In 1972 Enzo Ferrari's dream of a dedicated test track was realised with the building of the Fiorano track close to the factory at Maranello. The tracks main purpose is to test the latest F1 and GT racing cars, the team mechanics also use the track to practice the events of a race-simulated pit stop.
The layout of the track is typical to that of a regular road. It has a tortuosity index of 1.24, with 1,661 meters of bends and 1,339 meters of straight. The length of the standard course is 3,000 meters, extended to 3,021 meters by the new chicane built in 1992. The average speed for the course is over 160 km/h, with peaks of more than 290 km/h.
The amount of straight road and bends was designed to solve specific problems: a balance between right and left bends, bends with a differentiated radius, from 13.71 to 370 meters; bends with different features having one or more centres. Although convinced that it was impossible to repeat bends typical of other racetracks, the designers did try to include elements that resembled the salient features of some European courses. Bend no. 1 is used to assess car behaviour when braking hard. Bends 2 and 9 (sharp bends to left and right) to verify brakes when turning into the bend and engine elasticity when leaving it.
The next two equal radius bends, 4 and 5, were designed to verify centrifugal effects on fuel supply and handling between left and right. The uphill slope, with its 6.5% incline as from bend 6, and the straight between bends 6 and 7, with a number of ups and downs including a first hump, a dip and another hump, were designed to highlight variations in stability during car trajectory transients. The road between curves 10 and 14 was intended to highlight overall car performance, particularly from an aerodynamic viewpoint. Chicane 15 provides a good indication of engine and chassis behaviour during acceleration, particularly relating to drive.
The circuit benefits from having a computerised system that sends all the technical information from the car direct to the pits, this includes details on speed, lap times and all host of technical information to aid in the development of the car. The circuit is covered by 10 fixed cameras to aid the team in seeing just what is happening on the track.
In the pits the team has access to the television, timing and computer control room, Safety at the track is extremely high, with a dedicated fire truck and fire posts, along with the track's own emergency ambulance. This is for the safety of the drivers as well as the cars being tested. The track is completely fenced off from the public, but this does not deter the passionate Tifosi from watching behind the fence in the hope of seeing the cars going round the circuit.
Ferrari being Ferrari one dedicated test track is simply not good enough, so what do they do they get themselves another one. Fiorano may be the best known for Ferrari testing but the Mugello circuit plays host to many Ferrari test sessions throughout the season.
The Mugello racetrack originates from an old road circuit that ran for over 66km. The first race to be held at Mugello was held way back in 1914. Racing at the track was soon interrupted by World War One.
After the was the track saw it's greatest moments in it's long history especially in the sixties after the famous 'Mille Miglia' road race disappeared. The names who have raced at the circuit still echo around the track. Campari, Brilli Peri, Ascari, Emilio Materassi are among the names. Enzo Ferrari won the race in 1921 in an Alfa Romeo.
At the end of the sixties the track had to be closed for safety reason, but on 23rd of June 1974 the circuit was reopened with a F5000 race. Ferrari bought the race track in 1989 and have greatly remodelled the track since the purchase. Today the track off course plays host to Ferrari test days but it also has the World Road Racing Championship, the ITC International Touring Car Championship, the World Superbike Championship along with the FIA GTI Championship.
Through forests and green areas the track runs for over 5,000m. Facilities at the circuit have been built to the highest specifications. Elevated viewing areas allow spectators to have a great view of the action on track. Ferrari test session attract a lot of attention and although a lot are behind closed doors there are days when the Tifosi are allowed through the gates to see the Scuderia test. The track is equally divided between straight sections and turns. 15 turns make up a lap at Mugello with 9 right handers.
Due to the varied nature of the circuit containing straights, chicanes and ups and downs it makes an idea place to test all aspects of a Formula One car especially the engine and the aerodynamics. The Ferrari team make ideal use of this when they regularly test at Mugello.
Safety at Mugello is of the highest standards, with 24 camera's lined to closed circuit TV the marshal's are in constant touch with the action. The track's medical centre is fully operational and all staff trained to the high standards required for such a track. Between Fiorano and Mugello Ferrari spend a lot of time, so if you are ever in the area and hear a sweet sound you may just may get a glimpse of the Red cars in action.