Silverstone, the home of British Motorsport, and scene of countless Formula One battles, including the great Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari F2002 and the rest of the 2002 British Grand Prix grid, each with a screaming 3.0-litre V10.
If you dream of reliving this era (arguably the best sounding in Formula One’s history) a visit to the Ferrari Racing Days event is what you need in your life.
Silverstone again played host to this year’s event, offering an opportunity for the wealthy hedge fund managers and business types to showcase their latest purchases to the adoring Ferrari fans, all under the more-than-watchful eyes of Maranello’s management.
It’s 6:30am on an uncharacteristically warm Saturday morning in September when I make my arrival, beating any crowd to the track in a rear-wheel drive, perfectly balanced convertible with a Record Monza exhaust burbling away behind me.
No, it’s not a Ferrari, but an Abarth 124 Spider – part of the Fiat stable of brands and featuring at the event for hot laps around Silverstone’s Stowe Complex.
“We park up next to a Tour de France Blue 550 Maranello and Rosso Nero 275 GTB. Good company to keep, and this is just the car park!”
For those that have been to this British motorsport mecca before, you’ll have noticed the relatively new ‘Wing’ section, home to the Formula One pits on their annual visit and little else, with the majority of the club racing events based out of the National Pits complex further around the track.
Ferrari Racing Days is one of the only events outside of the Grand Prix though that uses the Wing, providing a central hub for all the action; particularly prominent this year was Ferrari’s 70th anniversary celebrations.
Driving through the track’s various inner access roads is a surreal experience as there’s so much heritage and history in the air. Burbling along alfresco in the Spider past those that have opted to walk, I can see many heads turning as the Abarth is still a rare sight on UK roads – particularly in the Turini 1975 White and contrasting matt black colour scheme.
The Ferrari Owners Club have already started to gather towards the entrance, with members bringing out their various beloved toys for the promise of a 300-car display. As we continue around to the Wing, we park up next to a Tour de France Blue 550 Maranello and Rosso Nero 275 GTB. Good company to keep, and this is just the car park!
Few brands evoke the same emotions as the Prancing Horse. Walking through the open paddock you got a real sense of pride from the engineers and mechanics that come as part of the Corse Clienti programme running alongside the Racing Days.
Should you ever be in the position where you are invited to purchase one of the eligible cars, you will be allocated an ex-F1 pit crew to maintain and fettle your track toy, with storage in their Maranello factory thrown in for the tidy sum of €3.5 million.
These guys are tried and tested, having worked with Scuderia legends such as Niki Lauda and Kimi Raikkonen, they now share their expertise with the new owners of these incredible cars, ensuring they are perfectly set up for each driver and each track.
Walking passed a display of the new Ferrari 812 Superfast, LaFerrari Aperta and 488 Challenge, I find myself in one of the several garages filled with Ferrari-branded mechanics, and I can honestly say that the sight that greeted me was possibly the greatest I’d ever seen in my entire life.
A horde of Ferrari FXX-Ks – each costing a cool €3.7 million – sit patiently awaiting their turn on the track, each one in their driver’s bespoke livery, and each one looking just as menacing as their stats suggested. A 6.3-litre naturally aspirated, F1-derived V12 with an additional electric motor and KERS technology delivering a total of 1036bhp.
“This one garage housed over €100 million worth of Ferraris”
Seeing one of these incredible cars is rare enough yet here lay 13 examples! And that wasn’t all. The same garage houses three of the original FXX Enzo race cars and 11 599XXs. This one garage housed over €100 million worth of Ferraris, and I hadn’t even got to the Formula One cars yet.
Having had my fill of FXX-K cars (debuting for the first time in the UK) I continued to wander the paddock and into the F1 Clienti Garage; this is where the emotion came flooding back.
Before the turbocharged ‘power units’ in the current crop of Formula One cars, motorsport’s pinnacle had howling engines that could be heard for miles around, even over Murray Walker’s iconic commentary. In front of me were six of these cars, each one being fired up, and heading out on to track.
The noise! Even at idle it was deafeningly loud but, when these majestic single seaters hit the straight, they were on another level. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can compete with a V10 F1 car at full chat on the National Pit straight, clearing 180mph before the gearbox drops the cogs for a sweeping right hander and blasting off again in an explosive split second.
This is F1 at its finest, and the only place on earth that you’d see the most successful Scuderia creations in history back out on track and being driven as they were intended.
It’s hugely humbling to see such iconic cars back in action at an event like this, joined by the current 488s and the mind-blowing FXX-K. It’s testament to Ferrari’s appeal that Racing Days pulls in tens of thousands of fans, some having flown in specially for this incredible event.
With a break in proceedings, and having taken in a lot of the track action, I turn my attention to the Pirelli presence and the custom tyres required for the Challenge Series.
“Wandering the open paddock really gives you a sense of what Ferrari ownership is about”
Heading into its fifth round of the 2017 season, no one has yet sealed the 2017 Ferrari Challenge title and, while there are clear favourites in some of the classes, in others the fight is still wide open. The series is for custom 458 Italia and 488 GTBs, each one with their own specific set up, providing some intense wheel-to-wheel action throughout the field.
A mixture of ‘gentleman drivers’ and semi-pros, the Challenge Series travels across Europe, with Pirelli providing the technical know-how from their involvement with Formula One.
Wandering the open paddock really gives you a sense of what Ferrari ownership is about. They may not be the best cars in their category, or the cheapest, but they have heart and this means more to their customers than technical ability.
Sure, McLaren are technically more polished, and Lamborghini’s may handle with more poise, but Ferrari is an extended family and the Racing Days event is more notable of that than anything else.