One way or another it has been quite a fortnight to remember. San Francisco-London-Nice and on to the Beach Plaza Hotel in Monaco for the 33rd consecutive time. Same room, same view, same staff, wonderful. It is of course a complete madhouse during Grand Prix week but I still would not miss it for the World. This was my 52nd consecutive trip. At the beginning of the week I always use the much loved number 6 bus to get around the Principality. After Wednesday once practice starts the whole place comes to a standstill apart from the action on the track. We all know the result of course, simply perfect for Scuderia Ferrari. There was some arguments about whether Kimi should have won but with great respect Vettel was quicker and even though nobody says it he is the Number One driver. Will Ferrari keep Raikkonen? I have my doubts but it is early days yet.
Off the track the action was pretty fast and furious as well. There were parties galore on boats, discos, even on the beach. Of course the perfect weather helped as well.
My only problem was lack of transport. For the past12 years or so we have been flying to Modena to collect a new Maserati which we then drove at a nice, steady 75 miles per hour to Monaco. This of course is a total lie as speeding tickets have been arriving from the factory with monotonous regularity. At any rate this year we just couldn’t get there. Hail savior Randy Steyer who undertook the thankless task of driving the car all the way from Modena having just visited the Ferrari factory a stone throw away in Maranello. Although both he and his good friend John vehemently deny it I have a funny feeling that they might have had a quick dash round the circuit before getting to the hotel.
Funniest thing is that when Randy and Co arrived at the Beach Plaza they were treated to a cry of “ but it is the wrong color! “ The ever helpful bell captains got so used to a metallic bronze over the years that a deep metallic red took them by surprise. In Marin I normally get a Maserati Ghibli as a loan car while my Ferrari is getting serviced so I was familiar with it.
Having said that I did not expect 404 horsepower from the top of the range S 4Q which never missed a beat. I found the instrumentation excellent, quite frankly better than in Ferrari’s new Lusso which was the next car we were going to drive. There are just two things I would complain about in the Maser. Buckling up the safety belts is difficult and changing from P to D or P to R invariably ends up in neutral which is particularly embarrassing when one is trying to make a three point turn. I have to admit to a tricky moment. Randy and John rented a beautiful villa in the hills above Beausoleil in France.
As we stood outside my hotel I did the right thing asking if they would like a lift. Yes please was the answer and we were off. Either the Maser is wide or the streets are narrow but it was quite a hairy trip. I should add that it was pitch black. Anyway, the good news is that we arrived safe and sound. Enjoying the wonderful fresh air you certainly do not find in Monaco it suddenly dawned on me that in the great excitement I left my hotel without any ID, passport or even a cell phone. Had I been stopped-after all it was late and my car had a foreign (Italian) plate the consequences would have been too horrible to contemplate. To cut a long story short I got back and immediately texted Randy who too was somewhat concerned.
It is always wonderful to see the ever-helpful PR team at Maserati after one more perfect trip. The engine never missed a beat and the trunk swallowed all the luggage. I cannot think of a more pleasant highway cruiser in Europe or for that matter across the United States.
The navigation system was excellent, I would not have been able to get down the hill from Beausoleil.
At the risk of getting into trouble in Maranello the 400 thousand dollar (luggage included) Ferrari GTC4Lusso is less comfortable for 4 people. Regardless of whether it is a Ferrari or an Aston or any other fast 4 seater automobile with 2 doors climbing into the back has to be problematical. Once you are in the back of the Lusso it is like being in a gentlemen’s club. The children would certainly love the specially designed Ferrari baby seats, would love to see their faces as Daddy or Mummy rockets down the autostrada at 140 miles per hour. Have a funny feeling with the exceptional brakes the odd pacifier or two might just fly straight on to the dashboard. Getting to 140 in a genuine 4 seater is the domain of relatively few, the 0-62 mph figure is a stunning 3.4 seconds! I have been fortunate to know Ferrari’s legendary V12 engine for quite some time. 550, 575, 599, F12, FF and now the Lusso. When I look at this list I suddenly realize just how lucky I am!
The best bit of the trip was that my son Nicholas- a pretty decent driver-could not get away from me in Lamborghini’s latest Huracan cabrio. The 514lb-ft torque enable me to keep up on the twisties all the way up to Passo della Futa which sits at 903 meters. Glorious place. Glorious fun. More of the same next year I hope!