A crowd of 20,000 watched Ferrari's Marc Gené perform a demonstration run on the Doha corniche over the weekend as the Scuderia took F1 to Qatar.
The event, organised by Shell in collaboration with the Qatar Motor Show, which gets underway for the second time on Monday, saw Gené pilot an F2008 at over 300km/h along a three-kilometre course set up as a temporary venue highlighting the Qatari capital's sea front, and drew an enthusiastic response from the spectators, as did the pit-stops, run by Scuderia Ferrari's F1 Clienti department.
“It was a very interesting day - demonstrating a F1 car in such a beautiful setting was really enjoyable for me,” Gené commented after the show, “I've done quite a few events of this type, but I have never managed to go as quickly as I did today. Towards the end, I was pressing on the accelerator, because I could feel the enthusiasm of the crowd, but it was down to the track and, in the shape of the F2008, an amazing car.”
The Spaniard stressed the important of events like this when it comes to increasing the popularity of F1 and taking the sport to hitherto unexplored audiences.
“It's great to bring our sport so close to the people, especially in a country that has never seen any F1 action and I am particularly grateful to the organisers of the event, for ensuring all the necessary safety precautions were in place as well as allowing the spectators to experience the spectacle in such an intense way," he said, "I like Qatar - I was here back in 2004 for the first running of the MotoGP and I have found the country has changed, grown in what one could say is a controlled manner. We got a very warm welcome, showing the passion the people have for Ferrari and motoring in general.”
With only a few weeks to go to the start of the season, inevitably Gené was asked about the Scuderia's prospects for 2012.
“Back in Maranello, everyone is doing their utmost to be as well prepared as possible for the season,” he revealed, “We are pleased with the work we are doing, but we are well aware that we don't race alone and the others are also doing their best. We will only begin to get a true picture at the first Grand Prix in Melbourne. Clearly, Ferrari has just one objective, which is part of our DNA, namely victory and we have proved many times before that we know how to achieve it: it's not by chance that we are the most successful team in this sport. However, we are equally aware that winning is never easy, especially in a sport as competitive as F1.”