Well, I’m still here. I deserve a telling off but I thought I should point out a thought-provoking fact: in 10 years’ time, there will be cars that drive themselves so you can just sit there and be driven, catch up on your work or whatever you like... You’ll probably counter that not much will change for a Pistunzen like me. That’s where you’d be wrong. How would you like to be answering to an over-excited driver demanding more horsepower or cutting off your fuel to brake in a hurry? That whole scenario worries me a little. Sure, Ferraris will always be driven. But where will it all end? Will we end up racing in cars driven by ghosts?
For those who don't know, Pistunzen is our mascot. This baby-piston is actually the only one allowed to sneak into the secret departments of the Ferrari factory in Maranello. Every now and then he likes to blog about what happens behind the scenes, check it out!
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The supercar exhibition features a host of information on Ferrari technologies and an extraordinary display centring on the styling of the new car. Pistunzen is very proud he’s been asked to welcome visitors with clear, simple technical explanations This time I really am part of it: I have a very important role to play at the supercar exhibition at the Museum in Maranello. My job, in fact, is to explain all the technical stuff to visitors. It might seem only natural for a Ferrari Pistunzen to be asked to do something that tricky, but it won’t be easy. However, I’ll do my best to deliver the goods as usual. Sticking with family gossip for a moment, I recommend that you don’t miss my 12 brothers who’ll be looking good in the engine of the LaFerrari, Maranello’s new supercar. The hybrid engine set-up is presented pretty spectacularly as it’s been broken down into its various components so it’s very easy to see how it works. Even though I’m not that keen on them because they don’t have pistons, I have to concede that the two electric motors do help my brothers punch out almost 1,000 hp. Looking forward to seeing you all at the Museum. It’ll be fun!
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That lovable rogue and symbol of Ferrari passion, Pistunzen, provides easy-to-follow explanations of the technologies featured in the Ferrari Museum’s upcoming Supercar exhibition Dear friends, it is with a huge sense of pride that I can reveal that I’ve been enlisted by the Ferrari Museum in Maranello to provide (hopefully) clear, simple explanations of the technologies used in the Ferrari Supercars. I was delighted that the Museum’s management felt that I was the right character to perform that particular role. If all goes well, I’ll soon be handing out autographs! Speaking of which, the Supercar exhibition officially opens on March 8th and runs until the end of September. Check out the details at the Museum’s website: museo.ferrari.com
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Maybe it’s because my job means I spend my life at full throttle but I just can’t understand why so many people have such short memories… It’s easy to sit there on the sofa, beer in hand, gabbing about the Ferrari single-seater and how it can’t and won’t deliver what Alonso needs. I’ve spent a lifetime in engines and what I remember of racing is what some of those people have clearly forgotten: the experiences of the big international car giants like Toyota, BMW and even Mercedes today, prove just how difficult Formula 1 is to get right. In fact, both Toyota and BMW eventually threw in the towel and gave up in frustration. So how can anybody criticise a constructor whose driver is still in the running for the title two grands prix from the end of the season? Only one man can win but that’s the beauty of the sport. Watching that extraordinary race last Sunday was beautiful even though realising it would mean just three extra points did give me a bit of a headache. But are three points small fry? Maybe if you consider that Fernando getting eliminated at Spa and Suzuka on the first bend cost us a lot more. Take it from me, if those two incidents hadn’t happened, Fernando would be well out in the lead. But that’s motor racing for you and people love Ferrari because it knows both how to win and how to lose. So let’s leave the armchair critics to their sofas, because we here in Maranello, keep the pistons going day and night.
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Massa’s excellent performance in Japan galvanises Pistunzen When Felipe Massa first arrived in Maranello, he still looked very much like a little boy and I liked him immediately. I felt we were a bit similar, perhaps because he’s quite compact and a bit impish too. Because a Pistunzen can never stray too far from the track, I was at Fiorano in 2002 the first time he sat behind the wheel of a Ferrari Formula 1 car. And I have to tell you that I was very impressed with the confidence he displayed even from the first lap. Then – you know how it is – I stayed the same old Pistunzen and he became famous. I don’t mean he ever got any airs or graces around me. Far from it. But he was no longer the half-impish, half-scared young lad I’d met that first day. I was very sorry to see him so off-colour these last few months. I’d even begun think we wouldn’t be seeing the old Felipe again. But then at Suzuka last Sunday, he really did drive very well indeed. I know a thing or two about tracks and, let me tell you, Suzuka, along with Spa, is the toughest of the entire season. So, Bravo Felipe! He looks like he’s 10 years younger again!
