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If you drove Formula One cars for a living, what would you drive in your spare time? Well, just about anything you want, given the multi-million-dollar contracts F1 drivers garner these days. F1 teams, however, routinely present their star drivers with their parent company's best rides. For example, while at McLaren, Fernando Alonso had to make room for his SLR by selling off his Renaultsport Megane. But Felipe Massa may have to get a (slightly) larger garage to fit the new custom Fiat 500 that Ferrari presented him in Monaco next to the Ferrari 599 he received previously. But after routinely squeezing into the tiny cockpit of a grand prix racing car, the comparatively vast space inside the tiny Fiat may actually be a step up.
Naturally Ferrari wouldn't give its star driver just any ordinary 500. Massa's has been outfitted with a 120-hp 1.4-liter quattrovalvole four from Fiat Powertrain Technologies, a special brown leather interior to contrast with the pearl white paint and Skydome electric sunroof, and bright red brake calipers peering from behind the 16" alloys. We can't see him complaining, especially since his mentor Michael Schumacher himself has an original 500 in his garage.
A 120 bhp Fiat 500 for driver Felipe Massa
Today at Monte Carlo (Monaco), Felipe Massa was presented with a Fiat 500 powered by an exclusive 1.4 litre, 120 bhp engine and personalised with unique graphic details, such as his signature embossed in the sill scuff plate.
With Pearl White paintwork and interior trim in brown Cordura, the supermini given to the Scuderia Ferrari driver is, of course, the Sport variant, with a Skydome electric sunroof, 16" diamond alloy finish and red brake callipers.
What really sets the car apart, however, is its lusty 1.4 16v engine with a power output raised to 120 bhp by Fiat Powertrain Racing, the FPT (Fiat Powertrain Technologies) division responsible for the design, research, development and production of engines for competition use, performance kits for petrol and diesel units and, lastly, special engines for limited edition models.
So a distinctly sporty Fiat 500 for the charming, talented Brazilian driver who picked up six pole positions and three wins (Grand Prix of Bahrain, Spain and Turkey) last season, finishing in fourth place and contributing significantly to Ferrari's Constructors' title and to team mate Kimi Räikkönen's World Drivers' Championship victory.
This major sporting achievement is reflected perfectly in a car that has garnered numerous prestigious international accolades, such as "Car of the Year 2008", "EuroCarBody 2007" and "Auto Europa 2008". This is why the Brazilian driver and the Fiat 500 are so well matched, as the sporting and personal attributes of Felipe Massa are echoed in the character of the Fiat 500: a car that is lovable and unconventional, yet innovative and successful.