Giorgio Turri, General Manager of Ferrari Middle East, took time out from his busy schedule recently to speak to us at length about all things Ferrari in our region.
The Italian national has accumulated a broad range of experiences in sales and marketing management, across diverse industries from automotive to domestic appliances and fitness. Responsible for Ferrari’s overall performance in the region since mid-2018, Turri has been busy overseeing the launch of several important model launches, numerous customer engagement events and managing the massive disruptions of 2020.
How do you describe the brand Ferrari and what does it mean to be living the Ferrari Lifestyle?
Ferrari is a brand that uniquely combines exclusivity, heritage, Italian craftsmanship and prestige, with a pure racing DNA. Within this framework and since 1947, our values, our unerring search for excellence, our sense of belonging with varied stakeholders at all levels, have remained vital elements of a brand that is relevant and contemporary over time.
Allow me to say that we do not define what the “Ferrari Lifestyle” is, our clients do, as they do create it with the way they connect with the brand. To be a “Ferrarista” – this is the way we call the Ferrari owners – means much more than driving some of the most desirable and sought-after cars in the world: in the essence, it means to live the brand and be part of a community united by passion for the Prancing Horse. Living the “Ferrari Lifestyle” means enjoying the connection with the brand and with the cars in full, it means gathering together with like-minded Ferrari owners, taking part in exclusive racetrack events, joining international road tours, participating in racing activities, discovering new models with exclusive Private Previews, and cheering together for the Scuderia – ultimately it means living and sharing a common passion.
Is the Ferrari Lifestyle something that just happens when a passionate automotive enthusiast buys a Ferrari or is there a special something that the Ferrari management team adds to the mix?
Well, for many of our clients[,] buying a Ferrari is somehow a dream coming true, an achievement that has to be celebrated. Then, the access to the ‘Ferrari Lifestyle’ comes naturally with their passion and their wish to enjoy the moment and their new car in full.
In this perspective, our “mission” and objective is simply to give clients the chance to connect with the brand, drive their cars, share their passion. It is our commitment to create and offer unique experiences that complement the product and nurture the sense of community that makes the world of Ferrari so exclusive and enjoyable. We try and provide the opportunity, the platform, the event, then it is our clients’ enthusiastic participation that make it a special moment.
How similar or different are Ferrari owners and their lifestyles in the Middle East vs the rest of the world?
Ferrari owners in the Middle East and the rest of the world expect excellence and the very best. They value individuality and flair as much as technology and performance, they drive a Ferrari for the experience, the thrill, the passion and the values of the heritage and innovation.
Then, probably more than any others, Middle Eastern Ferraristi are very keen to distinguish themselves, they wish to have something unique that reflects their personality and stands out. They are very knowledgeable, they are citizens of the world, they observe the trends and then they translate these expectations into the personalisation of their cars. They love to visit the “Atelier” areas of our showrooms, to check paint and leather colours, to select special finishes and to create their “unique” Ferrari. Many of them are also visiting our Factory in Maranello, where our Designers and Experts from the “Tailor Made” program can advise and help them create something never seen before or inspired by the amazing models of the past. Personalization is a key element of the “Ferrari experience” and the moment that our clients can finally see their ideas transferred on the actual car at the delivery ceremony is just so very emotional. For us as well!
What lifestyle events do you organize to promote the Ferrari lifestyle? Please provide details and some examples of such events.
From exclusive track days in the Middle East and all around the world to overnight drives towards hidden gems and glamorous locations, from World Premiers to VIP tours accessing areas that are normally off limits to the general public: this is just part of what the “Ferrari experience” is about.
Our “Passione Ferrari” events caters to our track enthusiasts who want to take advantage of exclusive racetrack days to enjoy their cars with their family and friends. We regularly organize events in the best racetracks in the region – Yas Marina Circuit, Bahrain International Circuit, Losail, Kuwait Motor Town, Dubai Autodrome – and the turnout is always overwhelming.