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The thrill of watching a grand prix and listening in on the dialogue between driver and pits. Pistunzen tells you all about Monza. Everyone knows I’m well in in Ferrari. But I think a few of you will still be envious to learn that I watched the Monza Grand Prix from the pits and listened in one the drivers’ conversations on my headphones. Back in my day, all the drivers did was go out and drive but now they’re in constant contact with the pitwall to improve their strategy during the races. Felipe didn’t say much. He had a great race and his car did the business. Fernando, on the other hand, was much more talkative because he made to make his way back up the pack because of the positions he’d lost after a mechanical failure in qualifying and, more importantly, as a result of Vettel’s moving across to prevent him passing which resulted in the Spaniard’s car ending up on the grass. That made Fernando lose his habitual cool and he burst out: “Did you see what he did to me at 340 km/h?” His engineer Andrea Stella calmed him down at once by telling him that everyone had seen the incident. In fact, Vettel was given a drive-through penalty shortly afterwards. It was a truly emotion-packed moment for me, even though I’m well used to all kinds of races. But the most thrilling thing about the entire Grand Prix was the last three laps. Don’t forget the rear shock and spring of Fernando’s car were damaged when he went off the track and towards the end of the Grand Prix both the driver and the guys at the pit wall were worried something would give. Fernando kept checking how many laps were still to go while his engineer warned him to keep off the kerbs to avoid putting further stress on the damaged suspension. Nerve-wrecking stuff! But fortunately, everything turned out okay in the end. And even I, made of the hardest of hard metals, felt my heart soften and melt.
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I remember well how Enzo Ferrari used to criticise the Monday Morning Moaners who only ever looked back over what might have been while he and the team had to keep ploughing on. It’s just like now: first you hear “the Ferrari isn’t great”, then “it is great” and then “They should have changed the tyres earlier…”. Plus all the other things we here in Maranello have heard endless times before and which, if we actually bothered to read them all, would leave us no time for actual racing. That’s just how it is in Formula 1, so you have to put your head down and keep going. You can’t listen to anyone else, just trust in your own ability. Anyone, such as myself, that spends their life actually inside engines powering them along knows that. So well done to Stefano Domenicali, Pat Fry, Marmorini, Alonso and Massa who’ve given us back that great sense of pride we’d gotten so used to. I, for one, am content.
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He interviews Alonso at the press conference in Mugello! I did it! I asked Fernando Alonso a question at the drivers’ press conference during the Ferrari Passion Day at Mugello! Take a look at the photos and you’ll see me there, poking my head out from under Antonio Ghini’s jacket. I asked Fernando what if any difference there is between the various F1 engines of today given that one dominates in every race. Initially, I was a bit disappointed by his answer: he told me that the engines are all now more or less on the same level and make no real difference. He said that different engines winning in different race conditions really depends on other factors. That was a bit of a harsh blow to a poor old Pistunzen, I can tell you. But then he added what I was hoping to hear: he said that if there were no regulatory limits, they’d make the best engines here in Maranello! And he is so right! So many generations of my family have brought victories back to Maranello and I’m only too ready to continue that tradition!
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Pistunzen fondly remembers the days when he drank Lambrusco with springs and shocks Please don’t call me old but I really do find it unacceptable that we pistons are so easily forgotten these days. Years ago, victory was almost always down to our prowess because we managed to spin the driveshaft faster than anyone else and unleashed the horsepower for the driver to control. Now, of course, there is a whole host of other formless characters with no real identity in the mix: “wings”, “spoilers” and “nolders” that one day are swanning around all airs and graces and the next thrown aside while we plug away on their behalf. And don’t get me started on the way Pushrods are ruling the roost one day and then Pullrods the next. Kinship indeed. In the good old days we’d go drink a glass of Lambrusco with the dear old shocks who were happily married to their springs and always did their job, just like ourselves. I have to admit that the components in a racing car now make up a very large, extended family. Probably too large. They say that open families are all the rage nowadays, but a healthy Pistunzen as the pater familias, as was once the case, would be a fine guarantee indeed.
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My memories of my great-grandfather who knew Enzo Ferrari Forget about Rome - Fiorano looked more like Alaska than Italy the day the Formula 1 car was to be unveiled. Despite the fact that I’m not that small myself, I couldn’t see over the white drifts of snow lining the little track ploughed out on the circuit for Massa and Alonso in the FF. What a life: me shivering and shaking on my tod, and the two of them sitting pretty in the four-wheel drive. Good old Montezemolo was right again when he reminded us that the great Enzo Ferrari himself was born in the midst of a terrible snowfall. Where would we be without him? My great-grandfather Pistunzon (a true colossus – he worked in a tractor) told me about it. He said that Enzo’s father only went to register his birth on February 18th 1898 a day or two after the fact, because the snow was so deep he couldn’t get out of the house before that. So, given all that Ferrari achieved in his life time, this snowfall for the birth of the F2012 augurs well. Take my word for it!
