Ferrari’s on fire, and the fans love it

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“We have seen an increase in sales of items for children, so it looks as though people are wanting to get their kids kitted out to take them to the track.”

It’s maybe just a bit too early to say with certainty that the days of Ferrari domination – when Michael Schumacher won five world titles in a row between 2000 and 2004 – are back, but on the evidence of the first two races of the season, Ferrari fans have every reason to hope that is the case.

The team has worked hard in the off-season to get its car right, in line with 2022 F1 regulations, and its engine is now widely regarded as the best on the grid.

Charles Leclerc and Sainz, his two drivers, have 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.

Joseph Gerace in his Forza Italia shop: Ferrari demand has increased.

Joseph Gerace in his Forza Italia shop: Ferrari demand has increased.Credit:penny stephens

That puts Leclerc atop the driver standings and Ferrari at the head of the constructor’s title going into the third round of the championship in Melbourne.

Sainz says that the new regulations that have forced all teams to redesign their cars have helped Ferrari’s dramatic reboot.

“It’s been a tough few years for Ferrari, but we have used them to rebuild the team, the internal side of things, to make ourselves stronger and to be better at what we do,” he says. “We have used the regulation changes, having to start from zero and a blank piece of paper, to use this improvement in the way we work to put it into practice and suddenly be back at the top.”

Gerace believes that the extra hype for the Italian team this year has been boosted by the pent-up demand and frustration of fans starved of seeing F1 in this country for the past two years.

“They have not made this sort of start for a while, so it is really exciting after missing out on the last two races.”

It has been a long time since Ferrari was the cutting edge of the sport. The last time Ferrari had a world champion was in 2007, when Kimi Raikkonen took the title, and the last time the Prancing Horses danced in Melbourne was in 2018, when Sebastian Vettel took the checkered flag.

Charles Leclerc gets on the track at Albert Park during practice on Friday.

Charles Leclerc gets on the track at Albert Park during practice on Friday.Credit:Getty Images

Scibberas and Simon Hardwidge, the Ferrari club president, own Ferrari road cars and it is the passion and emotion of the brand, its history and longevity that has stirred their souls.

“I am building my own Ferrari museum. I bought an old historic warehouse and am in the process of doing a complete refit,” says Hardwidge. “I have been to every GP since the mid 1980s, during the turbo era. I bought my first Ferrari when I was 32 and that really cemented me as a fan.

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“I like it because of the passion and the depth of feeling. There’s a lot more emotion tied up in owning a Ferrari rather than a Porsche. There is that history, the culture, the whole feeling of what Ferrari is about – on the racecourse as well as with road cars.

“There’s definitely been a real buzz around the team this year. We have all been texting and talking on social media. We were all somewhat hesitant after testing because we have been there before, done well in testing and got carried away.

“But it seems to be real with the results so far, and with the other Ferrari engined teams doing well there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.”

One man who has always known the strength of Ferrari is Alessandro Diamanti, the former Italy striker who plays in the A-League for Western United.

He will be trackside 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 is huge and we are very proud of Ferrari. They have 60 million supporters only in Italy. And in the rest of the world, many, many more. Taddeo is tifosi. He watched the Netflix documentary on F1 and he became big supporter of the sport, especially Ferrari.”

Ferrari fans wait for the drivers to arrive and sign autographs at Albert Park.

Ferrari fans wait for the drivers to arrive and sign autographs at Albert Park.Credit:Getty Images

Scibberas says it was that history that dragged him in too.

“It was the story of Enzo Ferrari, it got to me. Everyone knows when they see a red sports car, the first thing they say is, ‘Is that a Ferrari’.

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“Everyone’s face glows when they see one,” he says.

“When you are driving down the road and a kid waves at you and you wave back they get so thrilled. It’s a privilege to drive a car that has that pedigree.”

Sainz and Leclerc would concur – especially if they are on top of the podium on Sunday afternoon.

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