“We’ve seen an increase in sales of kids’ items, so it seems like people want to outfit their kids to take them to the track.”
It’s perhaps just a little too early to say for sure that the days of Ferrari’s dominance – when Michael Schumacher won five world titles in a row between 2000 and 2004 – are back, but given the evidence from the first two races of the season, Ferrari fans have every reason to hope they do.
The team has worked hard in the off-season to bring its car into line with 2022 F1 regulations, and its engine is now widely regarded as the best on the grid.
Charles Leclerc and Sainz, his two riders, got off to a flying start, with Leclerc winning in Bahrain and finishing second in Jeddah, and his Spanish teammate finishing second and third in the first two races.
That puts Leclerc atop the drivers’ standings and Ferrari top of the constructors’ title heading into round three of the championship in Melbourne.
Sainz says new regulations that have forced all teams to redesign their cars have helped Ferrari’s dramatic restart.
“It’s been a tough few years for Ferrari, but we’ve used them to rebuild the team, the internal side of things, to make ourselves stronger and to be better at what we do,” he said. “We used the regulatory changes, having to start from scratch and a clean sheet of paper, to use this improvement in the way we work to put it into practice and suddenly be back on top.”
Gerace believes the extra hype for the Italian team this year has been boosted by pent-up demand and frustration from fans starving to see F1 in that country over the past two years.
“They haven’t had that kind of a start in a while, so it’s really exciting after missing the last two races.”
It’s been a long time since Ferrari has been at the forefront of the sport. The last time Ferrari had a world champion was in 2007, when Kimi Raikkonen won the title, and the last time the prancing horses danced in Melbourne was in 2018, when Sebastian Vettel won the checkered flag.
Both Scibberas and Simon Hardwidge, the Ferrari club president, own Ferrari road cars and it was the passion and emotion of the brand, its history and its longevity that stirred their souls.
“I’m building my own Ferrari museum. I bought an old historic warehouse and am in the process of doing a complete remodel,” says Hardwidge. “I’ve raced in every GP since the mid-1980s, back in the turbo era. I bought my first Ferrari when I was 32 and that really cemented me as a fan.
“I love it because of the passion and the depth of feeling. There are a lot more emotions involved in owning a Ferrari rather than a Porsche. There’s this history, this culture, the whole feeling of what Ferrari is – on the circuit as well as with road cars.
“There’s definitely been a real buzz around the team this year. We’ve all been texting and talking on social media. We were all a bit hesitant after the tests because we had been there before, had passed the tests well and got carried away.
“But that appears to be real with the results so far, and with the other Ferrari-powered teams doing well, there are plenty of reasons for optimism.”
A man who has always known the strength of Ferrari is Alessandro Diamantithe former Italian striker who plays in the A-League for Western United.
He will be on the track on Sunday accompanied by his nine-year-old son, Taddeo, and the youngster is looking forward to following his favorite team – Ferrari – in person for the first time.
“He loves the car, he loves Ferrari. We follow F1 just for Ferrari. In Italy it’s huge and we’re very proud of Ferrari. They have 60 million supporters in Italy alone. And in the rest of the world, much, much more. Taddeo is tifosi. He watched the Netflix documentary on F1 and he became a big fan of the sport, especially of Ferrari.
Scibberas says it’s also this story that pulled him along.
“It was the story of Enzo Ferrari, it touched me. Everyone knows that when they see a red sports car, the first thing they say is: ‘Is that a Ferrari?
“Everyone’s face lights up when they see one,” he says.
“When you’re driving down the road and a kid waves at you and you wave back, he’s so thrilled. It’s a privilege to drive a car that has that pedigree.
Sainz and Leclerc would agree – especially if they are on the top step of the podium on Sunday afternoon.
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