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They are a few stalwarts left in this age of simulation. And Pistunzen is one Just take a look at the cars of today and compare them with automobiles built 50 years ago: they’re completely different on every level. In fact, the only thing that no one has dared changed are the pistons! That said, we too are subject to the whims of fashion: we’re shorter and a slightly different shape, but a good Pistunzen is still a good Pistunzen no matter what decade you look at. Of course, nowadays they put us through our paces in the gym too: by that I mean those super-sophisticated simulators they use to hone us. They use them to make the other parts of the car do super-human stuff too. Once upon a time, everyone was satisfied with the old spark plugs that one gave off one lovely spark at a time. Now they have to produce three per combustion. I thought they were looking very worn out lately because of all that action. The same goes for the valves – they were allowed to complain a bit in the past and give us a few good whacks on the head. Now though, they’re as meek as lambs – controlled by the car’s electronics which change their structure without a word of warning just to please the driver. Against the backdrop of all this progress though, Pistunzen and his brothers are stalwarts of tradition. A tradition that’s looking forward, not backward, needless to say. So don’t get any ideas that we’ll be allowing those silent motors with their electrical coils to put us out of a job anytime soon!
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The Maranello Christmas party trail…. These are tough times for pigs. Because of my long service to the company, I was officially invited to the special dinner held to celebrate Luca di Montezemolo’s 20 years as Ferrari Chairman. It was a fantastic night and after some excellent tortellini with cream, they served us up a pork shank each! And there were 2,400 of us or thereabouts! That means 1,200 pigs because they only use the front shanks because the back legs are used for zampone which is stuffed pig’s trotter. As well as 1,200 prosciuttos, not forgetting sausage, pork scratchings and coppa. The amount of stuff they make from those poor little pigs! Once when I was at the trackside in Fiorano I heard a rather jaunty lady saying “They don’t throw away any bit of the pig, not even the telephone number”. Now I see what she meant! Then we had the Formula 1 Christmas lunch with Alonso and Massa and all the guys from the GES. I have to say Marmorini and his guys annoyed me a bit because they use these jittery, rather unpleasant piston rods that I can’t stand. But the lunch was great and we even had lentils. Now if they do as they’re supposed to and bring wealth to the Formula 1 team, all to the good, because that’ll mean we’ll be winning. Last but not least, we had the press dinner where the menu hasn’t changed in 20 years: tortellini in a clear broth, blade of veal and panettone. It’s a timeless dinner: the Chairman talk about the racing, his memories, the drivers and the season while journalists, who are the same group of people that have been coming for years, sit taking notes. Then we all toast the coming season. There were times when we used to toast the season just ended too. But this year, it seemed better to focus on the next one. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, everyone!
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Leaving poor Pistunzen in the heartland of the electric car was a clumsy thing do, but it opened up the door to the future for him… I’m very depressed today. Actually, I’d like to ask you for a bit of support because a depressed Pistunzen will make even the best sparks useless and sadden the car it’s in. Do you want to know why I’m so depressed? Because the good old editor decided to take me to the Motor Show. He didn’t know where to put me so he left me in the only place I really didn’t want to be: the Electric-City Pavilion. You won’t believe it but they were staring at me as if I was some kind of half-extinct species. Me? I’m a Pistunzen from Maranello! You dear friends, can drive around in your silent, Pistunzen-free cars, but I have a new girlfriend and she’ll take me far. I can’t tell you much about her for now but when I tie the knot with electricity, you’ll really see sparks fly! I won’t be depressed then!
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My granddad, Pistuzòn, witnessed the birth of one of Sergio Scaglietti’s great masterpieces. And here’s the story… I was told this story by my grandfather, Pistunzòn, and I’m very proud that the editor-in-chief has asked me to pass it on. When I was only a boy, my granddad used to tell me stories to help me learn about my future profession. You really have to be on the ball here in Maranello, as they say. One of my favourite stories was about how Sergio Scaglietti came to produce the amazing Ferrari GTO. My grandfather witnessed it all because, in those days, cars were different to now. Back then, they made the chassis, fitted the engine, suspensions, brakes and all the rest first. Then there was the dash, the steering wheel and the driver’s seat. Basically, you could drive a completely naked, skeleton of a car. My grandfather was in the engine mounted on one of the motorised chassis sent off to Sergio Scaglietti to be bodied. It was to be a competition GT: low, aerodynamic but capable of being used on the road too. When I asked him how Scaglietti made the body, his answered sounded completely far-fetched: “He didn’t use any designs. He just took some iron wire and bent it into the shapes from the nose to the tail and from one side to the other. He took into account the clearance room they’d need for whoever was at the wheel and the extent the wheels and the carburettor intake trumpets stuck out. “Basically,” continued granddad, “he designed it three-dimensionally, by creating this sort of cage that showed what the volumes were. He then took the sheets of aluminium and literally beat them into curves over sacks of sand until he got the right shape. And that’s how the GTO came into being: bit by bit. It was an instant stunner. And I was very proud of it too…”
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Racing on a wing and a prayer – cheap and cheerful days The Editor in Chief is right: there should be more cheap and cheerful formulas in racing. I remember many years ago when I as a piston aboard his 500 and we had gone to do a hillclimb race - the Coppa del Nevegal, near Belluno. We’d done really badly in qualifying. I felt that a valve was giving me trouble and I let him know. He, naturally, enough was very concerned but he didn’t have a mechanic with him because he didn’t even enough money for a hotel. And so he had to ask for help. At the time there was a very famous Alfa Romeo mechanic and prepper called Sivocci who felt sorry for us and came over to have a listen to what myself and the valve were up to. He thought about it for a minute and then said: “Don’t worry. You can race – just put a glass of Vaseline oil in the petrol first”. After we’d done that, we coughed out a bit of smoke, but the valve didn’t give us another moment’s trouble. And believe it or not, the day after, we actually won!
