The portrait:
Mauro Forghieri

The portrait: Mauro Forghieri 01

“Furia” (literally, fury): someone with a nickname like that can only be strong-willed. A rebel even. To the point of convincing someone as tough as Enzo Ferrari to entrust him with the responsibility of the racing department: this is how, aged just 27, the legend of Mauro Forghieri began. He was not only the youngest number one of the Maranello team on the track, but he was also the only one to reach the Ferrari command deck straight out of university. Nobody else, in the history of Ferrari, has ever won as much as him: 17 world titles in the drivers and manufacturers championships, among Formula 1 and sports prototype racing.

"When the Drake informed me that I was to become the number one of his racing department - Forghieri explains - I confessed to him that I was afraid. Ferrari simply told me: you don't need to be afraid of anything, I've got your back. He taught me that you should never admit defeat, much less so before you've actually begun...".

Today "Furia" is over eighty years of age, but he still boasts the same spirit as ever, a drive that led him to triumph for 54 times in Formula 1 Grand Prix with Ferrari: he is head of his Oral Engineering Group, a leading company in the field of mechanical design (which can boast the creation of several prototypes, the first super-powerful engine used in Formula 1 by BMW and much more), which he set up following several experiences at Lamborghini, Bugatti, and Modena Team F1. 

The merits of Forghieri are endless, his technical intuition on the track legendary, but perhaps the most important thing that Furia did for the world of competitive racing was how he catapulted Formula 1 from the ancient world to its modern-day aerodynamic mastery. Indeed, it was 1968 when Forghieri arranged for a giant large spoiler, resulting from meticulous study, to make its début on Cris Amon's and Jackie Ickx's Ferraris. The result? Needless to say, the two drivers dominated the trials with record times. 

Il ritratto: Mauro Forghieri 02

Forghieri had revolution in his blood: “At Ferrari in 1962 – he explains, as he illustrates yet another one of his technical revolutions - they were all convinced that a sports car with a  V12 rear engine would be technical madness. ‘There's no way it can possibly work with all that weight at the back’, they claimed. And the Commander was among those who were most reluctant to change their mind. I was convinced of the opposite, and I suggested we produce a car with no more than 55% of the total weight at the rear. It was a bet - continues Forghieri - placed during the winter of 1962/63, but in the meantime John Surtees, a driver with considerable technical expertise had come on the scene, and he was in favour of the initiative…".

The rest is history. But what counts, in love stories as in professional ones, is how the idyll ends: When he bid farewell to Ferrari, Forghieri bequeathed the 408RM prototype for road use, the first four-wheel drive Ferrari, which was presented at the Detroit Auto Show in 1987. The car never went into production, but today four-wheel drive has made an appearance on the GT cars in Maranello. Once again, Furia had seen a long way.

Mauro Forghieri deserves a place among those who have (and who continue to) make automotive history, which is why the organisers of Motor Legend in Imola - an event supported by Pirelli - have involved him as a testimonial, among those who can state that they witnessed first-hand the best years of Italian sports cars.

Read more