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07 February 2012

Ferraris for Work, Jeeps for Fun: Alonso and Massa gets a pair of SRT8's

Words by Niky Tamayo | Photos courtesy of the Chrysler Group LLC
If your day job involves driving the fastest Ferraris in the most prestigious racing series the world has ever seen, you'd expect the perks to be among some of the best in the world. So, in a lead-up to the 2012 Formula 1 Season, Chrysler gave drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa a special pair of Jeep Grand Cherokees. While that may not sound like a very exciting prospect, consider that these are SRT8 models, equipped with a 6.4 liter 468 horsepower HEMI V8 and decked out in exclusive Ferrari Rosso Corsa paint and bespoke trim.
These might not be quite as quick as the new F2012, but the ability to scoot to 100 km/h in five seconds flat ensure they’re just about quick enough for anyone’s taste. The SRT8's are not one-trick ponies either, stopping shorter than a Subaru WRX STI and handling better than any SUV short of an X5M. These are the first two SRT8's in Europe, so Jeep figured it was a good idea to give them to a pair of special somebodies.
For those who might be wondering why hispanic drivers for an Italian racing team are receiving Germanic SUV's from an American manufacturer, then you should know that Jeep, a sub-brand of Chrysler, is now owned by the Fiat Group, which just happens to have a stake in Ferrari. And while Jeep is about as far removed from Formula 1 as any car manufacturer could be, the new SRT8 is hardcore enough to get a free pass.
Speaking of free passes, there’s no word if Felipe Massa’s unit has a “Fernando is faster than you” call button, but chances are good he’ll be too busy fighting over parking space with his 2011 arch-nemesis, Lewis Hamilton. The irony of this is that the McLaren star drives a Mercedes GL 320CDI, an SUV built on a platform shared with the Grand Cherokee. This is because, once upon a time, Mercedes owned Chrysler, which again, owns Jeep and is now owned by Fiat, which, in turn, owns Ferrari, which owns Felipe Massa.
Not that this should bother Massa too much, as Lewis’s GL doesn’t have Ferrari-red leather, carbon-fiber trim, bespoke 20-inch alloys or a big honking V8. But Ferrari owning you, body and soul?
Some of us wish we were that lucky.