“My racing career started with karting when I was only 4 years old, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I got inspired to start karting because of my father, who started his professional racing career in 2007. He would have me sit with him to run a few laps together. A year later, my father gifted me my first go-kart and I’ve been racing ever since.
Through the years, I have participated in many championships and traveled to different states around Brazil to compete. I’ve been challenged numerous times by my rivals due to my gender in a sport that is primarily dominated by males. It was crucial for myself and those around me to never let that stop me.
In 2022, when I moved to Italy for my studies at the European School of Economics in Florence, I took a break from racing to focus on my education. However, my dedication for the sport has not diminished. While aiming to combine my business studies with my passion for this sport, I was able to get my first-year internship at EuroInternational.
EuroInternational Group is considered an elite racing team in Italy, winning 44 championship titles across the United States and Europe. My internship experience with EuroInternational was amazing! It allowed me to understand the industry better and see how teams work from a business point of view. I feel an immense sense of gratitude towards ESE and the CEO and Head Engineer of the team, Antonio Ferrari, for the opportunity to learn from them and further explore my interest.
One day during my internship, I sat down with Antonio Ferrari, CEO, Engineer and Leader of the EuroInternational Group racing team, and conducted an interview to further understand how he manages his team and to gain further insight on the industry.
I asked Antonio how he started his career and came to lead his first team: “I started in this industry a long time ago, in 1989. I was an engineer already and had worked for other teams. I went to America to become manager and engineer with a team in the Indy championship. After 2 races that Indy team fell apart, so I took over and became team manager. I was successful within the Indy 500 Championship and with the money I gained, I purchased the team”
When I asked Antonio Ferrari what his most memorable race or championship was, he responded without a doubt: the 1999 Le Mans Series. The European Le Mans Series is an endurance championship for cars such as the ‘Le Mans prototype’ and ‘Le Mans Grand Touring’. ELMS’ aim is to give teams the opportunity to race a full season throughout Europe’s legendary tracks rather than only the famous “24 heurs du Mans.” Drivers interested in competing in the FIA world endurance series consider ELMS as an ideal training field since the same equipment is used to compete on the international level. I asked Antonio what made this series so memorable for him:
“I found out on Friday night that due to unexpected measures imposed by the French law, we were no longer able to use our car for the Paul Ricard track. I had to get a last-minute loan to rent another car that had never been on a race. We prepared the car overnight and qualified on Saturday morning with our first race. We were in the lead almost all the time, until one of the drivers got a cramp in his leg at the very end and we finished second.
We didn’t have our car anymore, so I had to rent a car for every following race. In the second race in Monza, one of the drivers completely destroyed the car. As a consequence, we didn’t qualify and started last in 43nd place, but due to great strategy we were able to win the race and we were leading the championship.
Then we had another race in Barcelona where we had pole position. With one more lap to go, the engine blew up due to the excess of heat. At that point we had already raced half of the championship, so the only possibility we had in order to win the championship was if we won all the remaining races.
We went to Silverstone in England and we won the race there because Mikkel Jensen drove in wet conditions with dry tires – a fantastic strategy! The following race was in Spa, where we were 3rd in the last lap with 4 seconds behind the leaders. In one lap, in the last corner, Mikkel Jensen was able to pass the second and the third drivers, which made us win the race again.
At the final race in Portimao we had exactly the same points as the other teams, so we knew we just had to finish in front of them in order to win. Mikkel started the race and he was leading, but a big accident happened and there was a red flag. We got unlucky having the bronze driver driving almost all the race. We respected the track limits, but the other team didn’t and received a 16-second penalty… resulting in our win. It was an amazing championship!”
