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Kaspersky: Supporting & Racing F1 and GT Ferraris

From your Associate Editor Keith Bluemel

The name Kaspersky may well be familiar to Ferrari F1 fans as one of the team’s sponsors, developing from a relationship that started in 2010, with the company’s name currently appearing on the top and sides of the nose cone, plus body panels of the F1 cars, together with company branding on the team’s clothing.

The company are specialists in cyber security, and with the constantly increasing global threat of malware and targeted attacks, Kaspersky and Ferrari came together to protect the latter’s IT security. This is of paramount importance in all aspects of its business, from the production facility in Maranello to its F1 cars running in locations all around the world. As an example, during a single F1 race around 600 GB of telemetry data is collected, which is simultaneously transmitted to the headquarters in Maranello and also processed at the race location, in a dedicated mobile server room containing no less than 30 computers. Obviously, this data is of immense value to the team, and Kaspersky Lab play an active part in securing it, and are thus an integral part of the Ferrari team.

Further than being a sponsor and active part of the F1 team, they also support young upcoming drivers in the Ferrari Driver Academy, and entered GT racing in 2016. Initially this was with a Ferrari 458 GT3 in the AM class in the Blancpain series, and at the end of the season with a 488 GT3 in the PRO class in the International GT Open series.

For 2017, apart from continuing in the International GT Open series in the AM Class, they have committed to a full season of Blancpain Endurance Cup races with a stellar driver line-up of Giancarlo Fisichella, James Calado and Marco Cioci with a 488 GT3 as their weapon of choice. All three drivers have a wealth of experience in various fields of motor sport between them, particularly Giancarlo Fisichella, with his lengthy F1 career, so there is every reason to expect some great results during the season.

The first round of the 2017 Endurance Cup series was at Monza, where the Kaspersky 488 finished 4th overall, so an encouraging start to the season. Round 2 was at Silverstone, where courtesy of Daria Marina, the team’s Motorsport Communication & PR Manager, I was able to have a few words with Giancarlo Fisichella and James Calado.

I first asked Giancarlo the question that he had probably been asked thousands of times – How difficult was the transition from a F1 car to a GT car? “Initially the 458 GT2 car felt slow and unwieldy with much longer braking distances, but you soon adapt to the machinery at your disposal, and I have been driving 458s, and more recently 488s, since 2010, so their performance feels natural to me now.”

You also drive for Risi Competizione in the IMSA series in the USA, will you be able to compete in all rounds of both series? “Fortunately there are no date clashes, so I will be able to do the full Blancpain Endurance Cup series with Kaspersky and the IMSA series with Risi.”

Turning to James, I asked how he came from being a competitor in the GP2 single seater series to being a Ferrari GT driver? “The GP2 series came to an end, and I had no budget for F1, then somebody must have noticed my performances in GP2 as I was invited to a shoot-out test session for a Ferrari drive, which I won, so here I am.”

You are also driving for AF Corse in the FIA WEC series, so I assume that as with Giancarlo and his IMSA commitments, there are no date clashes? “That is correct, the races with Kaspersky in the Blancpain Endurance Cup and with AF Corse in the FIA WEC series dovetail nicely. In the FIA WEC series it is great to be part of the Ferrari-Ford battle, which is a re-enactment of the duel in the sixties, albeit in a different class.”

With AF Corse you are driving a 488 GTE and with Kaspersky you are driving a 488 GT3, is there much difference between the two models? “They are very different cars, the GTE model is much quicker and more responsive, as the regulations for that class give greater freedom for development. The GT3 cars are governed much more in what can be done in terms of development, so they are closer to the road car in that sense, but both are enjoyable to drive. The GTE car doesn’t have ABS, which I prefer, as I feel that it puts more emphasis on the skill of the driver under braking.

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Images from Keith Bluemel.

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