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We’re better at using our mouths than our eyes… Think before opening your mouth: what parent hasn’t said that to their children? And it’s something that holds just as true for we Pistunzens as it does for you humans. You might say to me: “Well, when the engine’s running, you pistons don’t just talk, you make it sound like all hell is breaking loose!” Point taken. But that doesn’t stop us seeing and reasoning either. It really does make me incredibly sad to see, for instance, punches of flowers laid at a roadside to mark the site of a tragic accident. If you look closely (and you won’t need Hercules Poirot or Sherlock Holmes to help you), you’ll quickly spot the guilty party. A pole ill-placed to divide up a traffic island, a light post at the side of the road, a badly signposted and lit roundabout that some poor devil has smashed into in the dark of night, and so forth. Signs have a huge role to play in these tragic cases: oftentimes a sign that’s either not clearly visible or too close to what it’s warning of can cause drivers to take actions that begin a chain of events the outcome of which is unpredictable to say the least. What more can I say on the subject? This: please highlight any dangerous spot where there has either been a serious accident or looks as if there soon will be. Use the web to do so, bring it to the attention of your local newspapers and TV stations. Lots of voices together will have more impact than one. I can vouch for that as I adore being one of 12 pistons in a fine Ferrari engine. As the old saying goes: there really is strength in numbers.
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Pistunzen’s heart breaks for Marco Simoncelli It’s no joking matter. When you talk about drivers dying, sadness overwhelms everything else. I only want to say one thing in memory of the great Simoncelli: in my day, and by that I mean the 1950s and 60s, a lot of motor racing drivers died. Too many, in fact. There was one odd thing about the accidents: if the driver, who wouldn’t have been wearing either a safety harness or a fireproof suit and shoes like now, ended up out cold on the asphalt with his shoes still on, you knew he was still alive. If he’d lost his shoes, you knew he was gone. Someone explained to me that it was a natural thing – a sort of contraction that caused the shoes to come off. I never miss a moto race because I have relatives involved, and because of the extraordinary courage and skill of the drivers. But when last Sunday, I was watching the Moto GP in Malaysia and I saw that helmet rolling around, a shiver ran down my spine. I remembered the shoes of long ago. Poor, dear Sic. I didn’t know him personally but I loved him in the same way that I love anyone that has the courage to do the thing they love. I’ll remember you.
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How electronics stops those darned valves bashing us over the head I personally never had any great fondness for electronics. I always felt those kinds of innovations just break the magical spell cast by the folks that invented the combustion engine. Folks like we pistons. They annoyed me a bit, to tell the truth. However, I have to say I’ve changed my mind. This is because, for 60 or 70 years, we pistons were locked in an ongoing battle with those darned valves as every now and then they’d bash us on the head. Let me explain the situation from a piston’s point of view to a non-piston: when a driver made a mistake and either revved the engine too high or accelerated at the wrong instant, those darned valves would bash us over the head, making a kind of ticking noise and really hurting us badly. I don’t even want to think about the kind of damage that could happen to the engine. Then, electronics came along with its magic wand and that kind of stuff completely disappeared. So, now, even when the clumsiest of drivers decides to hit the accelerator harder than strictly necessary at 1,000 rpm, the ECU steps in and adjusts everything in advance so that we poor pistons don’t get terrible wallops on the head.
