Finali Mondiali 2023: Celebrating Ferrari motorsport at Mugello


Italy’s Tuscany region is all rolling hills and serene hues of green and yellow. But for one weekend every year, a pocket of it becomes red. Very red. I’m at the Mugello Circuit amidst thousands of tifosi attending Finali Mondiali, which marks the end of Ferrari’s one-make racing season. As I learn, the races are only a part of the show. At its core, this is an event that celebrates all things Ferrari. And this year, Ferrari had much to celebrate with victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Ferrari 2023 Le Mans celebration
2023 Le Mans-winning crew got a heroes’ reception from the tifosi.

The Ferrari Challenge

The Ferrari Challenge, as the championship is called, is a chance for Ferrari owners to compete in full-blown FIA homologated sprint races. No, they don’t just show up and slip into racing overalls. The programme includes tutelage from professional racers, practice sessions, an understanding of telemetry and so on. It’s a side gig that requires time, dedication, and I’m guessing a blank cheque. Teams are fielded by Ferrari dealers and workshops so it’s a properly competitive atmosphere. The regional North American, European, British and Japanese series culminate with a common final round at Finali Mondiali where the champions are crowned.

Ferrari Finali Mondiali 2023

I’m happy to report the racing is way more exciting than I’d expected. Wheel-to-wheel action, calculated overtakings and even the odd wild move, the races have it all. And what a circuit Mugello is! The TV cameras just don’t do justice to it. The elevation changes, the motley mix of high and slow speed corners, and the sizeable main straight make it such a spectacular track.

Of note is that this is likely the last outing for many of the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo race cars (think 488 GTB dialled up to 11) booming by. Come 2024, the new 296 Challenge will be rolled onto the grid marking a dramatic shift to V6 power after 30 Ferrari Challenge seasons of V8 racers.

The next Ferrari Challenge

Ferrari 296 Challenge

Out goes the 488 Challenge Evo and in comes the track-only 296 Challenge. It forgoes the road-going 296 GTB’s electrified powertrain, drawing its power solely from a race-modified version of the standard car’s 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6. Total output is up to 700hp and the removal of the hybrid system has resulted in a weight reduction of 140kg. Aero enhancements include a body-width, carbon-fibre rear spoiler, which helps generate 18 percent more downforce than the preceding 488 Challenge Evo. Stopping power comes from new carbon-ceramic discs that are three times longer-lasting than those of the 488 Challenge Evo, and the pads twice as long lasting. The car’s overall dynamics and on-track behaviour have been enhanced to deliver more rear-end precision too.

Ferrari XX Programme

Ferrari XX programme
And the award for best soundtrack goes to the 599XX and FXX’s shrieking V12s.

The main event for me starts when cars from Ferrari’s XX Programme take to the track. These are track-only specials solely available to the brand’s most loyal customers. And man, are they special! The 599XX, for instance, is an extreme iteration of the 599 GTB. It’s 270kg lighter than the original and its V12 is amped up to 750hp. The sound? Uninhibited naturally aspirated V12 magic. And like fighter planes taking off from a warship, more and more specials take to the track. There’s the FXX, which is the Enzo with a larger and more powerful V12, and the cheekily (or aptly) named FXX-K, a focused La Ferrari built to destroy lap times. It’s just sensationa to see the ultimate versions of some of Ferrari’s greatest hits live in action. The piercing shrieks of their V12s will stay with me forever, of that I’m sure.

Ferrari FXX-K
FXX-K is the La Ferrari’s evil twin and is built with the sole purpose of demolishing track records.

There’s quiet at the track between sessions, and then the silence is broken by the spine-tingling sound of an F1 engine firing up. It’s not Messrs Sainz or Leclerc (they’re busy with their day job at the Mexican GP) at the wheel but a lucky few members of Ferrari’s F1 Clienti programme ready for a spin in ‘their’ F1 cars. You read that right. Ferrari’s top-tier customers are invited to buy an F1 car. The catch? As with the XX programme, the cars stay with Ferrari and are shipped to track events accompanied by a full battery of technicians. And racing is prohibited. Sharing track space today are Michael Schumacher’s championship-winning F1-2000, Kimi Räikkönen’s F2008 and Sebastian Vettel’s SF70H, amongst 16 other F1 cars. The sounds, the speed, the drama has my hair standing on end. And I’m not even the one driving! Note to self – become a billionaire quick. 

Ferrari F1 cars
Who said don’t meet your heroes? Jaw-dropping display had cars from all eras of Formula 1.

The rich and famous (and dear to Ferrari) will soon have an additional opportunity to live their automotive fantasies with a new Sport Prototipi Clienti programme. The car? The 499P Modificata, a derivative of the Le Mans winning 499P. Unreal.

Le Mans derived Ferrari 499P Modificata

Ferrari 499P

The 499P Modificata is arguably the ultimate track tool money can buy. It’s based on the Le Mans winning 499P and modifications are limited. There are new Pirelli tyres (they require less warming up than the race car’s Michelins) and a slightly altered throttle map to make the power more accessible. The 3.0-litre hybridised V6 is shared with the Le Mans car with power upped to 810hp. Also, electric assist is available from the get-go versus upwards of 190kph that’s stipulated by the rules on the racer. Each buyer will have access to the car for two years and take part in nine events organised by Ferrari each year.

Ferrari 499P
This 499P won the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ferrari’s first outright win at the iconic race in 58 years.

Static displays at the 2023 Finali Mondiali

I stroll into the display hangar over the lunch break to be greeted by the 2023 Le Mans winner, in the very condition it crossed the finish line – bugs splattered, worn tyres and all. The display hall is a treasure trove with F1 cars from the 1970s on, each with its own chequered history. I have to say, today’s F1 cars look like monsters compared to the lithe ones of the early 2000s and before.

Ferrari’s Antonio Giovinazzi
How often do you meet a Le Mans winner? All smiles with Ferrari’s Antonio Giovinazzi.

No less special are the classics and road-based racers lining the perimeter. There’s an F40 Competizione, a 250 GT SWB and a 330 P4 to name just a few. It’s Ferrari fantasyland. I admit I have to read the nameplates on some unfamiliar models. They’re unfamiliar because they’re one-offs. The F8 Spider-based SP8 that debuted at Finali Mondiali is designed for a collector in Taiwan, but it’s the breathtakingly gorgeous KC23 that I can’t get enough of. It looks like a Ferrari from 2040.

My tour of the buzzing venue leads me to the merchandise shop. It’s a place of serious business with memorabilia (in order of price), including hand-built scale models, an F1 exhaust art piece and the actual V10 F1 engine from Schumacher’s race-winning 2000 season car, yours for Rs 1.27 crore (1,40,000 euros)!

Ferrari V10 F1 engine
Memorabilia on sale included the V10 engine from Schumacher’s race-winning 2000 season F1 car. Yours for the princely sum of Rs 1.27 crore!

Tifosi to the end

Over the weekend, I get a ring-side view of an exclusive world open to a select few, and truly experience the passion that Ferrari conjures. To fans, a victory for Ferrari is a personal win. To put it in social media lingo, Ferrari is not just a carmaker or motorsport’s team. It’s an emotion.

Next year’s Finali Mondiali will be held at the legendary Imola Circuit from October 16-20, 2024. If you can, you must go.

Also see:

Ferrari 812 successor due next year; will continue with V12 engine

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