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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Ferrari’s Benedetto Vigna: ‘We are in a period of technology transition’

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When Benedetto Vigna was 14 years outdated, he sneaked out of the household dwelling in southern Italy and travelled with a pal to Imola to observe the 1983 San Marino Grand Prix — a spherical journey of virtually 1,000 miles. His anxious dad and mom had no thought the place he was and, with out cellphones, it stayed that method till he returned two days later. The race was gained by a Ferrari.

Vigna went on to a stellar profession in expertise with STMicroelectronics, a Geneva producer — throughout which he invented the movement sensor on the coronary heart of the Nintendo Wii console and Apple’s iPhone 4.

But, then, final autumn, the 53-year-old strode into Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters as its new chief govt.

“I am a technologist, but I am an Italian technologist,” he explains. “So, as an Italian, I always had a great passion for racing. This is true all my life. And it’s an honour for me to be at the helm of this company. I always dreamt about it. I never thought I could arrive.

“But I remember, when I was going to school, on my backpack there was a red Ferrari with a yellow driver helmet. Now, as a technologist, I am fascinated [by] all the different kinds of tech­nologies that we deploy in F1 and also how we can deploy these technologies in the road car.”

Ferrari’s fortunes on the monitor are usually not simply cyclical, they’re a rollercoaster. The firm dominated the game with Michael Schumacher 20 years in the past. After that, there have been a number of false dawns and close to misses, which meant that Ferrari’s final F1 world drivers’ championship win was in 2007.

However, this season it’s a contender once more, with a bullet of a automobile designed to F1’s new technical rules. Its lead driver Charles Leclerc is locked in a battle for the world title towards Max Verstappen, Red Bull’s reigning champion.

Vigna’s function, although, is to look forward. He has not been introduced in to assist Ferrari produce or promote its present vary of luxurious vehicles. Last yr, it shipped a file 11,155 fashions and there’s a robust order ebook for 2023. Ferrari shares, since itemizing in New York at $52 in October 2015, have risen fourfold.

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Instead, the Italian was headhunted to make sure Ferrari doesn’t make a mis-step because it adopts the applied sciences that shall be crucial to its future.

The first electrical Ferrari shall be unveiled in 2025. So, whereas it appears that evidently the adage “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” — which automobile producers trot out to justify funding in motorsport — doesn’t apply to Ferrari, Vigna is fast to level out that the hyperlink between F1 and high quality highway vehicles is about greater than advertising,

“A lot of technologies we developed for F1 are transferred to the road cars. So, if you want, the benefit is indirect,” he says. “Today, we have now the broadest and most modern sports activities automobile vary. We additionally leverage loads of the hybrid applied sciences we have now been creating in F1 for 15 years.

Ferrari’s new 296 GTS and 296 GTS Assetto Fiorano sport vehicles © Ferrari by way of REUTERS

“This is why the success of the 296 [the new hybrid convertible Ferrari] is very good. So it’s not a direct consequence but clearly winning in F1 is testament that our technologies are good.

“Competition is part of the game and the differences are very small. So we have to continually fight to optimise our technologies.”

F1 hybrid engines are already among the many most effective motors on the planet, with greater than 50 per cent of the accessible vitality from the gas driving the rear wheels — excess of any highway vehicles.

The subsequent step would be the game-changer in F1’s mission to decarbonise motorsport: the shift in 2026 to 100 per cent sustainable fuels.

It is a transfer that can remodel F1’s relevance and appears set to draw Porsche, Ferrari’s longstanding rival, into the game.

“All of us, all the companies, have an important responsibility in front of the world that we have to respect,” says Vigna. “We are in a period of technology transition. I think that we have to explore all the avenues possible of high efficiency,” he provides.

“Sustainable fuels is a big one that we have to keep in mind — we are pushing on that.”

Vigna is properly conscious of Ferrari’s pedigree. Enzo Ferrari, the corporate’s founder, who died aged 90 in 1988, was a racing driver and crew proprietor earlier than he constructed his first highway automobile. Under Vigna, the race crew seems to be properly aligned with the highway automobile enterprise.

Another custom that started with Enzo continues to this present day. “Here, in Maranello, when we win on Sunday the local church rings the bell and all the people come out of their homes,” Vigna says.

“And I can tell you that, on Monday morning, when you’re in the office, if you win the race, you can smell and taste the sense of pride of all the people. It means a lot. Competition is part of the DNA of this company.”

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