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Pistunzen at the Targa Florio: thrills and spills This time really wore me out. Not only did they slam and bang me left and right in the hairpin bends along the Targa Florio route, but I also got shaken up and down in the potholes, landslides and chasms that have sprung up to devastating effect along those great roads over the last few years. As a Ferrari Pistunzen, I know the Apennines around Modena well and it is true that there has been some road slippage there because of the clay soil. But I had no idea how bad things were on the Madonie Circuit. On a few occasions, it actually felt like we’d fallen into a well. But that was far from the end of the emotions for us: they also made me do the whole tour of Etna. Not once but three times. Climbing up and up until it felt like we were on the moon with pitch black lava left and right. That had a big effect on me. I wasn’t scared, of course (don’t forget that Pistunzens can’t get frightened). But it was great: there were even some pre-war get-ups with my grandparents puffing away desperately in their engines as they struggled with the hillclimbs. Needless to say, the Ferraris had no such problems because they’re built to cope with any kind of challenge that’s thrown at them. My particular car, which was a little on the elderly side, went so beautifully that we got so carried away we ran out of fuel! How embarrassing, was that! We had to turn her around and then freewheel down the hill for about 10 kilometres until we found a petrol pumps. Luckily though, hardly anyone noticed. Which is good because if anyone realised that cars can run without Pistunzens, I’d be pensioned off!
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Our very special guest will have to learn a thing or two about social etiquette now that he’s going to gala evenings… They didn’t tell me to bring an evening jacket but, to be honest it, never even occurred to me to get one. Invitations to gala evenings like the one at the Venice Casino don’t come Pistunzen’s way too often. This time I was invited by mistake and found myself amongst the high-profile collectors in whose honour the gala dinner was being held. I hid myself away in a corner of the powerboat that was ferrying us down from the Lido and watched the gentlemen who’d brought their cars all the way from the US, Hong Kong, India, Argentina and South Africa to spend four days on the roads between Maranello Venice and the Colli Euganei hills. These old Venetian palazzos can feel a bit oppressive with their stuccos, their big paintings and those enormous chandeliers I always feel might fall down at any moment. But the other evening the enthusiasm of the participants was such that the Palazzo Vendramin felt almost merry. Mind you, the ladies weren’t quite so merry, as they’d been forced to spend the summery Italian days but sitting alongside their husbands as they played with their Ferraris, rather than browsing the luxury shops and boutiques. I’m sure those slightly severe expressions were a prelude to demands for treats that will inject a few euros into our economy! I spent a while chatting with my cousins – all of them quite elderly now as the cars they belong to are from the 1950s and 60s. They told me that they were a bit torn up when the 30 participating Ferraris really let rip on the old Lido circuit. The poor old Pistunzens were going flat out at 6,000 or 7,000 rpms. That might not seem like much today but for cars built in the days of coughy carburettors and fickle magnetos, it’s plenty. In the end though, they were all delighted because – and this I attest to personally – we Ferrari pistons are proud to be the authentic heart of the emotions that are cars deliver.
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Behind the scenes at a grand prix – Pistunzen gives us the lowdown They brought me to Monza on Friday, a day that have been long and boring. So I set myself the task of finding fun stuff: first off I went for a nose around the team hospitality areas. I felt like I was walking into some kind of fine food fair rather than a car racing track: the place was coming down with delicious things to eat even though there wasn’t a drop of wine anywhere. For obvious reasons! The really funny thing was that the more important the team, the more sumptuous the hospitality area. The first one I saw when I arrived was the Hispanica team which always starts from the back of the grid. They had a very elegant motorhome but much smaller than the set-up the likes of Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull and, of course, Ferrari line out. We have two articulated trucks and basically build a small three-storey building that even has its own bathrooms. I also discovered that Alonso and Massa have their own little room on the second floor, a place they can go to get away from the media and relax a little before the rac. Facing it are the offices where the engineers and drivers get together for their famous strategy meetings. That’s a long way from the campsites my friends frequent in the summer, I can tell you. When I tried to get inside though, they slammed the door in my fact. That’s a pity because I could have given them some sound advice…Of course, I can’t blame them either. Strategies have to be secret and I am a bit of a gossip. I also had great fun wandering around the stalls selling team gadgets. It felt like I was on chic Via Montenapoleone in the middle of Milan. The Ferrari one is all-red, naturally. A bit of yellow would go nicely there too if they were selling me as good luck charms. Over at the Pirelli stall, they were letting people try their hand at tyre changes. The poor fools’ efforts were laughable – it was rather too like what happens if my Panda gets a puncture at night and it takes me forever to change the wheel! But there was a very enthusiastic air to it all and I had a great time. Just one thing annoyed me a bit: I put my sunglasses on and no one recognised me, so I didn’t get to sign as much as a single autograph. Next year I’ll be better prepared.
