Words: Alessio Viola – Photos: Pietro Masturzo

“Give a child a sheet of paper and some crayons and ask them to draw a car: they will definitely draw it red,” Enzo Ferrari used to say with ill- concealed pride. And if, a few years later, you ask the same child what they want to be when they grow up, you’ll get a brief, straightforward answer: a Ferrari test driver. 

It’s a profession inspired by passion, with strong romantic connotations, but one where talent alone will only take you so far. The ‘X factor’ is essential, but natural abilities also need to be channeled in the right direction, because being a test driver is about more than just driving skillfully: it means understanding the behavior of the car whose wheel is in your hands, of deciphering its subtlest fluctuations, appreciating how and to what extent it can be enhanced.

Supporting the development of the skills and maturity of every Prancing Horse test driver is the Scuola dei Mestieri, a sort of in-house company academy which since 2009 has taken on the task of boosting the technical and professional qualifications of workers and employees with the help of tutors and teachers who are themselves employees. After all, in Ferrari becoming a tester is almost exclusively a question of internal development.

You start your career joining the Quality team: 21 drivers, managed by engineer Alessandro Bianchi, who represent the final filter before cars are delivered to clients. On your first day, as you nudge the Prancing Horse out of the factory gates for final tests, you drive over the infamous manhole that has taxed every Ferrari to ever leave Maranello. It’s a sort of rite of passage, but one that gives the tester crucial inputs about the car – things like noise and body movement – that give a sense of its general behaviour. 

For those who know how to read these first impressions, it’s a mine of information, which together with everything else help the quality tester in their main task: to assess each car. 

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