The Pista di Fiorano is the heartbeat of Ferrari and comes to the Ferrari Essentials Pack for Project CARS 2
(Note on the Pista di Fiorano in Project CARS 2): The Pista di Fiorano will only appear on your track list if you have a Ferrari car selected, and “identical” (or zero) opponents. It will then appear on the list under P (not F), because it’s named Pista di Fiorano.)
You take Via Tazio Nuvolari toward the municipality of Fiorano pushed up on the boundary of Maranello, a bucolic, rural landscape in the foothills of Modena that is often spared from the blight of the dampening fog of winter; stroll past the statue of Gilles Villeneuve erected in 1982, amble through the entry gates, and suddenly you have arrived: Before you lies a once-secret, open-air laboratory that spreads itself out in a snaking, crisp thread of tarmac that winds its way up and down through the gentle scenery in a sequence of irregular turns and straights all held together by the fabric of Ferrari folklore.
La Pista di Fiorano.
Up ahead by the pits squats the inimitable whitewashed farmhouse with its red front-door and red timber shutters; in that very building is “Il Drake’s” office with the famed yellow tiles on one wall emblazoned by the Cavallino Rampante and, behind the desk, the small monochrome TV-set on which Enzo would watch his beloved red cars race around the world—all of it just as it was the day Enzo Ferrari stepped out for the very last time.
That’s the building Michael Schumacher called home back in the day, too, turning the top floor into his private gym and where, out front, he would play football with the mechanics in the dying embers of days that had been pierced by the rattle-and-scream of Ferrari’s latest racing machine that’d been entranced by his furious hands.
Schumacher has a piazza named after him here, in honor of those five consecutive titles (he also remains the fastest man ever around this circuit at Fiorano, and the only one to get under 56 seconds); from here, you can gaze across at the pastoral stone barns with their blood red doors—old stables that were once used by Ferrari as garages back in the late-’60s and now serve as high-tech conference rooms.
Further on, you can just see the tail of the F104 fighter jet of the 51st Squadron from the Italian Airforce, the very jet that lost a race against Gilles Villeneuve in a wingless turbo F1 car back in 1981.
Around you, the flowing tight confines of the Pista di Fiorano are constant reminders that you are in Ferrari’s backyard: this is hallowed ground, consumed by the history of the Scuderia. There, at the exit of the infamous Turn 7, is where Enzo would sit in the late afternoon sun, assessing his drivers’ commitment from behind those inscrutable dark glasses as they hustled through that fearsome bend; there in the pits is where Lauda, Forghieri, Montezemolo and Ferrari, with his shirt-sleeves rolled up for business, would pour over telemetry on cold February mornings with the spectral mist still clinging to the tarmac; there in the gaps between the fence is where 40,000 fans had once turned up a hot day in the late summer of 1982 to watch Mario Andretti shakedown the Ferrari 126C2 V6 turbo in that turgid year that had seen Gilles, and then Didier Pironi, fall to their unkind fates; there they stood to cheer Mario on when, after lunch and a glass of wine with “Il Commendatore”, he would smash the track record for no other reason than to give hope to the tifosi who had suffered so much—a lap record to make them dream of brighter tomorrows.
The Pista di Fiorano exudes the history of Ferrari in a way that only a racing track can; in those turns live the ghosts of so many of Ferrari’s greatest racing aces—head-down in the foggy mornings of winter and sweating in the endless summer afternoons—moments of anguish and ecstasy all forever and indelibly carved into the very fabric of Fiorano.
The F1 cars may no longer test here, but Fiorano remains an essential piece to all that Ferrari symbolizes because it is here that every single thoroughbred from Ferrari comes to be tamed.
And that track is coming to the Ferrari Essentials Pack for Project CARS 2.
La Pista di Fiorano
“Every single part of the track must test the dynamic behavior of the car in such a way that it becomes easy to identify the problems of every car. From this moment on, I don’t want any Ferrari on-track or mass-produced without passing the Fiorano test with flying colors.” That was how Enzo described the role of Fiorano.
Enzo was an enigmatic man, difficult to read at the best of times. This was never more evident than in ’69 when his beloved race team was suffering one of the darkest chapters in its history; a crisis of both confidence and cash.
In sportscars, where once Ferrari had dominated, Ford, and then Porsche, had consigned the Scuderia to also-rans, while in F1, the last championship title was back in ’64 as the “garagistes” from England continued to revolutionize the sport with their new-found aerodynamic primacy.
To catch up, Ferrari needed the real fuel that powers motorsport—cash. He’d already rebuffed Ford’s interest in acquiring the Scuderia in the mid-’60s, but that negotiation that had ended in so much acrimony, was also a blessing, because when news spread that Ferrari—that most Italian of Italian companies—could somehow become an American entity, pressure on Ferrari’s other suitors (FIAT) mounted significantly.
It all played out to a finish in 1969 when FIAT finally acquired a 50 percent stake of Ferrari.