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Pistunzen kept our Editor-in-Chief company at the Uniques concours d’elegance. And, of course, he didn’t go unnoticed, choosing the oddest and most original cars in the place. No surprise there. I caught him in a good mood and convinced him to bring me to the Uniques concours d’elegance in Florence. I promised I’d behave myself but they quickly pointed out that I wasn’t properly dressed for the occasion. Despite the heat, in fact, everyone there was formally dressed in jackets, ties and Panama hats. I’d l have liked that…Imagine what I’d have looked like in a Panama! So while he chatted with all and sundry (blah, blah, blah) about Ferraris, I went looking to see which cars I liked best. Don’t mention this to him, but I excluded all the Ferraris – they’re his specialist subject and I don’t want to get into an argument with him. So I chose the strangest oddest cars I could find. Some even looked like me. One was called the Doretti – a slightly ridiculous car built to race in 1947. Its name though is as imaginative as its design: the owner’s wife was called Dorothy. So they gave her name a little Italian twist, it morphed into Doretti. No comment. I also adored a Lancia Aprilia styled by Zagato just before the war. It’s a cross between a bit of bunting and an aeroplane wing. I’d have happily taken it for a test-drive just like the old Aston with its trumpet air horn. I wonder what it’d be like to race one and get your rivals out of the way by blowing that! Then, I got a bit of a fright when I found myself face to face with the Mefistofele, an enormous monster of a thing from 1924. Amazingly, it turned out to be a Fiat, with a six-cylinder engine with six giant pistons inside. The exhaust on it looked like the pipe on my old friend Sivocci’s stove. There were also a couple of not-bad-looking little Bugattis, but I didn’t like their noses – too long for me. And I’d be too small to see over the steering wheel. What I did like was the Allard, a big green English car with an American engine, because it had a real bull dog nose on it. Needless to say, himself immediately noticed me looking at other cars. He popped up beside me when I was at a Rolls Royce which had an incredibly extensive array of spares including spark plugs and cylinder head seals. I hoped that it might even have a few pistons like myself in there. I was getting all excited even thought my English isn’t great. But there weren’t any and then that boss called me. Luckily for me there was a fabulous buffet and so I got slightly lubricated, shall we, saw on the finest of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil. Now that was fun!
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DIARY OF TRANSATLANTIC VISIT I got quite a fright when I heard about the hurricane bearing down on New York. I don’t travel a lot on my own (when I do, it’s usually tucked away inside the engine doing my work like the good little piston that I am), but this summer, I took the plunge. I applied for a visa for America and had myself whisked off to California. I didn’t know how far that was from New York then, but now that I do know, I’m not scared any longer. Every summer California plays host to the most fascinating reunion of Pistunzens of all shapes, sizes and ages. They meet at what’s know as the Concours d’Elegance and are to be found in hundreds of different kinds of engines. The main Concours takes place at Pebble Beach, but it’s not the only one: there are lots of others too, all held the same week in Monterey, Laguna Seca and Carmel. They’re in the same general area too and are where my kind meet up with each other. The pistons that have the toughest time are in the historic cars that race at Laguna. It’s a real festival but you should hear the shreiks and groans when the drivers go round the Corkscrew. Well, let’s put it this way: you’d need to be drunk to do it. Pebble Beach is about as elegant as it gets, however. There’s always a group of aristocrats, all nipped and tucked to the nines, strutting around because they’ve special guests. They’ll be good-looking, don’t get me wrong, but they’re no longer in the first flush of youth and their pistons won’t be quite efficient as I am. In fact, I have to say I cut quite a dash myself. I was there with the FF, a nice young car a million miles from the big American idiots with their sixteen-some cylinders. She’s a really powerful beauty with head-turning curves. I have to say I’ve rarely been paid so many compliments in my lifetime. So you can say that you know me, the Californian Pistunzen. Maybe we’ll go there together next year. I do like to travel with my fans…
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When I heard about the ‘Pilotino’ I thought that they finally had noticed that they didn't have to go to Brazil or Spain looking for drivers (and not even to Germany...). I thought that they had finally understood that the real ‘pilotino’, the talented one, is me, Pistunzen. I put on the gloves and when I arrived at the super secret garage where I thought they kept the prototype I should drive, I was really excited. But what a disappointment! I was checked even more than at the airport and once I was inside I couldn't even see a racing car, just mechanics working on disguised cars I couldn't even recognise. They told me ‘pilotino’ is the name of this garage and not mine, because this is the garage where they learn how to build the new models. But at least that calmed me down a little. If they had brought me here where nobody can enter at least it meant that they respected me. But if someone knows Montezemolo please could you tell him to let me try behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car. As a salary I'd be happy with a pint of oil from Shell. For me, Pistunzen, oil is everything.
