When he's not racing superbikes or reliving the good old days, seven-time Formula World Champion Michael Schumacher gets his thrills testing new Ferrari supercars. The Prancing Horse recently had Schumi take a 599 GTB with the company's new Handling GT Evoluzione (HGTE) package around Fiorano with a vengeance, and then they got the man to talk about his hand in developing Ferrari models from the ground up.
Schumacher's flogging of the tauter 599 was part of Pilota Ferrari, which is Ferrari's multi-level driving school program for owners. In a second video after the jump, the German pilot also discusses the importance of driving schools for every day driving. Somehow, we have a feeling that the "on-the-limit" maneuvers he speaks of just aren't the same in a 599 GTB HGTE as they are in the Pontiacs at our local track.
Michael Schumacher on the track with the 599 GTB HGTE
Maranello, 10 June 2009 - Michael Schumacher covered around 20 laps of Fiorano today at the wheel of the 599 GTB equipped with the Handling GT Evoluzione package that was recently introduced at the Geneva Show.
The seven-times World F1 Champion took to the track to try out the improved handling offered by the new set-up which emphasises the performance of this, Ferrari's most powerful berlinetta.
The Handling GT Evoluzione package includes a lower, stiffer ride, a new tyre compound offering even better levels of grip, modified magnetorheological damper settings that improve body control and an even more sporty exhaust sound. The HGTE package also includes a number of styling touches that distinguish it from the standard production car, including a more aggressive front grille, specific 20" rims and abundant use of carbon-fibre trim in the cockpit.
Schumacher took the 599 GTB HGTE to its very limits at the Fiorano track during one of the factory's Pilota Ferrari driving courses. These are organised exclusively for Ferrari owners and four levels of courses are available - Basic, Advanced, Evolution and Challenge, along with a special On Ice course and a dedicated one for those wishing to race in the traditional one-make racing series, the Ferrari Challenge. The courses have been run in Italy for over 15 years and, more recently, courses have also been set up in the USA, China and, from 2009, in Japan.
With its Pilota Ferrari driving courses, Ferrari offers owners a comprehensive range of expert tuition designed to progressively instruct drivers in the art of performance driving, enabling them to appreciate even more the handling characteristics of their cars, and help them use their full potential in absolute safety, both on the track and on the road.