Ferrari Corse Clienti is the secret way to owning your own F1 car

It doesn't matter how smart your phone is or whether your PC has 24gb of RAM pulsing through the latest Intel 7 processor – it's no chance of performing the seemingly simply task of starting a 30-year old Formula 1 car.

Instead, you're better off scouring the interweb for an older computer, maybe a Commodore 64 or Olivetti PC.

Yep, despite being some of the fastest and most advanced cars ever built, getting an old school Formula 1 car running requires some equally old school thinking by using computers that existed when the cars were created.

That's according to Antonella Coletta, the man charged with maintaining and preparing about 60 old Ferrari F1 machines, ranging from cars developed in the 1970s through to championship-winning race winners driven by Michael Schumacher from the 2000s.

Coletta is the head of Ferrari Corse Clienti, the customer racing division of the Italian sports car brand – one of the few places anyone with enough money can get their hands on a Formula 1 car.

XX racing

As well as race going versions of regular Ferraris – known as XX models - Coletta is also in charge of F1 Clienti, the program that allows wealthy enthusiasts to buy old Formula 1 cars – the real, race-winning machines, not replicas.

"F1 is the dream of all our customers with a motorsport attitude," says Coletta from his office next door to the late Enzo Ferrari's house in Piazza Michael Schumacher, one of the central squares surrounding the famous Fiorano race track on the edge of the Ferrari factory in Maranello.

Front and centre on a race track may not be everyone's idea of good view, but for Coletta it's ideal.

That said, he admits the four windows in his office are double glazed, perhaps for the days when F1 cars sounded good and loud.


Start saving

Ferrari has run its F1 Clienti program since 2003, tailored to give wealthy motorsport lovers the chance to own a Ferrari Formula 1 car.

Ferrari is discreet on the price of entry into the Clienti program, which is code for "it ain't cheap".

It also depends on the provenance of the car.

Show me the money

Championship winning machines driven by Michael Schumacher - the most successful F1 driver in 68 seasons of the sport - will sell for a lot more than a car that never won a race in the hands of Eddie Irvine.

Race winning cars from a track such as Monaco or Spa will also command bigger dollars.

A recent auction in the US saw a two-time Schumacher-winning chassis from 2001 sold for US$7.5 million, about $9.6 million.

While that's one of the more expensive in the collection, Coletta hints other cars may be worth more.

"The median price is 2.5 million Euros."

Keep spending

But buying the car is only part of the cost.

Because it's a genuine F1 racer it requires more than an annual oil change and a friendly mechanic.

Most owners choose to store their car in Maranello at the factory, where it's fastidiously maintained and serviced and safety checked prior to whatever event or race the owner chooses to take part in next.

That could be a race event arranged by Ferrari or a blast with friends around a private race track.

When the F1 car is wheeled on to a track, there's a team of technicians – complete with old laptop computers and spare parts – to keep the cars running.

Speed freaks

F1 cars are not the type of machine most people would consider driving fast on a race track.

Except Corse Clienti is a different world of super rich owners who want the ultimate toy.

Owners aren't trying to set a lap record but they want to experience the power and high speed cornering of an F1 car.

Coletta says the best drivers are only 3.5 seconds slower than the Ferrari F1 drivers lapping a track.

On hold, for now

Ferrari never struggles to sell its cars, even the ones performing poorly on track.

But in recent years it has stopped the F1 sales – all because of concerns over safety.

Since 2009 F1 cars have been allowed to use a hybrid system, known as KERS, the Kinetic Energy Recovery System.

Ferrari used it from that first season it was allowed but dropped for 2010 before coming back in again in 2011.

A new breed of F1

In 2015 then McLaren driver Fernando Alonso had a high profile crash during pre-season testing, something some speculated was as a result of an electric shock.

"From 2014 we stopped the sale because the cars are more complicated and the management of car with hybrid is more difficult," says Coletta, nominating possible electrocution as a safety concern.

He says Ferrari is working on technology to reduce those risks, but at the moment it is not here.

"We hope the technology is coming from us to manage these cars for the future without the complicated position that we have now."

Once Ferrari determines the modern hybrid cars are safe to run there will no doubt be plenty of interest in the new breed of F1 cars to be sold to private buyers.