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The Logistics pavilion was buzzing with activity on Tuesday morning. I called in and found out that they were preparing for the World Design Contest prize-giving ceremony. I didn’t quite understand what that meant but they explained that it’s a sort of competition between the top international car design schools. Serious stuff with young designers coming to Ferrari from all over the world with their designs and models of the Super-Ferraris of the future. There were about 20 scale models on display and I really liked them. Partly because the scale suited me just perfectly. Now all I need is a licence….. I thought about what I would have done if I’d been one of the judges. First and foremost, I’d have failed anyone that even suggested an electric Ferrari. Are you kidding? How could you have a Ferrari without a piston engine? That would mean the end of the line for me and my kind. Let’s be frank: I’ve nothing against electricity but the two of can coexist happily. Electric motors are all very well for city driving, but we pistons really let rip on the road and on the track. What I’m saying is that I am ready to come to a truce of kinds with these hybrids, but nothing more. I liked some of the scale models a bit more than others, of course. The silver one with the enclosed wheels that came third – now that was really strange and really different. It was called the Cavallo Bianco and it was my favourite. It was an entry from a prestigious British school, the Royal College of Arts, and was the work of a Chinese and an English student. What a team! Then there was another one, a kind of bodied single-seater – it’s an American design, done by the CCS of Detroit, if I’m not mistaken. The Koreans won with a blistering supercar they called Eternità. I was also very impressed with a racing spider. It was a bit crazy-looking, like something out of a videogame. The work of some Spanish students from the IED in Barcelona. We all know that they love their motorbikes and their cars over there, and now they’ve proved it. So what about the Brits? They entered some very nice designs - almost all with piston engines, thank goodness. However, the design from the best of the Italian schools, the IED, was actually by a young guy from Azerbaijan! He came second. I wonder what Pininfarina will have to say about that?
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They took me to California (I had a little problem with my visa at the airport due to my smoky fingerprints, but in the end they let me in). Now I'm here in the desert of California with a model for a photo shooting for our Magazine. What a pity that there are also the male model, the make-up artist, the art director, the production secretary, the stylist, the photographer, the photographer's assistant… what a shame... I can't really try to flirt with her. Just imagine: we've got one of those wonderful Airstreams made of aluminium, really american, which should have covered me and the girl from the sun....I hate overcrowded camper vans!
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I’ve just had a truly special experience: a spin in a stunning, brand-new 599 GTO. It looked so good in its white livery with a beautiful blue stripe. I sat beside the test-driver who took the car over the traditional road route that every Ferrari built in Maranello has to complete before being delivered to its owner. We climbed our way up into the hills behind Maranello and then roared down the freeway before taking in a stretch of motorway. I was a little worried I might get car sick because I’m so small I couldn’t see out very well. But the noise that my 12 cousins were making thrilled me to the bone! Next time, I’ll be taking a ride in the 8-cylinders and I’ll bring a cushion along!
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My grandpa Oldpistunzen told me the story of where the Testa Rossa name came from. Read on to find out more…
This isn’t about creativity. It’s more about shrewdness. You might say to yourself “Testa Rossa: what a lovely name? But who thought it up?” Well, cast your minds back to 1957 and the workshop at Maranello. At that time, the engines were almost all the same: the V12s packed by the famous 250s. My grandfather Oldpistunzen used to tell me that our relatives all ended up being fitted in engines for different uses. They used to weigh them all and the lightest – and luckiest – ones were put in the racing ones. But back then, all the engines looked the same from the outside and so to tell the ones for the racing cars apart, they decided to paint the cam covers red. In Italian cam cover is testa and, of course, red is rossa. So very soon, you’d hear people saying “Bring over the engine with the Testa Rossa…” or “Where did you put the engine with the Testa Rossa?” or “Go get the Testa Rossa!” In the end, my forbearers would have said the same thing if you’d asked them. They’d say: “Just call it the Testa Rossa and let that be that”. And so it came to be.
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What cars does Luca di Montezemolo drive? Pistunzen, who’s been watching the man himself and his faithful driver for many years now, reveals all… The Chairman’s office is on the first floor of the small office building overlooking the old courtyard in Ferrari. There’s an outside stairs on the right-hand side of the building and that’s where Montezemolo’s car is always parked. Antonio, his faithful, fast and ever-present driver, always guarantees that it’s as clean and bright as a new pin. I gaze at it enviously: I could polish my little car all day, but it would never, ever gleam and smell like that. I’ve also realised that you can tell what mood the Chairman is in from the car he’s using: the gleaming, glossy black Croma means that he’s in company mode. Strict but there to listen too. And very, very busy. When he’s in the Panda 4x4 – which I haven’t seen for a while now – I always feel his heart is half on holidays. That’s a good day to meet him. But now that the Jeep has taken the Panda’s place, it’s hard for me to pinpoint his mood just by glancing at that rather angular affair. So it’s better to keep my distance a little. What makes me curious – and just adds to my already boundless admiration for the man – is that he always uses quite “normal” cars. He wouldn’t look twice at the black Maserati Quattroporte Felisa sometimes uses and that Todt was so fond of (well, they said it was Todt but you could never be sure because, what with the tinted windows and him being so compact, you could never see him anyway). But the most interesting thing to a curious chap like myself is when they start prepping the Ferraris for him to test drive. You can feel the tension rippling through the entire Technical Direction department. What problems will he find? Well, yes, the really good top guys always find some little thing that’s been overlooked or forgotten. Did you know that Montezemolo sometimes takes the prototypes – still in full camouflage - out for a test-drive himself? That says a lot about the attention he lavishes on his creations, be they already in the world or still at the incubation stage. At times like that, I’d prefer if he’d give me a little bit more attention because, in my own small way, I do my bit to keep the big Maranello machine on the go. Ah well, you can’t have everything in life….
