Ferrari Finali Mondiali
Daytona, Florida – Part 1
For the first time in its history, the Ferrari Finali Mondiali end of season gathering was held in the USA, or to be more specific at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. One of the bonuses of this, compared to its more usual venue of the Mugello circuit in Italy, at this time of the year, is the weather in Florida is much more clement and certainly also a lot warmer. In fact, the whole event was run under virtually clear blue skies and high ambient temperatures for the duration.
The gathering was also probably the largest Final Mondiali ever staged. Apart from the regular Challenge series world finals, F1 and current GT cars demonstrations and Corse Clienti track activity, there was the addition of a concours, plus a floodlit circuit parade for attendees Ferraris on the Saturday evening, when over 800 examples of the cars bearing the Cavallino Rampante circulated like a multi hued illuminated serpent.
Current F1 drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were in attendance, plus F1 test driver Marc Gene, along with a number of the GT drivers, including Giancarlo Fisichella, Tony Vilander, Andrea Bertolini, Davide Rigon, James Calado, Sam Bird and Christina Neilsen. Also in attendance were drivers who successfully raced the F333 SP in period, including the trio who took victory in the 1998 24 Hours of Daytona, with the late Gianpiero Moretti, one of the instigators of the F333 SP project. These were Didier Theys, Arie Luyendyk and Mauro Baldi, whilst Max Papis, who was another successful driver of the model in period, took a turn behind the wheel for old time’s sake. During the Corse Clienti runs there were no less than seven F333 SPs on track at any one time, together with a wide variety of F1 Ferraris. Mention of F1 brings to mind a bonus for attendees, which was an autograph session on the Sunday morning, where fans could get up close and personal with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen plus all the GT drivers who were in attendance. This rare opportunity wasn’t lost on the crowd, and there were massive queues throughout the session.