitors in the GT championships and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro to put on an amazing show: the crowd of around fifteen thousand spectators witnessed Fernando Alonso driving the Monoposta Corsa Indianapolis, which dates from 1954 and Felipe Massa piloting a 1957 500 TRC. These two splendid historic cars were first on track, followed by another jewel of the Ferrari Classiche department, the '61 250 California, driven by Ferrari President, Luca di Montezemolo, with alongside him, Emilio Botin, president of the Santander Bank. Bringing the first parade to an end were three Ferrari Californias, with Ferrari Managing Director, Amedeo Felisa joined by the drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella, Luca Badoer, Marc Gene and Alvaro Barba.
As is traditional, the key moment of the parade was the appearance on track of President Montezemolo to salute the fans, when he took the opportunity to thank the team and driver for their efforts this year.
Next, the Grand Touring drivers, Alvaro Barba and Pierre Kaffer, took turns at the wheel of the F430 GT2, run by the AF Corse team, which won the drivers and team titles in the Spanish International GT Open series, as well as two more Ferraris driven by Gimmi Bruni, Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander, as used by the Risi Competizione and AF Corse teams in the prestigious LMS and ALMS championships.
Bringing the curtain down on the celebrations were Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso at the wheel of two F10s, with Luca Badoer driving an F60, completing several laps of the track, as well as simulating pit stops, prior to the traditional photo with all those who had taken part in the four days of Spanish action, before one final farewell to the celebratory crowd.
Ferrari Historic Race -- Act two
Valencia, 28 November - Competitors in Race 2 of the Ferrari Historic Race Trofeo Shell had the honour of getting the final day of the Finali Mondiali Ferrari underway at the Valencia circuit, named after Ricardo Tormo. In a repeat of Race 1, Nathan Kinch was unable to make the start in his F40, number 106, because of a gearbox glitch. On a track still very damp from overnight rain, Pierangelo Masselli made the best getaway in his 308 GTB and went on to comfortably keep the lead all the way to the chequered flag. Mister John of B set off in pursuit, but on lap 8 he was caught out by the track conditions and got his 365 GTB4 stuck in a gravel trap. Second place therefore went to Christian Chavy in an F40, while third place on the podium went to Canada's Lorne Leibel at the wheel of another 365 GTB4. Further back there was a great scrap between Plinio Haas in the long wheelbase 250 GT Berlinetta, Lary Kinch at the wheel of a 275 GTB and Gerald Fellner, driving a 250 GT 2+2: up to the halfway point, Haas managed to fight off his two rivals who were trying everything to get by, with the occasional off-track excursion included. They eventually managed to get the better of the tenacious Swiss driver, who nevertheless fought back to make up one place to the detriment of Fellner. The race really confirmed just how much excitement a group of historic Ferraris can deliver on track.
Massa: " A lovely day"
Felipe Massa was one of the main attractions at this fantastic final day of the 2010 Ferrari World Finals. "I am happy to be here: it's an amazing event and it's nice to be here alongside our fans and our customers and to see so many extraordinary cars out on track," commented the Brazilian driver. "It was really a lovely day."
As for the subject of Formula 1, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver could not but draw a parallel between the way the 2008 and 2010 seasons ended, when in both cases, a Prancing Horse driver lost the fight for the Drivers' title at the very last race. "They were both very difficult moments for the team. Sure, in Brazil two years ago, going into the Grand Prix, we did not have much of a chance, but then, during the race, the situation developed so that it looked as though I could win, but it all changed in the last two corners. Two weeks ago, on the other hand, Fernando set off leading the classification, but we know how it turned out in the end. You cannot compare the two situations, but I can understand how my team-mate felt."
Felipe is already focussed on the future after a season that definitely did not live up to his expectations. The first step on the road to next year has already happened last week in Abu Dhabi, where Felipe was able to carry out the first test with the new Pirelli tyres. "First impressions are very positive," revealed Felipe. "The tyres immediately worked well, without the need to drastically change the car set-up. Sure, there is still work to do, but it was a really good day. I don't think 2011 signifies a crucial year for me. Fundamentally, I have been in this situation often. I remember that at the start of 2006, many people said I would only last a year at Ferrari and then I won races that season and went on to stay for a long time more. In 2008, there was a lot of pressure, especially at the start, but I managed to cross the line at the end of the final race as world champion. This year, there were many who said I would have a difficult year after my accident in Budapest: it turned out that way, but not for that reason. My approach always remains the same: starting the championship with the aim of winning as many races as possible. Over the years, the names of at least ten drivers have been put forward as replacements for me at Ferrari, but I am still here!"
Alonso: "Proud of the Scuderia"
very relaxed Fernando Alonso greeted the crowd and the press at the "Ricardo Tormo" circuit at Cheste, on the outskirts of Valencia. Asked if he was disappointed with the team after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he replied, "I am proud of what the Scuderia managed to achieve this season. In a year when we did not have the best car, we managed to get to the last race still in with a great chance of winning the title after staging a really strong recovery. In a race like that last one, anything could happen, as this is a sport, not pure maths. The comeback we mounted from the mid-point of the season onwards, the way in which we all pulled together, more united than ever, is much more important. There were races where we lost points, just as there were some where the others lost more, otherwise they would have won much earlier.
"So much has been said about Abu Dhabi, but it's easy to talk with hindsight," continued Fernando. "But I think that at Red Bull they would have made other choices after Korea for example. The team was very disappointed with the missed opportunity but Ferrari's great strength is that does not sink into depression because of one mistake, on the contrary, it reacts to be even more determined the following year. "Personally, I really want to start again," concluded the Spaniard. "I expect again that four teams -- us, Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull -- will be in the fight for the top. My first year at Ferrari was very nice and brought much satisfaction. If you think that at the beginning, I didn't even know the name of all the mechanics, then the start of next season should definitely be more straightforward. We are proud of what we have done and, at the same time, aware we have to improve."