Forza Ferrari - the view from the cockpit of the famous brand

Arab News' Frank Kane puts the Ferrari F8 Tributo through its paces in Dubai. (AN Photo)
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Updated 24 June 2020

Forza Ferrari - the view from the cockpit of the famous brand

  • The master carmaker’s tribute to Italian style and power speeds you into Formula 1 territory

DUBAI: I think the gravity — no pun intended — of my situation hit home when Sep, the assistant at the Al-Tayer Ferrari showroom in Dubai, pointed to the feature on the dashboard display of the F8 Tributo that measures the g-force hitting your body as the supercar accelerates.

“People are impressed by that,” he said, before giving me a very personal demonstration of the power of the car when he put it into “launch” mode and took off down a thankfully empty side road.

I was immediately flattened against my seat by the sheer power of the vehicle — 0-100 kph in a few exhilarating seconds, with the 3.9 litre twin-turbo engine screaming like a fighter jet.


Ferrari, the famous Italian sports car maker, is about power, of course. In the driver’s seat, you are immediately conscious of the immense potency your right foot commands.

Just a little touch on the gas is enough to take you past virtually everything else on the road. Floor it, and you can imagine yourself in Formula One territory.

Just one little Ferrari moment: I’m at a red signal on King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Street, and a rival fast car model pulls up beside me. He looks at the Tributo, looks at me, and grips his wheel tightly with eyes fixed on the light. He wants a racing start.

When the signal changes, I let him get a few meters ahead, before gunning the gas and easily overtaking him in the next twenty meters. “Forza Ferrari!” I exclaim as I watch him recede in the rear view.

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READ MORE: Frank Kane's Big Interview - Ferrari accelerates in the Middle East — with a passion

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The Tributo is named in homage to the long tradition of Ferrari mid-engine sports cars known as “berlinetta” — two-seater coupes that go back to at least the 1970s. Unveiled last year in Geneva, it is the latest refinement in a class of supercars that Ferrari has made its own. Forget all the pretenders, there is only one Prancing Horse.

The one that I drove was not in classic Ferrari red, but rather in a more sophisticated silver. The body lines are aerodynamically elegant, while the bulging wheel arches and air-intakes give the car a muscular look to go with that 710 bhp engine. Long, sleek and powerful, it’s easily the sexiest car I’ve ever driven.

The designers at Maranello in Italy, the home of Ferrari where they are all built, call the interior the “cockpit”, and I felt like I was in a “Top Gun” movie. The cobalt blue leather harmonized with silvery graphite fixtures, and both contrasted nicely with the yellow Ferrari motif in the middle of the steering wheel.

This is oval shaped, reminiscent of a Formula One wheel, but probably also to allow you in and out of the car with some dignity.

This is definitely not a family car. There is cockpit room for you and your passenger, and behind you, close enough to make you jump when you gun the accelerator, is the engine. A Perspex cover shows off the bright red engine casing to any admirers — and there are plenty on the streets and hotel forecourts of Dubai.

On Sheikh Zayed Road, away from the speed bumps that you have to negotiate with care in such a low vehicle, the car seems to enjoy its natural high-speed environment. It can be difficult to stay within speed limits. The Tributo gets to 120 kph effortlessly, but you can tell it wants to go faster. It feels almost cruel to hold it back.

When Sep showed me the controls outside the showroom, he flicked into the computerized driving history. Although the car had only driven just over 100 km in its lifetime since arriving from Italy, it had managed to hit 295kph on one occasion.

Sep put that down to a Ferrari engineer putting it through its paces at a special track in Dubai. Imagine the g-forces from that little workout

Ferrari Italia is recovering well from the pandemic lockdown. At the height of the crisis the production lines at Maranello were turned over to ventilator manufacture, but now it is shipping cars again. The next big launch in the Middle East will be the Roma, which is designed to epitomize the “dolce vita” of the Eternal City.

Ferrari and eternity are fitting companions. There will always be the Prancing Horse.


Kate Beckinsale matches Georges Chakra gown with custom mask

Updated 29 September 2020

Kate Beckinsale matches Georges Chakra gown with custom mask

DUBAI: Actors, models and socialites brought their fashion A-game to this year’s Monte Carlo Gala for Planetary Health in Monaco this week. 

Hosted by the Monégasque Royal Family, Prince Albert II and his glamorous wife, Princess Charlene, the event brought together a host of A-listers on the terraces of the Opera Monaco to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems for the future of humanity.

Among the guests in attendance was British actress and model Kate Beckinsale, who turned heads wearing a gown from Beirut-based designer Georges Chakra. The white gown, which was plucked from the designer’s Fall 2019 couture collection, featured a one-shoulder cut with an asymmetric cape, as well as dazzling gold embellishment. 

The British actress wore a Georges Chakra gown at the 2020 Monte Carlo Gala for Planetary Health. Getty Images

When it came to her hair, Beckinsale opted to pull it back into a voluminous updo letting loose a few face-framing strands. As for her makeup, the 47-year-old kept it simple, going for a sun-kissed complexion, a golden smokey eye and pink lipstick.

The mother-of-one accessorized her show-stopping look with a pair of dazzling diamond earrings by Anabela Chan. 

As one of the first major international red carpet events to take place after the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic in early spring, guests had to be extra cautious. Attendees all arrived at the socially-distanced event wearing facemasks.

The “Underworld: Evolution” star paired her couture gown with a matching custom mask. AFP
 

However, for Beckinsale, her choice of facemask wasn’t just about safety, hygiene and comfort, but an extension of her glamorous outfit. The “Underworld: Evolution” star had the Lebanese couturier custom-make a face mask out of the same material as her red carpet dress. The cloth mask even featured the same gold sequin detailing as the dress. 

Other guests at the gala included British singer Sting, who was the evening’s honoree, joining previous recipients Leonardo DiCaprio, Orlando Bloom and Robert Redford.

Former “X Factor” winner Leona Lewis took to the stage to perform. AFP

Hollywood stars Helen Mirren, Sienna Miller, Johnny Depp and Rebel Wilson, model Alton Mason and designer Tommy Hilfiger were also at the event in Monaco. Meanwhile, former “X Factor” winner Leona Lewis took to the stage to perform.

Funds raised to-date support marine conservation programs, the expansion of protected areas and efforts to combat ocean acidification and plastic pollution.