Overnight, Ferrari was back in the business of winning. Suddenly cash-flush, Ferrari set to work immediately by extending the factory in Maranello, embarking on construction of a new Le Mans-runner (the Ferrari 512 S that you’ll find in the “Spirit of Le Mans” Pack), and throwing much-needed cash at his F1 program that FIAT themselves targeted as essential for Ferrari’s growth as a brand.
Back then, Ferrari was having to make-do with using the local airport at Modena for testing, along with the rest of the racing and car firms scattered around what is the automotive heartland of Italy. The airstrip—a regional aerodrome—had already been in use since the late-’50s (the test-track had claimed one of Italy’s rising stars Eugenio Castellotti back then) and it doubled as an airport, a race track, a test-track, and even the headquarters of Piero Taruffi’s now-legendary racing school, the Scuderia Centro Sud.
But with creeping urbanization, and more and more automakers using the facility, Ferrari, by 1970, could no longer afford to have part-time use of a test-track. If they wanted to get back in the game of winning in F1, what they needed, most of all, was their own dedicated testing facility, and in 1971, the final piece of the jigsaw that would return Ferrari to winning ways was built: a state-of-the-art test-track right up the road from the factory in Maranello.
The setting was ideal; down in the Modena foothills, on two plots of land where the rustic beauty of Enzo’s native land would serve to contrast the high-tech’ nature of testing—a harmony between the mechanical and the natural that Enzo believed would be psychologically beneficial for his drivers, beauty adding respite to the hard days spent on the limit—would become home to Ferrari’s very own test-track.
In seven short months, la Pista di Fiorano was built and first saw action in early 1972.
In planning the circuit, Enzo has spared neither money nor resources; this was to be the most high-tech test-track built by any team in the world at the time. The length was exactly 3,000m, with 14 distinct turns, many modelled and shaped to echo turns from grand prix tracks throughout Europe.
To fit these turns and long straights on the two small plots of land, the track was built using a figure of eight. Each turn was to present car and driver with particular questions, and designed to make obvious any issues with handling, braking, traction, acceleration—and, of course, a driver’s commitment.
Telemetry was gathered from every turn and fed back to a central control room where mechanics and engineers could see every single inch of the track live-fed from ten TV cameras set at various points of the track.
There were no grandstands, but that didn’t stop tifosi from finding gaps in the fencing from which to watch lone Ferrari cars racing the clock; legendary drivers such as Villeneuve, Andretti, Lauda, Schumacher, Mansell, Alesi, and Prost. Back before the days of the internet, fans would sit and time the new Ferrari F1s in February during pre-season testing; by the time the first race rolled around, those times would have circulated the world and Ferrari fans would already know whether this was a year their beloved reds would mount a challenge.
The Challenge of Perfection
Fiorano, today, is almost identical to the layout constructed back in 1972; almost, because it is now 21 metres longer courtesy of a chicane that was built in 1992.
The width of the track is astoundingly narrow, simulating a road-course and even country roads; this was deliberate as its size is designed to test a car’s performance across a whole range of difficulties. Turns featuring varying radii from as little as 14m to as much as 370m are aligned with left and right bends that come one-after-another to test the engine’s pull on the exits while exact-same radius turns are ideal benchmarks to verify a chassis’ agility, as well as fuel systems under extreme G-force conditions.
There are numerous sections on this track that will test both driver and car to the maximum. The challenge begins at Turn 1 that has been modelled in such a way as to guarantee that the car will get unstable under brakes. Coming into here on the limit, if the car is stable under brakes, you can be sure it will be stable pretty much everywhere else. Indeed, there are two big braking areas at Fiorano where, in F1 cars, you’ll go from 290kmh down to first or second gear in a hurry.
Turns 6 and 7 are without doubt the most mythical bends, with an ascent of over 6 degrees into Turn 6 alone before you head into the very real test of driver and machine through the terrifyingly quick Turn 7.
Turns 10 to 14, meanwhile, will test the car’s aerodynamics and you’re going to learn to have a lot of faith in the black arts of magic that invisibly stick the car to the tarmac—here, the car is either aerodynamically sound or it will get caught out.
In 2001, the track was further improved with an irrigation system that uses water collected from cisterns to wet the track in minutes; the crown, meanwhile, is specifically designed to get the water to run off the track surface and back into the cisterns.
You won’t hear F1 cars here anymore—which is a blessing, because even Ferrari is not immune to complaints about noisy neighbors—but every single Ferrari road-car is developed at Fiorano, not to mention track-only cars such as the FXX K you’ll find in the Ferrari Essentials Pack. For the record, the fastest-ever lap, and one likely to never be bettered, is Michael Schumacher’s 0’55.999 in the 2004 Ferrari F2004. The fastest non-F1 is the Ferrari 333 SP, in a time of 1’11.90, while the fastest road-car remains the Ferrari LaFerrari, in a 1’19.70.
What Ferrari will you drive at Fiorano?
The Project CARS 2 Season Pass offers all four DLCs plus the Motorsport Bonus Pack, all at a discounted price.
The Ferrari Essentials Pack is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and (PC Steam).
*The Pista di Fiorano is a Ferrari-only track, both in real-life and, of course, in Project CARS 2.