What does it feel like to own and drive Michael Schumacher's 2003 championship-winning F1 car?
As prospects go, things don’t get much more delicious than this. The view ahead is the start-finish straight at Mugello, Ferrari’s race track in the Tuscan hills. Actually, the view is even better than that: looking over the nose of a Ferrari Formula 1 car. But perhaps the dreamiest bit of all is the seat in which you’re sitting – the very same one that carried Michael Schumacher to victory in the 2003 F1 season.
This is no dream but a scarcely imaginable reality for Brian Kaminskey, one of a handful of people who have the privilege to own a classic Ferrari F1 car through Maranello’s unique F1 Clienti programme. “It’s truly a dream come true to be sitting here,” says Brian, “and to be behind the wheel of this car is somewhat surreal. It’s truly an honour and a privilege to sit in the legend’s seat – the greatest whoever lived.”
For Brian, it’s a family affair. “I grew up with Schumacher and now my son is a big fan of Charles Leclerc – it’s an on-going thing. The closest I got to this as a kid was TV or a poster on the wall. For me and my family, to have this car is somewhat surreal.” But real it certainly is. So how does it feel to drive Schumacher’s car at Mugello? “I’ve been looking for the words to describe the feeling ever since the first time I took it down the back straight,” smiles Brian.
“The best way to describe it is, a jet with wheels. The acceleration is amazing, the g-forces, the downforce, the grip – everything about it is amazing. I feel very connected to this car. Coming down to turn one at speed, and going from seventh gear to second within milliseconds is the high right now.”
How on earth do you get to experience this? Well, Ferrari’s F1 Clienti programme allows a small group of people to own a genuine classic Ferrari Formula 1 car. Many of these are highly historic machines, originally driven by the likes of Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen, and are cosseted in a special section of Scuderia Ferrari’s headquarters at Maranello.
Ferrari Corse Clienti gives owners the chance to drive their F1 cars at some of the world’s most iconic tracks in the USA, Europe and Asia. The aim is to make you feel like a true Scuderia Ferrari driver. You don’t have to worry about anything except turning up, putting on your helmet and having fun, since Corse Clienti looks after everything else.
That includes all maintenance, preparation and set-up, as Brian attests: “The car is handled by the guys that originally built it and maintained it, including some members of the original Schumacher team. You feel when you’re behind the wheel of the car that you’re truly in the best hands.” The same level of service also applies to the experience behind the wheel, says Brian: “Ferrari does an amazing job of training you how to drive the car, with some of the best instructors in the world. It’s amazing that I can take this car on the track in the way that I do. It’s a testament to what Ferrari does: I mean, you’re driving the most limited cars in the world, on the most iconic tracks in the world, with the best instructors in the world…
They really make you feel like family – and it is a family. It’s truly an honour to be a part of it.” So how does it feel to make a dream real? Brian tells us: “Just sitting in the car and having that moment – hey, I’m sitting in Michael Schumacher’s championship car… is somewhat surreal and hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s truly a dream come true.”