15 July 2013
F1 stars out in force at Goodwood
Two historically significant cars from its 250 series, a 2010-spec F1 car and its newest V12 flagship model, the F12berlinetta, as well as a very special one-off car from the company's Special Projects division. Gené was driving F10 chassis #285, as driven to four race wins by Fernando Alonso, as well as Eric Clapton's one-off SP12 EC, which made its Goodwood debut as a private entry at the invitation of host Lord March.
The SP12 EC's unique styling was inspired by the iconic flat-engined V12 512BB. Clapton's fondness for the Berlinetta Boxer - of which he owned three examples - can be clearly seen in his bespoke SP12 EC from Ferrari's Special Projects division which commits to only ever produce one example of the client's design.
The F12berlinetta also made its first UK appearance at the Festival of Speed this weekend. Spectators crammed into the Michelin Supercar paddock to catch a glimpse of the most powerful road-going Ferrari ever but, flanking the 740hp F12berlinetta were a 'Tailor-Made' Ice White Pearl 458 Spider and an FF showcasing the model's new glass panoramic roof option.
Alongside Gene, other former F1 drivers made cameo appearances at the wheel of historic machinery, with Gabriele Tarquini getting his first taste of the famous 1964 Honda RA272 on the start line at the start of the weekend.
"I didn't even get to drive it from the paddock," the experienced Italian smiled after climbing from the 1.5-litre twelve-cylinder machine, "I got into the car and the mechanics started the engine and what a magic sound. It is just such a wonderful engine note, its sweet to hear and so crisp. I really wanted to take my ear-plugs out to hear the sound pure and clear!
“The six-speed gearbox gives a nice feel, but you have to be slow on the changes for it to be happy. You can't rush the changes and also need to get the revs correct to make the change sweet. Of course, it has an H-pattern change and it's a long time since I drove with one of those. It's a dry clutch so you have to be gentle with that too, but it all works superbly. The engine has so much power – if you think that each tiny cylinder is just 125cc each with four valves per cylinder, it is so wonderfully small. It's like racing a fine Swiss watch!
“This is a 1964 car, so I'm feeling the real racing of that time. It's strange to feel the floating sensation of that period. The seat is not made to fit the driver so well as now and the belts are not as big so as the car gets steering loads you actually move around in the cockpit also on braking. It's a remarkable experience and I am so happy to be driving this very famous Honda for the first time.”
Tarquini, who now races in the WTCC, had been invited to appear by the Honda Collection Hall, the company's heritage collection in Japan, and revelled in the event's atmosphere.
"There are so many beautiful cars, so many different cars of all types - racing, rally, roadcars, special cars and also many, many car fans, so the whole show is a joy for me,” he noted, “I was on holiday in Italy but, for this invitation, I just had to be here."
Elsewhere on the hill, Nelson Piquet was reunited with his title-winning Brabham BT52. The car, powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder BMW engine, was the actual one that took Piquet to his second F1 crown in 1983.
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