Ian Poulter is in his element when competing with the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in front of thousands of spectators at the biggest golf tournaments in the world. In the past 12 years, the self-assured 36-year-old golfer has won a total of 11 European Tour events, has …
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Ian Poulter is in his element when competing with the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in front of thousands of spectators at the biggest golf tournaments in the world. In the past 12 years, the self-assured 36-year-old golfer has won a total of 11 European Tour events, has become one of the sport’s top earners and established himself among the game’s elite.
However, the usually confident and brash golfer is clearly humbled by his surroundings at the home of Ferrari. We are sitting in Enzo Ferrari’s former house, just a pitching wedge from the test track, to chat about his first ever visit to Maranello to witness the production of his custom-made FF and enjoy a few laps on the track.
Enzo’s office in the house is untouched since the Ferrari founder last sat at his desk there in 1988. An old yellow Bakelite phone sits on the imposing desk, various pictures and memorabilia litter the room and there is a television that is twice as deep as it is wide in the corner.
Poulter is awestruck as he looks around the room, drinking in all the details and soaking up the atmosphere. ‘This is truly one of the most memorable moments of my life, to learn more about him, his humble beginnings and absolute confidence in the brand he was creating is really inspiring. Enzo Ferrari never compromised in order to be the best, and Ferrari has done a fantastic job of continuing that tradition.
‘Enzo Ferrari literally built his house in the middle of the Ferrari test track to ensure he didn’t miss anything when his beloved race team were testing and preparing for races. Now that’s what I call commitment…’
It is testament to Poulter’s love of the brand and its rich history that he is as excited by being in these sacred surroundings as he was when hurtling around the track in an F12berlinetta driven by test driver Raffaele De Simone.
‘The drive was incredible. Raffaele had it sideways most of the time, apart from the straights of course. Being taken out on the track was absolutely amazing. The F12berlinetta has 740hp and you have to give that car a lot of respect. It’s so powerful yet so stable. It’s very fast and to have a couple of laps with Raffaele was amazing.
‘I’d like to come back and do a few laps myself and spend a bit more time with the test drivers. They could give me a few tips and show me how to get round the track.’
After an animated recollection of his on-track experience, the conversation then switches to Poulter’s morning tour of the factory to see his personalised FF. He saw it just three days from completion on the production line and was delighted to see there was enough room for his golf clubs in the boot. Poulter has his own IJP Design golf clothing company and he is very hands-on with the designs. It is clear he takes the same approach with his cars.
‘If you come up with a concept, they’ll be able to customise it for you. The pearlescent white exterior and the black leather seats are a great combination. I love the white look and all my cars are white. The roof liner and trim is tartan, which is perfect for me because we do six tartans in my IJP clothing designs each year and it was nice to add a little bespoke touch. The colour scheme used in the tartan matches the exterior so it pulls everything together.
‘I wanted to use carbon fibre like Cobra has used for me in the Ferrari driver. We’ve used it where we can, like the internal door handles, around all the buttons, in the centre console and on the air vents. The red scorch lines that are on the sole of the driver have been used around the air conditioning vents, so we’ve tied that in.’
Poulter examined each stage of the production process in minute detail. ‘It was amazing. They produce about 34 cars per day through the factory. I’d heard an awful lot about the factory, but I never realised just how big it was and the level of detail involved. Obviously Ferraris are handmade as much as they can be, but the level of personal touch that goes into each car is fantastic. For instance, each V12 engine is built by one person who signs it off at the end of the build.
‘Then there all the little touches, like taking the doors off before the car goes on the production line, so they don’t get damaged and then the 50-stage process they go through to be built and customised. It’s fascinating.
‘Then we moved over to the Formula One department, which are the real big boys’ toys. They have a whole development side of that where they store all the cars, from the FXX to the 599XX and the single-seater F1 cars, which the customers can buy two years after they come off the race track.’
Poulter is a self-confessed petrol head and this new custom-made FF is not his first Ferrari. He has also owned both a red 360Modenaand aCalifornia, which he liked so much he bought it in red and white. Even his shoes are emblazoned with the unmistakable Prancing Horse and distinctive red trim of Ferrari.
‘Ferrari is one of the most recognisable brands in the world; the Prancing Horse stands for itself. The whole motor racing background, what it was built on and what it stands for today. You really get more of a sense of it when you visit Maranello and realise how much has been done with the cars over the years.
‘Ferrari has stood the test of time and this is a fantastic place to visit and discover more about a brand that’s very addictive. Once you become a true petrol head and a motor racing fan, then you always look to where Ferrari is.’
Owning one Ferrari, let alone four, was the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition and a vindication that all the hard work had paid off for a man who was working in a humble pro shop at a modest English golf club when he was 23.
‘I remember watching races on television. Like any boy, I grew up playing with cars as a kid and realised what Ferrari stood for and its racing heritage. The whole brand has been ingrained in me from such an early age as the ultimate car that everybody strives for.
‘I said to myself when I turned pro that once I won my first tournament, I’d buy myself a Ferrari. I won the Italian Open, funnily enough, in 2000, and wanted to buy one, but unfortunately the cheque wasn’t quite big enough. I think it was £88,000 [€111,000] at the time and after I’d paid tax there wasn’t enough money, so I said I’d buy one after my next win.
‘I won the Moroccan Open in 2001 and that was a slightly smaller cheque, so again I couldn’t afford one. But this time I said, “Right, the next win I’m definitely buying one.”
‘It happened to be the Italian Open again in 2002. It was pretty apt and something was definitely telling me it was time to buy a Ferrari. I’ve loved them ever since and everyone’s perception of Ferrari is the same when you talk to them; they love the cars.
‘I think anybody who loves cars and motor racing strives to get better cars. We all want bigger and better things and one of the luxuries in life from being successful at the job you do is being able to treat yourself to amazingly nice things, and for me, that happens to be a Ferrari. Hopefully, we can continue to buy the luxuries in life and we’re very fortunate to be able to do so.’
The finished product was delivered to Poulter at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a prestigious collector car show in August, where some of the most rare and valuable vehicles on the planet are paraded on the 18th fairway of the famed Californian golf course.
‘It was a little bit overwhelming, no tears or anything, but I am truly honoured to have a relationship with Ferrari. Seeing the car unveiled really made me think about how far I have come over the years, it was a pretty proud moment.
‘I took it for a drive right there atPebbleBeachduring the Concours d’Elegance as soon as I had the chance. It’s a great car to drive and I can’t wait to get it back home, it will definitely be getting some good use…’
Published on The Official Ferrari Magazine issue 19, December 2012