‘From zero to 100? Maybe I'm quicker myself, but my speed evaporates immediately, while a Ferrari never stops…’ Mariano Rivera is a living legend of baseball, one of the greatest players of all time, famed for his “cutter” delivery, which reached speeds of 145km/h.
The Panamanian pitcher, now resident in New York, was at Maranello to customise his new 812 Superfast and took the chance to visit the factory: ‘I didn't really imagine it like this. Of course, I knew it wouldn't be like anywhere else, but the mixture of hi-tech and craftsmanship that you see here is something unique.
‘Also visiting the production lines, seeing the people working there, you realise that Ferrari is a great team, animated by passion and dedication. During this visit I grasped why only this place gives birth to such special cars.’
Rivera started to play baseball in Panama from where his great desire and determination won him a place in the youth team of the New York Yankees, the club he stayed with throughout his career.
‘I think it's about passion, determination and dedication. These are the same values that I see in Ferrari. I know that Enzo was not from a particularly wealthy family, but look at what he managed to achieve… To go far you need a healthy restlessness and the blessing of the Lord. It all starts with a vision, which moves inside you and becomes increasingly clear.
‘It turns into your goal, into your powerful idea and passion. Determination and dedication are the weapons you need to make sure that the vision is increasingly realised. You must never stop applying yourself to achieve your goals because nothing comes without effort and sacrifice, and nothing is devoid of obstacles.
'They don't count. What counts is the approach with which you tackle them. You have to make things happen.’
After the factory tour Rivera was invited on track, where he drove a 488 Spider: ‘What an incredible experience! I drive my Ferrari California in a sporty and aggressive style, but I really respect the rules of the road because you don't mess around there. Here for the first time I had a track available.
‘Initially I was the passenger beside the instructor but then they gave me the wheel and I really enjoyed it. Being able to turn and push the accelerator pedal without fear gave me an amazing rush of adrenaline. I almost felt like I was back on the field…’
The star of the diamond, who also had a close-up view of the cars of F1 Clienti and the splendid FXX K, then went to the Atelier department where he customised the 812 Superfast. ‘I had a great time. The people who work in the Atelier department are able to transform your feelings into concrete elements, prestigious materials, unusual colours, and special trimmings.
'They help you get the car you really want. It's almost like watching its birth.’
Rivera has no clear ideas about his first trip in his new Ferrari: ‘I don't know where I will take it the first time I get behind the wheel. There are many places outside New York where it would be lovely to drive…
‘But I imagine this scene: I call my wife, I open the door and we head off. We leave the kids at home and go on our travels, no matter where. It will be me, her and the music of the 812 Superfast, the roar of its engine. I can't wait to drive it…’