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Factory visit & Mugello driving course

Discussion in 'Ferrari Discussion (not model specific)' started by ze_shark, Nov 15, 2003.

  1. ze_shark

    ze_shark Formula 3

    Jul 13, 2003
    1,270
    Switzerland (NW)
    Spent 3 days in Ferrariland this week, factory visit then Corso Pilotta in Mugello. For those interested, read on ...

    I visited the factory on Monday. Although it was educative to see the cars and engine assembly lines, it won't leave with an unforgettable memory, and did not impress me too much from an industrial standpoint.
    The visit consists of a tour of the 3 assy lines (Enzo, V8s and V12+V8), a walk through the leather/interior parts shop and a short loop in the final assembly stages of the engine lines.
    I saw lots of Modena CS, a few standard Modenas (among which a white spider, yikes), 5 Enzos at various assembly stages, a couple of 575s and several 612s (the batch which will be used for the Detroit launch).
    My lukewarm opinion results from the following:
    - the logistics set-up makes little industrial sense, parts (engines, bodies, internal parts) come in and flow from illogical directions, something that can probably be afforded when the lines have a 30 minutes cycle time, but which would make a high volume manufacturing engineer yawn at best, and at worst laugh (or cry)
    - Ferrari is a low volume manufacturer, but there is not either this feeling of fine craftmanship, I did not have the impression to see experts or men of art at work. Actually Ferrari has a policy of using almost only junior mechanics for engine assembly, once they are trained they can go get a job anywhere they want (and I guess that Ferrari saves on salaries ?).
    - design for manufacturability does not seem to be a core skill, when you see the mechanics struggling to mount a radiator on a Modena or assemble some parts of the dash on an Enzo, it just looks clumsy.

    A couple of interesting facts:
    - all engines are run on a test bench, 3 hours for V8s, 5 hours for V12s and 6 hours for the Enzo.
    - all cars go through a 100-120km quality check road test (I assume that's what the odometer shows when delivered)
    ... so altogether the engine has a bit of run-in, but certainly not a full factory run-in as some assume.

    The visit does not go through the other parts of the factory, so what you see is mainly (only) final assembly stages.

    Onto the Mugello Corso Pilotta. In a nutshell, a good & useful experience, but value for money remains questionnable. More to be seen as an investment towards the advanced course. The goal is not to get you to drive faster, but rather to get you to drive cleaner, a good basis. The advanced course is focused on full telemetry records analysis (gear, steering angle, gas, brake, lateral acceleration), that must be where getting faster becomes the objective.
    The course starts with 3 laps on the first half of the track with an instructor who checks what your basic driving skills are. A short theory intro follows, then groups are formed (4x6 persons=24, grouped mainly by spoken language) and training program starts. There are 4 types of exercizes:
    - brake an avoid obstacle on wet surface with & without ABS (on 360 manuals)
    - cornering power oversteer control on wet surface on Alfa SZ3.0, then same with 360 manuals
    - donut power oversteer control on wet surface on Alfa SZ3.0
    - driving on the upper then lower then full circuit, with 360 manuals, F1s, & 575 F1, either with an instructor in the car or following the instructor (they have Alfa GTV3.0 coupes with slick tires)

    Although driving on the track is certainly the most interesting part, the power oversteer exercizes are fun and teach you a lesson of humility on the difficulty to control snappy (even if provoked) oversteer, furthermore controlling it to make several circular donuts in a row.
    Mugello is a beautiful track, I had had the chance to do a bike track day on it before, but too long and too fast for a driving course, so they slow it down by adding chicanes in 4 locations to prevent high speed cornering. Fastest corner is in 4th, all others are in 3rd. The course director, Andrea de Amichi, was complaining that, if it was left to him, the beginner course would take place as well in Fiorano, a shorter track, but il presidente (di Montezemolo) had decided that the beginner course would take place at Mugello.

    The instructors were very knowledgeable, friendly (as far as I can tell from the two i worked with) and competent. There is a genuine intent to get you to drive clean and get rid of the most obvious mistakes you do. All your drives are taped with inboard video cameras, useful to see afterwards what's wrong in your driving, and a nice souvenir too (if you notice that the VHS tape is too short, keeps being rewinded and erasing older stuff until you change the 2nd day to a bigger one ...).

    My main criticism would certainly be that the number of 'advertised cars' (10, 6 360's and 4 575's) was not there. We started off with 8 cars (only 2 575s instead of 4) and ended the course with 6 or 7 total. Mathematically, if there are 30 or 40% less cars, you get to do 30 or 40% less driving, and make up by waiting. All track sessions as a result were series of 2 or mostly (and max) 3 laps, really not much to get back into the rythm and adjust to the car (switching from a 575 to a 360 is, well, quite different, same thing between a F1 vs a manual box). Alright, last course of the season, some cars may have bailed out, but you are still paying the full 5000€ (plus taxes), and for that kind of price, you would expect at least a word of apology if you are not getting the full thing. This is maybe another instance where, in spite of our passion for these cars, we should never forget that we are customers and thus entitled to value for money and quality of service.
     
