Italian racing fans are well known for their deep love of Ferrari, but the same goes for the Scuderia's drivers too, as GT aces Gianmaria Bruni, Davide Rigon and Andrea Bertolini can attest.
Attending the Finali Mondiali event at Mugello, Bruni, Rigon and Bertolini were on hand to assist with the unveiling of the brand-new 488 GTE racer as they look forward to continue their alliance with Ferrari for a long time.
Edging closer towards securing the 2015 WEC GTE Am trophy alongside Viktor Shaytar and Alexey Basov in Bahrain, Bertolini is a day-to-day regular in Maranello, working full-time for Ferrari as a test-driver.
The Modena-born driver's duties are not limited to racing: “It’s something special and I’m so lucky to live this every day," said Bertolini. "Every morning, I wake up and I’m on a race car, on the simulator or test-driving for the F1 customers.”
Bertolini has been part of the family for more than 20 years, becoming the youngest Ferrari test-driver ever at the age of 18. “It’s tough to describe. It’s something you have to experience with great passion, and probably the greatest satisfaction is to see the joy and the excitement in the eyes of our customers when they ask questions or collect their new car.
"It’s also a great responsibility because you represent the world’s most important brand. When the day is over, there must be no ifs left behind.”
Despite being rumoured for a possible step to the LMP1 class, 'Gimmi' Bruni does not really consider other options: “I feel at home. At 34, and after nine years here, I just want to keep going, especially with a new and exciting project coming.
“I would love to end my career here, right where I started it after my stint in single-seaters. But for now I want to focus on my main goal: winning one of the world’s most challenging championships in 2016”.
The same goes for Rigon, who moved over from single-seaters in 2013. After experiencing his share of successful runs and painful moments, including a nasty crash back in 2011 in GP2, he is now a key asset for the Italian manufacturer.
“It’s a life choice," said the 29-year-old. "I like the world of Ferrari and I love the cars that I’m driving. Of course the commitment is full-time - even if I wanted, there wouldn’t be enough time for something else.”
Rigon is ready to line up in Bahrain alongside James Calado, and is hoping for a miraculous turnaround: “It will be tough. We have to win and hope for a mistake by our opponents, and they don’t mess up very often. Our only goal will be to win the race and see what happens.”
For all the Ferrari GT drivers, the next race is the only focus, as explained by Bertolini. “All the wins and the rest are in the past," he said. "Maybe I will have some great stories for my grandkids one day, but now it’s all about the present.”