Cars

<em>Photo: Amy Shore</em>

Seb and Charles on the Monza SP2

In Maranello for a recent team meeting, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc had some time for a ‘test drive' of the new Ferrari Monza SP2. This is what they thought…

For Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc life isn’t all-work-and-no-play. In May the two Scuderia Ferrari piloti were at Maranello for a meeting with Team Principal Mattia Binotto and the team’s engineers. When their official business was finished the two drivers chanced upon a brand new Ferrari Monza SP2 and asked if they could take the car for a spin. Getting up front and personal with a Monza SP2, with its magnetic appeal, isn’t something that happens every day. The Monza SP1 and SP2 are the very first models in an extremely limited series - only 499 will be built - baptised Icona and inspired by the most important and iconic moments of Ferrari history.

The car that Vettel and Leclerc got to drive was an extraordinary example, a brand new SP2 ‘dressed’ in a livery celebrating the 290 MM driven by Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1956 Mille Miglia. The two piloti took the Monza along the undulating roads snaking their way through the rolling countryside around Maranello. The atmosphere was relaxed and humorous. When the drivers stopped for some photographs and to swap seats we snatched the opportunity for a quick chat about what racing for the Scuderia, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, means to them.

Vettel and Leclerc took 'their' Monza SP2 for a drive in the countryside around Maranello  <em>Photo: Amy Shore</em>
Vettel and Leclerc took 'their' Monza SP2 for a drive in the countryside around Maranello Photo: Amy Shore

I think that part of what makes driving for Ferrari so special is knowing you are one part in this incredible story,” says Vettel, who is in his fifth year with the Scuderia’s Formula 1 team. “When you put on an overall with the Prancing Horse on its breast, you know you are more than just a driver, you are an ambassador for the brand and that makes you even prouder still.”

Leclerc, a Ferrari Driver Academy graduate whose title win in Formula 2 in his maiden season in 2017 was followed by an extraordinarily powerful debut in Formula 1 in 2018 that earned him the second seat in the SF90 – couldn’t agree more: “My adventure with the Scuderia has only just begun,” he says. “But from day one, I realised it was a genuinely unique team with an unparalleled history. It’s hard not to get a shiver down your spine when you get behind the wheel of a Ferrari.” Leclerc also explained how his personal life has been affected since he joined the Scuderia: “People stop me in the street now to congratulate me and I have to say it’s really great.”

This paricular Monza's livery fetes the 290 MM fielded by Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1956 Mille Miglia  <em>Photo: Amy Shore</em>
This paricular Monza's livery fetes the 290 MM fielded by Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1956 Mille Miglia Photo: Amy Shore

Vettel is a huge fan of the marque’s history and well versed in all the facts and figures. He is impressed with how Enzo’s passion and inspiration “are qualities which are still alive in Ferrari today with the great pride, care and attention with which cars – road cars and our F1 cars – are built. There is a unique, emotional connection with Ferrari, whether you work in the factory, are a Ferrari owner, or a driver for the Scuderia, where one is always aware of the responsibility that comes with being associated with the Prancing Horse. It is a responsibility I am privileged to have.”

Back at the Gestione Sportiva, Leclerc shares his impressions of the Monza SP2. “Getting into this Ferrari is a bit like diving into the past: it’s extreme, uncompromising, but bursting with technologies which, as is so often the case, were tested in competition. I don’t think anyone can match Ferrari in terms of the huge technological transfer from its racing cars to its road cars.” The car’s design also sets it apart. Designed by Maranello’s in-house Centro Stile, the Monza SP2  - boasting incredibly pure and elegantly minimalist forms that started out as little more than a single pencil stroke - stops time by uniting tradition and cutting-edge technology in the name of Ferrari, just as the Scuderia’s Formula 1 drivers do when they mix speed with genius in the Prancing Horse’s name.

Ferrari