At these events we provide support with our certified instructors to ensure the highest safety levels and to provide guidance so that even the clients at their first experience on the racetrack can feel comfortable, but to those who really want to improve their skills and learn how to handle these high-performance road cars or to take them to the limit we always suggest the “Corso Pilota” program. These are unique progressive courses that develop driving skills, confidence and ability, taught by professional and experienced instructors that have years of Ferrari driving experience.
Then, for the clients wishing to go even further and jump into a racing car, there is “Club Challenge”, but I am going to tell you more on this in a moment…
We also have Ferraristi who prefer enjoying their cars off of the track. For them, we design and organize road tours at a local, regional or even international level to discover new places or visit top locations at the wheel of their cars.
The Ferrari Cavalcade is the most famous, exclusive, and sought-after of them: an event that provides a unique opportunity for owners to experience the pleasure of driving a Ferrari along routes carefully designed to bring out its best qualities and to take them to the most exciting locations you can imagine.
The Ferrari Cavalcade is usually hosted in Italy, our home country, but in 2019 it has been organized in the UAE to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Ferrari in the Middle East. We hosted 94 cars from 20 different countries and it was incredibly impressive to have that many Ferrari’s together traveling across the UAE: through Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Jebel Jais, Hatta. An exciting journey of discovery from the coast to the desert and the mountains. Trust me, I will never forget the moment the parade arrived at Burj Park in Dubai, with the Burj Khalifa getting “Ferrari red” to the notes of Andrea Bocelli!
Staying on lifestyle events, I can’t forget to mention “Casa Ferrari”, which we debuted during the 2019 Abu Dhabi F1 GP. Taking inspiration from the popular “Casa Ferrari” hospitality at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, California, Ferrari Middle East created the perfect destination for Ferraristi during the race, an exclusive venue right outside the racetrack where they could feel home along with other friends of the brand, staying out of the crowd but still at the centre of the action. In Italian, “Casa” means home and that’s exactly what this is, a place where our clients can relax and live their passion, support the Scuderia, stay connected with the Ferrari brand, discover our new models and test drive our cars.
“Casa Ferrari” is set-up as [a] proper “villa”, with luxurious indoor and outdoor spaces: guests can relax in the cigar room, enjoy the company of like-minded friends in the patio or just relish the beautiful garden area with the view of the Ferrari World dome. The atmosphere is glamorous, the welcome is warm and there is the genuine feeling that everyone shares the same passion and feels part of the Ferrari family. We missed it in 2020 and we’re planning on hosting Casa Ferrari again this year, our clients are waiting for it and we look forward too.
What is the Ferrari Club Challenge? Can you please describe the program, the activities that fall under this program, and how can Ferrari customers from the region take part in this program?
I am so very happy to get this question, as this is definitely one of the most rewarding projects our team have been working on! We launched the “Club Challenge Middle East” for the first time in the region in 2020 and we are receiving an overwhelming feedback from our clients.
The “Club Challenge” represents the launching pad for Ferraristi who are keen to take their driving prowess to the next level and experience the thrill of a racing car, the 488 Challenge Evo. The “Club Challenge” events are not races, but are designed to help the drivers enhance their skills through coaching and instruction. Every car is equipped with telemetry devices to record lap times and videos, the experience is overseen by Ferrari instructors across the track days and drivers can get to learn the finer skills of racing in a safe and nurturing environment where they are pitched against the clock and themselves, as opposed to other competitors.
In the region we have seen a big appetite for adrenaline pumping track experiences and a lot of excitement around our racing cars. After the launch of the program, the response received from our customers has been really encouraging for us. We are at the end of the first Season and we expect the “Club Challenge Middle East” to grow a lot over the next few years. Then it is also a pleasure to see some of the participants getting ready to take another step and training to join our racing programs, they will be welcomed to the “Ferrari Challenge” very soon.
Does Ferrari have any plans for Ramadan?
Definitely yes, as we never stop looking for new ideas to engage with our clients and friends of the brand.
