World championship runner-up Ferrari has provided three leading runners from the Italian national F3 series with a chance to sample F1 power in what has become a traditional end-of-season reward.
Vallelunga's Circuit Piero Taruffi was the venue for new champion Cesar Ramos and closest rivals Stephane Richelmi and Andrea Caldarelli to get to grips with an F1 car for the first time, with each getting a chance to drive the two-year old F2008 under the supervision of the head of Ferrari's Driver Academy, Luca Baldisserri, and a team from Maranello's F1 Clienti department.
Ramos was the first on track, the 21-year old Brazilian admitting that the run was better than he could ever have imagined.
"Taking to the track in a Ferrari Formula 1 car was an incredible experience, better than anything I expected," he commented, "I was guided by a group of professionals, who made me feel perfectly at ease, and that contributed to making it an unforgettable experience. I tried to enjoy it as much as possible, because it really was a dream come true."
Monegasque Richelmi, who finished as runner-up in the championship, underlined the huge difference between the Ferrari and an F3 car, while fellow 20-year old Caldarelli admitted that it was a huge moment in his career and hard to keep his emotions in check.
"Driving a Ferrari is the dream of every driver," the Italian conceded after completing the day's proceedings, "I tried not to feel awestruck by the occasion so as not to waste a single moment. It has been a day I will never forget."
The Vallelunga test was the third time the top three in the Italian F3 Championship have got their hands on an F1 car, the tradition having started in 2008 at Fiorano and continued at Jerez last year.