  2. tvrfreak

    tvrfreak F1 Rookie
    BANNED

    Mar 31, 2003
    3,879
    Arkansas
    Full Name:
    F K
    Superb writeup. Thanks for sharing. I had signed up for the pilota Ferrari course a few years ago, but ended up not going because I felt I could get better value elsewhere. The exercises as described do appear to be well thought out, instructive, and fun.

    Thanks for the inspiration. I am off to the local parking lot for some TVR oversteer fun!
     
  3. Brian C. Stradale

    Brian C. Stradale F1 Rookie
    Lifetime Rossa

    Mar 17, 2002
    3,603
    Dallas, TX, USA
    Thanks for the write-up! I've been debating taking the Pilota courses for some time... mainly because I want to drive Mugello and, even more so, Fiorano. After your review, I'm less interested in the Mugello course... given they don't really let you drive Mugello. But as you said, its an investment in getting to drive the advanced course at Fiorano.

    But for 10 large to take those two courses just for the privilege of driving a 360 on Fiorano... that' mighty steep! I need some great instruction to justify that price tag!

    Other reviews have indicated that the Advanced course is primarily more of the same as the first course, just at Fiorano.


    Shark,

    Two- and three-lap track sessions? You can't even get warmed up before you're cooling down!

    How many such track sessions do you get?

    (Drivers' Education is typically 25-minute sessions (12-18 laps) and you typically get 4-5 of those a day, and two days of that for $250.)

    Does each driver rotate among each of the cars? Or could you spend more of your time in your "preferred" cars?

    How many students were there? How many instructors? How did they deal with students at different levels of skill?

    Thanks again for the info,

    Brian
     
  4. ze_shark

    ze_shark Formula 3

    Jul 13, 2003
    1,270
    Switzerland (NW)
    Hi Brian,
    I would not go there to 'drive the Mugello', the most interesting parts such as the downhill/uphill right-left-right-right and the high speed left-right before the last turn are slowed down by chicanes. You get a taste of the track, but not the full flavour.

    Yes, we were not allowed at any single time to do more than 3 laps in a row, and in most cases that was either the upper half, or the lower half, partly because "it's a long track to learn" (more than 5kms), partly because full laps were just too long a wait for the others. I did not count how many 3-lap drives I did over the two days, but it's clearly not like you're begging them to leave you alone because you're fed up driving.
    Again, 8 then 6 cars instead of 10 means 20 then 40% less driving for you, maybe a 'normal' course was set-up for 5-laps runs.

    You don't get to chose which car you run, but you run in all cars (360-manual, 360-F1, 575-F1). Of course, there is a lot more 360 driving than 575 due to the number of cars available.

    There were 24 students, split in 4 groups of 6, with 2 instructors per group. The guys are really good, committed to teaching and friendly. One of the two instructors I had co-won the 360 italian challenge championship for 3 years in a row, to give you an idea.

    Although they were taking notes on our skills, I think that spoken language was the primary criterion for grouping us. Does not make much difference anyway, since in the end the skills of your comrades do not affect what you get to do behind the wheel of the quality of teaching.

    The instructors will take you as far as they can take you within the safety limits they defined for the course. You will not race with anyone, you will not overtake anyone unless it is pre-arranged by radio.

    If you are looking for value for money, there are certainly much better deals out there, moreover if you have to travel from the US (it was a 5 hours drive for me).

    Oh by the way, for those like me who hesitated to drive their prancing horse down there, pure waste. I am glad I decided to drive down in my Audi. A dude from the UK took his F40 down, a 3000km return trip for 30 minutes on the track at the end of the 2nd day ...
    Now don't get me wrong: if I forget about the invoice amount, I HAD FUN.

    Anybody here has done the Fiorano course recently ?
    Based on the explanations de Amichi gave me, it's all about telemetry. The only race you do is against the clock. Still, having instructors analyzing your telemtry records is a very effective way to face your shortcomings and improve.
     
  5. Owens84QV

    Owens84QV F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 2, 2001
    4,474
    Somewhere in NC
    Full Name:
    Greg
    ze_shark...thanks for the info on the factory. I'll be there in Oct/2004 but only for the factory tour and walk-about in Maranello.

    Great info...
     
  6. ze_shark

    ze_shark Formula 3

    Jul 13, 2003
    1,270
    Switzerland (NW)
    You are welcome. The Galleria being what it is, I'd suggest planning to spend more time in Bologna or Florence ;-)
     
  7. ze_shark

    ze_shark Formula 3

    Jul 13, 2003
    1,270
    Switzerland (NW)
    I started posting some short video clips I took there, the first one taken with my DSC is here:
    http://www.ferrariforum.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=14423#14423
    If I ever get the time, I'll digitalize and post the in-board videos.

    Not me behind the wheel (I'm behind the cam), but I did not do much better ...
     
  8. Brian C. Stradale

    Brian C. Stradale F1 Rookie
    Lifetime Rossa

    Mar 17, 2002
    3,603
    Dallas, TX, USA
  9. ze_shark

    ze_shark Formula 3

    Jul 13, 2003
    1,270
    Switzerland (NW)
    The 200KB limit on fchat does not take you very far with video files ...
    Ferrariforum.net allows up to 20MB ...
    Not too sure when I'll have the time to do my homework, but I'll keep working on it.
     

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