This year we’re thrilled to launch for the very first time the “Ferrari Lounge”, where we will be hosting Ferrari owners alongside their families and friends for an exclusive experience in the very heart of Dubai. The “Ferrari Lounge” will be set-up at Dubai’s Armani Hotel Pavilion, right at the bottom of the iconic Burj Khalifa with sweeping views of the spectacular Dubai Fountain: certainly the ideal place for us to host and gather with our Ferrari Family.
While celebrating the Holy Month and enjoying impeccable hospitality in the authentic spirit of Ramadan, guests will have the opportunity to see and test drive the latest Ferrari models, to get to know more about the world of Ferrari, to experience first-hand the Ferrari Lifestyle and share their passion with other Ferraristi. This is definitely a unique and exclusive experience that only a brand like Ferrari can provide.
Two of Ferrari’s latest launches in the region are the Ferrari Roma and Portofino M. How has the customer response been for these two models in the region?
We are very happy with the response after the launch of these models, it has been even exceeding our expectations.
We presented the Ferrari Roma in February last year, with a wonderful launch event that took the very Italian concept of “La Nuova Dolce Vita” to Dubai. The concept recalls the famous “Dolce Vita”, the time when, in the fifties and Sixties of the 20th Century, Italy was flourishing. It was a time of joy, happiness, excitement, with a pure desire of enjoyment without concerns. At that time, Ferrari presented some of the most iconic cars in the history of automotive, the 250 Granturismos, the California, the 250 GTO, but also the 410 Superamerica, the 500 Superfast. Models that have become true icons, expression of beauty and refinement of design combined with exhilarating performance.
The new Ferrari Roma is a futuristic take of that era and those models. It is the perfect marriage of harmony, refinement, pure aesthetic form and the most advanced technologies. It embodies an extremely modern design language which underlines its authentic, refined styling.
We designed this car for the connoisseurs of timeless style and for the lovers of driving emotions on a daily use. This is a car for those who appreciate elegance, good manners and the thrill to live a full life. The Ferrari Roma is a real Granturismo in the purest form, a new iconic model with renovates the tradition of the most beautiful and sought-after Ferrari Granturismo. I am not really surprised by the success it is having in the Middle East and all around the world, it is just a wonderful car.
The Portofino M has been launched in September last year and is the latest evolution of the famous Ferrari Portofino, our versatile “2+” seater with retractable hard top. The ‘M’ in its moniker stands for ‘Modificata’, as a nod to the model’s progressions in design, performance, and everyday versatility. It is an authentic coupé with its top closed and a genuine spider when it is open, making ‘en plein air’ driving an exciting, rewarding and exhilarating experience. The Ferrari Portofino, as the California and California T before, enjoyed a tremendous success and the Portofino M just follows the same footsteps, with the same appeal to both those who are Ferrari owners and those who will be soon.
If you look at it from the customer’s lifestyle point of view, the Ferrari Roma and Portofino M are a perfect match for those who would like to drive a Ferrari even every day, whether going to the office, heading to the theatre or driving off to a weekend adventure. Both models showcase an impeccable design combined with the outstanding performance and emotion to drive that only Ferrari can provide.
It sounds like you have something for everyone.
Well, this is definitely correct.
But allow me to elaborate: there are ‘different Ferraris for different Ferraristi’, but also there are ‘different Ferraris for different moments’. Ferrari has a full range of models to suit every client profile and lifestyle, but also different occasions to drive.
There are Ferrari Roma and Ferrari Portofino, the two wonderful and versatile Granturismo models we just spoke about, the perfect combination of style, comfort and performance. But if you want a sportscar without compromise, then there are F8 Tributo and F8 Spider, models that combine aggressive and dynamic design with the power of the V8 Turbo engine and the typical engaging driving dynamics of the mid-rear engine architecture.
If you wish to realize the dream of driving a normally-aspirated V12 Ferrari, there are the 812 Superfast and its convertible version, the 812 GTS, which marks the return of the V12 spider in the model range 50 years after the Daytona. Models that are perfect for a weekend on the coast, but also for an exciting day at the racetrack.
