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Ferrari: when sailing is in pole position

Sailing. Ferrari. Formula 1 and the America’s Cup. An Italian passion tinged with red. The Prancing Horse is back in action. In view of the Formula 1 World Championship that will start at the beginning of March with the Bahrain GP, the Maranello marque has unveiled the new single-seater with which Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will attempt the assault on the world championship that has been missing for 17 years. It was 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen won the world title, taking Ferrari to the highest peak of the motorsport queen. As chance would have it, that very year saw the debut of a certain Lewis Hamilton, the same driver who, ironically enough, will be driving a Maranello car from 2025. The announcement of the British champion’s arrival took everyone by surprise. But this was only the latest in a series of messages that warmed the hearts of the many Ferrari fans. 


Ferrari and the sea

Yes, because the red wave of emotions will soon cross the borders of the racetracks to embrace the boundless horizons of the sea. And so if Hamilton’s arrival has positively displaced everyone, the same happened when, a few weeks ago, it was announced that Giovanni Soldini ( all our posts about him, here) would be entering the scene. The Italian sailor who has made the ocean his racing ground has been appointed Team Principal of a project destined to leave its mark on the history of both Italian sailing and the Maranello marque. And, reading the statement by John Elkann, Ferrari’s Chairman, the conditions are all there: ‘We are about to embark on an exciting journey that will expand our racing soul. With this new racing challenge, motivated by our innovative capacity and commitment to sustainability, we will push beyond our current boundaries. We are happy to be able to count on Giovanni, who is extraordinary for his experience, determination and team spirit,’ Elkann commented the day after the announcement. 

Giovanni Soldini

A new chapter for the Prancing Horse

This opens a new chapter in the glorious history of the car manufacturer whose fortunes on the sea are entrusted to the experience of an exceptional driver whose exploits on the ocean have left an indelible mark. Not least at the helm of Maserati which, first in the Vor70 monohull version and later in the Multi70 configuration, has led Italian sailing to conquer several records, including the New York – San Francisco Gold Route, the record on the Tea Route, not to mention the many podiums in regattas such as the Transpac and the RORC Caribbean 600 to name but a few. But now the music changes and the stakes become even higher. Of course, to date, a curtain of secrecy shrouds the project about which very little is still known. What is certain is that it will be something never seen before. At least judging by the first statements made by the Milanese navigator.”I am thrilled to begin a new adventure with Ferrari,” commented Soldini, who added. “We are working on an important and cutting-edge project with an amazing technological potential that brings together different worlds and skills of the highest level. Participating in the research and development of innovative and planet-friendly solutions with an exceptional team is truly a unique experience. As unique as it will be when it will be possible to see the Ferrari of the oceans up close.  

Giovanni Soldini – Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for Maserati Multi70

The Ferrari of the sea will be innovative 

To make predictions today is premature. But some indications given by Soldini himself help to narrow down the range. ‘It is a very innovative object, in many respects. From the forces applied to how it works. And it is like that in everything. There is a lot of innovation. In fact, I would say mind-blowing technology. It’s a very strange monohull. Let’s say it is a ‘monohull’, said the sailor in an interview with La Stampa. Translated, it means something halfway between a traditional monohull and a multihull with the addition, we imagine, of the ever-present foils. On the programme that awaits the new boat as well as the role that Giovanni Soldini will play and therefore whether he will be on board or not, it is still too early to draw any conclusions. The only certainty is his presence in the role of Team Principal while for the Ferrari-red boat we can imagine a campaign that will focus on pulverising some records.

Maserati Multi 70

And what about the America’s Cup?

But Maranello’s entry into the sailing arena also provides a pretext for some reflections. One of these leads straight to the America’s Cup. Whether it is a first step in the direction of this event is too early to say. At the same time, there is no shortage of elements that could point towards this goal. Starting with those of a strictly family nature such as the passion for sailing in general and for the America’s Cup in particular on the part of Avvocato Agnelli, one of the promoters in 1983 of the first Italian challenge with Azzurra. A passion for sailing that, coincidentally, Elkann himself inherited from his grandfather. Certainly there is an unbridgeable gap between Azzurra and the flying boats that race the America’s Cup today. Which becomes almost invisible if we compare the AC75 to Formula 1 single-seaters. At least at the level of research, development and not least materials. And here Ferrari, we would say, has a lot of aces up its sleeve. But leaving fantavela aside, what is true is that the queen of yacht racing has many things in common with the queen of motorsport.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team

One only has to reread recent history. Starting for example with the role of BMW which, alongside Oarcle, has played a central role on several occasions both when monohulls were the protagonists and when multihulls dominated the scene. Not to mention Land Rover which has stood by the side of the British challengers led by Sir Ben Ainslie.The same people who now race under the colours of Ineos, which in turn is a partner of Mercedes AMG-Petronas in Formula 1. Not enough? What about Alinghi Red Bull Racing Team then? The Swiss challenge also smells of Formula 1 not only because of the not-so-secret passion of Adrian Newey, engineer, designer and above all technical director of Red Bull Racing one of the most successful racing teams, for sailing. Finally, as if that were not enough, comes the announcement of Alpine (another team at the start of the next world championship) taking to the seas in the America’s Cup alongside the French Orient-Express. This is why imagining one day seeing a sailing Ferrari at the start of the next America’s Cup is not such a forbidden dream. Back down to earth, meanwhile, we can’t wait to see the dawn of an exciting new Luna Rossa. 

Matteo Zaccagnino

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