Antonio Ferrari has celebrated lots of successes in his career, winning 246 races and 44 championships in total. But as in any industry, there are challenges that you have to face and obstacles to overcome in order to remain successful. I asked Antonio Ferrari what the biggest challenge has been for him within the motorsport industry. He replied:
“The major issue has always been being able to find the funds to go forward. I have always invested all the money in the team, looking for better performance, more stability, newer equipment and so on. Especially when I came back to race in Europe after the Indy car championship in America, I also experienced quite some issues with payments, such as drivers who didn’t pay for crash damages. One of the biggest challenges to overcome has often been to recover from the money lost due to breach of agreement from the drivers.”
In the Introduction to Management class during my first year of Bachelor studies, the topics of success and what skills are needed to achieve and measure success, have been brought up a few times. Given EuroInternational’s successful history, I was curious to understand how they measure success. Antonio Ferrari responded:
“Experience is essential for success and it’s measured by the results. I’ve always chosen to compete in top championships only. When you face the biggest team in the business and you win against them, that’s how you can measure success.
It’s also about the goals and challenges you set for yourself. I really enjoyed going to India to run a championship there. I liked to run in the Superleague Formula sponsored by the soccer teams Corinthians and Atletico de Madrid in 2008, that was a big opportunity for me and a new challenge. Another hard championship we faced was when we decided to do Formula 3 in America, but with the team’s hard work we were able to win every race. When I decided to change from World Series to Formula BMW some people questioned why I would do that, but it turned out to be one of the biggest successes. Formula BMW has been a fantastic championship with top drivers that are now in Formula 1.
I set a lot of goals in my life and when I reach them, that’s what I call success.”
In my first year Introduction to Business class, we discussed different types of approaches when making business decisions. I was curious to know what the important decisions were that Antonio had to make as a racing team owner and manager, and how he approaches decision-making in general. Antonio Ferrari replied:
“The most important decisions are made at the beginning of the year, when you decide on the drivers. Most of the times you don’t actually get to decide much, you deal with what the market offers. This year we are in the situation where we actually run 2 cars. For one of the cars, I made the mistake of not following my instincts when selecting a driver. Instead of listening to my gut feeling at the beginning of the year, I put trust a person that is no longer with the team now and creating a problem with the budget.
During the season, the decisions you take are normally based on experience, whether it’s a financial or technical decision.”
One major point in my first year at ESE Florence was understanding that in order for businesses to be successful, they need to be able to adapt to continuous change, whether it’s in their internal or external environment. I asked Antonio Ferrari how he stays up-to-date on the latest developments in the racing industry and what resources he relies on for information:
“Since I need to find both drivers and sponsors, it’s essential to stay up to date with the industry on many different levels. I follow what the drivers publish on social media and I keep track of the trends, so I can deal better with their managers. From a technical view point, I continuously study to understand what better setups and solutions we can find for the car to improve performance. We run a homologated LMP3 car in the European Le Mans Series which prevents us from adding new parts – we can only use what we have and try to make that better. Therefore, I concentrate on buying new equipment, such as our new telemetry system, to help improve our performance. In my perception we are very good during the race, but there is room to improve during the 3 to 4 laps in the qualifications.”
Given Antonio Ferrari’s extended expertise in the field, I wanted to end the interview asking him what advice he would give someone that is interested in pursuing a career in racing or motorsports:
“My best advice is to not focus on the money aspect right away, but to try to get in the team and learn as much as you can. Being in the team is what teaches you the most, it gives you the opportunity to grow, it opens doors for you. What you learn in School or University is not enough, you should learn and experience as much as you can in the field. This is not only true for racing, but also for life in general. By being committed to doing and experiencing everything you can, you’ll gain space in an organization, which ultimately leads to making money.”
Through my internship at EuroInternational, I was able to learn more about business management and in particular how a racing team is run. I felt very welcomed by every member of the team, whether it was Antonio Ferrari himself or Loretto Andrea, Mattia, Edoardo, Gilles or all the mechanics, engineers and drivers. With the help of Antonio’s commentary on his business and the lectures from ESE, I was able to connect what I had learnt in class and with the real world and I am immensely grateful for this.”