Finally, we have our SF90 range, with the SF90 Stradale and the recently revealed SF90 Spider. We are talking about our first series production PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), featuring a V8 turbo engine capable of delivering 780 cv – the highest power output of any 8-cylinder in Ferrari history – and three electric motors delivering additional 220cv. These models are extreme on every level and offer unprecedented performance for a production car. Figures such as 1,000 cv, a weight-to-power ratio of 1.57 kg/cv and 390 kg of downforce at 250 km/h not only put the SF90 Stradale at the top of its segment, but also mean that a V8 is the top-of-the-range model for the first time in our history.
Last but not least, we have the 488 Challenge Evo, the perfect racing car for Gentlemen Drivers joining the Club Challenge or the Ferrari Challenge.
Ultimately, today we certainly have the most beautiful, innovative and widest range of products in our history. You just have to choose the right model for the “Ferrari moment” you wish to live.
Speaking of the SF 90’s, the SF90 Stradale and SF90 Spider – they have set new benchmarks for hybrid performance. Will hybrid engines be the norm for all newer models in the lineup?
Our commitment is on developing leading edge technologies to produce unique models able to offer outstanding performance and pleasure to drive in full compliance with the regulations in place. SF90 Stradale and SF90 Spider are the embodiment of this commitment, as the hybrid technology not only reduces consumptions and emissions but also supports the performance and the driving emotion.
Having said this, we are also committed on having nearly 60% of the models in production built around hybrid powertrains by the year 2022. But to know more, you will have to wait…
What role does electrification play in the brands vision for Ferraris of the future?
We are exploring all the different technologies that can help us be compliant with the current and future regulations, which are clearly focused on reducing emissions and consumptions. But we have a clear philosophy in our mind: we would like to use the tech in a way that can improve the performance and the fun-to-drive factor, not only help to be compliant with the constraints and regulations.
Sustainability is an area in which Ferrari has constantly been at the cutting edge. In this perspective, as said, we are committed on having the 60% of our model range featuring hybrid powertrains by next year.
What has been the effect of Coronavirus on luxury and sport car sales worldwide? And what was the measures taken by Ferrari to overcome it?
Well, I believe that no industry, no sector, no company was untouched. The pandemic has been and still is a challenge for everyone, from a professional or business standpoint and also from a personal standpoint.
The Luxury Sportscar segment makes no exception and most certainly sales volumes have been affected, not only because of the consequences of the pandemic on the economies at a macro and microeconomic level, but also because of its impact on consumer confidence and spending allocation. What is certainly to be highlighted is that, as it happened before in other phases of crisis, the luxury segment has been showing a higher degree of resilience and the slowdown in 2020 has been clearly limited compared to the mainstream and the mass market.
If I look at Ferrari, one of the key challenges due to the pandemic has been to keep the connection with our customers strong despite the limits and restrictions to events and activities that are at the core of the “Ferrari experience” we would like to offer them. Moreover, as a company we have been challenged to adapt to a new environment and to grant the best level of service to our clients while ensuring safety of every single touch point.
On the one hand, immediately in April 2020, we have launched the “Back on Track project” at a global level. A special program designed to ensure the safety of our people and our facilities, so that clients could visit showrooms and workshops or get their cars serviced in full confidence. On the other, we have also restarted events and activities as soon as it has been possible, in compliance with the regulations in the different countries and with the highest level of safety for the participants.
Allow me to say, if I look at the response of our clients, at the passion they have shown in the past months, at the numbers achieved last year in the region and worldwide, I can certainly be proud of what we have been able to accomplish in such a difficult year.
What can you reveal about Ferrari’s plans for 2021? Can we expect some new models to be unveiled this year?
2021 has already started as an exciting year. At the end of 2020 we revealed the SF90 Spider and the Portofino M and we are launching them in the Middle East as we speak, whilst we have recently started delivering the first SF90 Stradale and Ferrari Roma to our clients.
But there is more to come, as we have announced that three new models are coming this year. As you probably expect I can’t and I won’t say more, you just have to wait and see…