Green light. I’m up first. A blue Assetto Fiorano stands ready in front of the pit with the door open. I put on my crash helmet, squeeze into the cockpit and tighten the four-point harness in a nice bit of foreplay. The next moment, total sensory overload! Staring back at me is the fully digital, science-fiction-like instrumentation and the multifunction steering wheel with touch buttons for setting the four driving modes eDrive, Hybrid, Performance and Qualify, as well as the rotary controls for the driving programs Wet, Sport, Race, CT off, ESC off. An engineer crouches down next to the car and explains everything to me. He asks me expectantly if I’d like to try the electric mode, pointing out that it’s quite something in a Ferrari. Worth having experienced it at least once. “Over my dead body,” I answer without hesitation. He smiles thinly. There is a brief silence. “Just a suggestion,” he says. That settles it. I didn’t come to Fiorano to drive an electric car. After all, I don’t go to a coffeeshop to buy an inflatable boat. Full speed ahead, gearing up maximum power reserves.
Anything else would be simply inconceivable. So I set the engine to “Qualify”. But how do I actually start the engine? There is no start button anywhere to be seen. The engineer points to an “Engine Start Stop” indicator on the steering wheel. I press it with my thumb. I’m curious as to what 1,000 hp sounds like. Not as bad as you might think. First of all, it’s muffled (after all, it’s turbo and not naturally aspirated). A low base frequency. Full. Rich. Pleasant. Unruffled. Permeates the body like a Tibetan singing bowl massage. Now I mustn’t close my eyes, otherwise I’ll get too comfy and the Dalai Lama will appear to me in his colorful robe and the well-worn slippers, which might not be the best thing on the Pista di Fiorano. Not to belittle the matter: The Assetto Fiorano is, in truth, the sound of the absolute superior expressing its dominance, relegating, as it were, the sub-1,000 horsepower society (read: everyone else) to a horde of roaring, screeching, inferiority-complex-laden, no-class losers.