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.