piloti, che gente. . . by Enzo Ferrari. Photos by author.
Well before he became the world’s most famous carmaker, Enzo Ferrari’s main interest in life was to become a journalist. He was highly articulate, loved to write, and had a strong command of the Italian language. During his early years he penned many newspaper articles and wrote numerous editorials and articles for the Ferrari factory’s in-house publication.
According to noted historian, Griffith Borgeson, “The most important single work on Ferrari is, by far, his autobiography, Le Mie Giore Terribili–My Terrible Joys, first published in 1962. Then in 1964, came the fourth edition, bearing the subtitle Due Anni Dopo–Two Years Later.” Years later, Enzo Ferrari wrote piloti, che gente….
Published in 1983, piloti, che gente… is Enzo’s personal assessment on each of the Grand Prix drivers who drove for Ferrari. His valuations are direct, insightful, and brutally honest. Here’s a sampling of Enzo’s thoughts on a few of the more popular Formula One drivers.
Ricardo Rodriquez: “He is a fierce young man who drives with a terrifying carelessness and with incomparable physical effort. I think that if this young man learns to control his enthusiasm and refine his style, he could have tremendous success. His brother Pedro was more reasonable and less impulsive.”
John Surtees: “I liked John’s technique, his passion and spirit, all of which he gave of generously in competition. I also liked his seriousness with which he studied the course and trained conscientiously; he gave his attention to every detail observing his opponents, the cars, and the idiosyncrasies of the track to figure out how he could use them to his own advantage. He showed the same meticulousness with this own car and was never satisfied.”
Phil Hill: “Phil Hill wasn’t a first-rate driver, but he was dependable and profitable mainly on high speed circuits where speed was the determining factor.”
Chris Amon: “An outstanding test driver and a clean, fine racer, he should have been more daring on the racetrack. The fact was that he often lacked this strength. Who knows if his children will believe how close he came to being one of the greatest aces of racing?”
Jacky Ickx: “Ickx combined daring and reason. Yet, the boy who grew up too fast was capable of fine, fearless driving in the rain and left a lasting impression on me.”
Niki Lauda: “On the track, he displayed talent in his assuredness and determination. I could compare his style and manner behind the wheel to Collins’. He became a great and intelligent racer overnight–there is no doubt about that.”
Carlos Reutemann: “This top Argentine racer was shaped by his tormenting and tormented personality. He was good at solving problems, even when they were caused by mechanical difficulties, but his weakness was allowing his emotional temperament to sap the results that he could get at the start of a race.”
Gilles Villeneuve: “There were those who called him a ‘flyer’ and who considered him nutty, but his energy combined with his daring and his “destructive” capacity for burning out axleshafts, gears, clutches, and brakes when he raced, taught us what was required for a racer to protect himself in an unexpected situation, in desperate circumstances. He was the champion warrior, and he gave Ferrari a great deal of fame. I was extremely fond of him.”
Didier Pironi: “Like Phil Hill, he loved high speeds, and he was among the few who are actually comfortable on wide curves where one has to ‘floor the gas pedal.’ He could react to and judge his car’s potential and the particulars of a race.”
Jim Clark: “Clark was undoubtedly a great racer, one of those few greats you can count on your fingers. I’ve heard he wasn’t very talkative, but he was intelligent and unscrupulous in a race car. I would have liked to put him in a Ferrari, and some said I could have gotten him for the team. But I never believed it. Clark would have never driven anything by an English car.”
All told there are 360 pages of nothing but Enzo Ferrari’s entertaining, knowledgeable, and honest insight into the world of Grand Prix racing–from its earliest days when he was a driver for Alfa Romeo up until the early 1980s. It’s clear that he appreciated and admired the many drivers who drove his cars for him, as well as those who didn’t.
Through the years piloti, che gente… had been printed in many different versions, so it’s relatively easy to find today. My copy is one of the limited edition hardcover versions of which only 2,500 copies were printed, however, regardless which version you buy, you will discover lots of interesting, engaging, and pleasurable information about many of the greatest Grand Prix drivers.