Enzo Ferrari's only surviving son Piero talks about life, racing and Ferrari cars

When it comes to famous last names, few are as emotive and celebrated as his. Yet, as the sole remaining son of the late Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, Mr Piero Ferrari is a man seldom in the limelight.

The Ferrari heir is vice-chairman of the company, which he has a 10 per cent stake in. Working alongside his father in the 1970s, he oversaw the production of road cars before overseeing Ferrari's successful racing division.

Today, he has taken a more ambassadorial role. Besides being the company's figurehead, he is also vice-chairman of a bank as well as an aerospace company.

But his main love and priority will always be his family business. Life! caught up with the 69-year-old for a rare interview recently.

What qualities does one need to have to work for Ferrari?

To work here, you need to know you are part of a team.

We do not have a large workforce, but everyone is dedicated 100 per cent to the company. And we have passion. If you ask everyone who works here - from the chairman to the last employee - you'll see the same passion in everyone.

Which Ferrari road and race car best describes the essence of the company?

Our next car. We create technologically advanced cars with style and emotion, so we always look forward to the future.

If I had to choose a race car, it would be the Ferrari P4. It didn't win Le Mans, but it was a historic car for us. Only one exists today.

Is there a particular race or championship you look back on with fondness?

The passion of my father and me has always been F1.

The victories at our home track in Monza, Monte Carlo and even Silverstone, where we had our first F1 win, are always special.

Le Mans is special too because it has helped us build our history and image. But we have to concentrate our efforts on winning just one. It's not like before, where you can win both championships at the same time.

Name two F1 drivers, past and present, you want in your F1 dream team.

For present drivers, I prefer not to answer. But if I must, it will have to be our current drivers (Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen).

From the past, John Surtees and Michael Schumacher.

Surtees because he was a special talent who won titles on both two wheels and four, and Michael because he was the perfect driver - fast in qualifying and fast in the race. And he always gave 100 per cent to the team.

Do you still enjoy watching F1? Or do you prefer racing in the old days?

I always concentrate on the present. Like my father always said, the past is gone, written in the history books.

We're living in the present and the only thing we can change is the future. Concentrate on it, not look back at what happened.

How does the current vision of the company compare to your father's?

It's not much different. The cars we've been producing over the years speak for themselves.

Today's management is completely focused on the end result. It is important to stay positive and look ahead. If he were alive, my father would be very pleased to see how far we have come.

What is the most important advice your father gave you, one that you still follow?

To look forward and constantly improve even when you are winning. You cannot afford to relax and rest on your laurels.

This is harder to do when you are winning because when you lose, you know more or less your weak points and can improve. Winning can make you complacent. This applies to the company as well as racing.

Do you think your father's style of leadership would work in today's world? What would he have done differently?

As a boss, my father was very committed, very straightforward and direct. He could be a bit difficult at times, but he was never political.

In a way, his leadership style is still valid today. I don't think he would change a thing. He did what he could at that time to get things done.

Tell us something about your father most people don't know about.

Everyone thought my father was a very tough and rude man.

But he actually enjoyed helping people without publicising it. Many people have written to me after his death saying how he helped them in one way or another.

Once he secretly gave a radio to an employee in jail (which was a big deal at the time).

What is your favourite part of the job and what keeps you awake at night?

I love to see our cars go from being a sketch on a piece of paper all the way to the final product.

It's like a piece of art and all the people involved are artists. This is what I enjoy the most.

I don't sleep so much anymore. It has to do with age more than anything else. The stress has always been there. I've been living with it all my life.

If you hadn't followed in your father's footsteps, what would you have done?

Definitely not racing for sure. Maybe I would have bought a farm in the countryside and led a simple life.

Do you think you would make a good race car driver?

Probably not. I have a good feel for cars but my father gave everyone strict orders not to let me even sit in a racing car when I was younger.

Racing was very dangerous back then and he wanted to protect me at all cost.

Your father famously said that a racer loses one second a lap for every child he has. Was that why he quit racing himself?Yes. That is one of the reasons why he retired from racing.

But this theory was based on himself more than anything. Schumacher had two kids when he was racing and he was still quick.

What makes a good race car driver?To be a champion, you need to use your head to understand the situation every lap of the race.

Having natural ability isn’t enough. Even if you are the fastest, most talented driver in the world, but you do not use your brain, you will never be champion.

Racers like Schumacher and Niki Lauda had these qualities.

If you had to pick one road-going Ferrari to best describe you, what would it be?

The Ferrari F12. It’s incredibly versatile and fast on both road and track.

How would you like to be remembered?

You have to ask my friends when I’m gone. But I would like to be remembered as someone who was loyal to the DNA of the company and the legacy of my father.

What is your dream road trip?

I want to drive a Ferrari California with the top down across Route 66 in America. It is a hippie dream I have had since the1970s, and I would like to realise it some day.