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I’ve spent my entire life around engines (what else would a Pistunzen do?) and I have something serious to say to you. I found myself at the exact spot where Rosberg and Perez had their accidents in the run-up to the race. Road accidents are something I’m very conscious of. It drives me crazy and depresses me deeply to see that so many are the fault of the very people in charge of caring for our roads and streets. All it would take to save lives would be more efficient signals, more legible road signs and, more importantly still, fewer of those iron bollards and other obstacles. Racing has proved to us again and again that accidents can happen for the stupidest of reasons. Monte Carlo is a case in point: there’s a slight hump in the road coming out of the Tunnel where the cars lose grip. Both Niko and Sergio (I know I sound very familiar but I’m really part of that life) took off there and could have been killed. They really could. The moral of the tale? I asked Alonso what could be done and he gave me a rather disconcerting answer: just resurface the road. So you see just how easy it would be to eliminate certain risks!
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I don’t often go to the grands prix but when I do, I’m treated with all the respect due to a fellow of my station. They always give me a pass so that I can nose around wherever I like. That area in the trees where they set up the pits is always absolutely packed with VIPs. It’s a real Kasbah of a place. And, of course, the more VIPs there are, the more photographers and TV cameras there are. You can see them a mile off. But you can imagine how proud I was when I found myself right beside the future Princess of Monaco. What a beauty! Tall too. If I was as tall as she is, I’d be an extra long racing con rod. She even gave me a smile…maybe she thought I was another VIP…of the lesser variety, naturally…
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The Tribute to 1000 Miglia was a fantastic experience. They stuck me on the Boss’s car like I was some sort of sticker. Now he likes his speed and he was driving a fantastic Ferrari, a 250 SWB Competizione. The way it went and the amount it’s worth are enough to make my knees knock! Brave man! He said the first historic 1000 Miglia vehicles were big old trundling clunkers of things: Alfas, Bentleys and Bugattis from the 1930s. Boy, did they look ancient! I won’t tell you what it was like when we found ourselves stuck in the middle of them. The electric pump broke, you see, and it took him an hour to replace it, so we ended up restarting in the early part of the historic race. You’ve no idea how much he had to sweat to get past the first group. Those guys really crawl along, take up the entire road and won’t give an inch. He actually had to cut across a car park to get past the Bentley - a real truck of a thing! Oh dear! We showed them! However, I have to be honest: despite all that, he did very well indeed and finished third in his class and 11th overall.
Who do you think you’re talking to? I know you’ve seen one, but I’m not talking about some kind of oversized toy. I’m talking about a genuine Formula 1 simulator. It’s a monster of a thing that looks like a spaceship moving through space. It makes an incredible noise – even made my con rod vibrate like crazy when I went to see it in action. The driver gets inside and then all the lights are switched out. This platform affair raises up off the ground and stays suspended in the air. And they’re off! The driver does his driving and this thingy – I don’t know what else to call it – moves left and right, up and down, forward and backwards. I can tell you that some of the drivers have actually felt sick when they tried it. Personally, I’m amazed they all don’t! I’ll try to convince the boss around here, Gabriele Delli Colli, to let me have a go. Some Saturday, maybe. Then I’ll tell you all about it (but if I’m sick, I won’t be mentioning it!).
Just between you and me, Ferrari’s Technical Director Roberto Fedeli loves his music. So much so, in fact, that he started up a group called the Red House Blues Band…Get the connection? The problem is that they’re always so busy in Ferrari, they could never find the time to rehearse. But I’ve heard them play and they’re good. I wondered how they managed to rehearse – they’re always in Ferrari, up to their eyes in work. Then I discovered that there’s a kind recording and rehearsal space hidden away in a remote corner of the test area at Ferrari. Great idea. It’s a pity that right now that it’s being used for new machinery and they’ve had to move. I think that’ll show in their playing. But on the plus side, the Ferraris will be better than ever!
I’ve just discovered a fantastic spot in Maranello. It’s like something out of a film. You walk into an old abandoned-looking shed and there you see lift trucks coming and going with various components and parts. Then at the very back you find a locked door: secret access codes – the works. But because I, Pistunzen, have my tricks, I managed to get in. You won’t believe what I found: a huge area housing grey prototypes of models that have never seen the light of day. What is this place? I’ll tell you what: a secret location where they develop the Ferraris of tomorrow. This is where the Ferrari Design Centre staff endeavour to meld their ideas with Pininfarina’s. Fantastic! … We’re going to see some good stuff!