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Luca Dal Monte: a man between F1, writing and cinema

Written by Stefania Demasi, Ginevra Stanghellini and Francesca Zito
Translated by Cristina Mazzotti

Mult1formula had the opportunity to have a chat with Luca Dal Monte, a well-known writer in the automotive world. One of his masterpieces is Enzo Ferrari’s biography, called Ferrari Rex, which inspired a tv series that will be available on Apple TV soon.

photo credits to funoaialisitecnica.com

Who is Luca Dal Monte?

Luca Dal Monte comes from Cremona and has worked with automotive brands for his whole career; recently he’s been working for Maserati as Press Officer Chief. He made his first steps with Peugeot and then he gained more experience with Toyota Italy and Pirelli, “sadly in the period when Pirelli didn’t work for F1 yet”— says Dal Monte.

He published his first book in 2000 with Umberto Zapelloni, with whom he worked on three other books during the following years. His first solo book was published in 2004 and the first novel was out in 2009. His most successful book is Ferrari Rex, Enzo Ferrari’s biography. It had such a great success in Italy and even overseas. As a matter of fact the books rights were sold abroad and it is ready to be translated.

Recently the cinematographic rights have been purchased by Nicola Giuliano and Lorenzo Mieli. They started to work on a tv series, screenplayed by Steven Knight that will be released on Apple+.

The passion for motors and writing 

He has to thank Ferrari for his passion: “If you are Italian” — says Dal Monte —“You cannot think of not supporting Ferrari, especially if you were born in the same period as I was”.

He started falling in love with this sport during the 70s, where at the time Enzo Ferrari was still socially active. “Having a person like him in Italy,  who’s fame had reached the Pope’s ” — Dal Monte refers to him as the Secular Pope — “he wasn’t afraid to speak out in order to defend his drivers and his cars, he was amazing ”.

The writer states that it was inevitable to grow up in Italy and not love F1; in his case, being a journalist, he tried writing books to see what would come out of it.

The first was called “La rossa e le altre/ The red one and the others” and it was a careful examination of the first fifty years of F1, published by Umberto Zapelloni. 

photo credits to motori.ilgiornale.it

His passion towards writing began in a different way: he had always loved writing, but at a certain point he came out with the idea of writing a book with Zapelloni.

What I always try to do” — says Dal Monte — “is to find subjects that allow me to wander”.

He also stated that his books aren’t that technical because he always tries to focus on the human aspect: the satisfaction of a win and the emotions of a missed victory.

The love for the 70’s F1

The 70’s are the years where Luca Dal Monte has started following F1. “When a person starts wondering through the history of F1, they discover that during the 70’s everything was much simpler rather than nowadays F1” explained us Dal Monte.

Inevitably, not everything would go as expected. You’d go to Monza and there weren’t those big sponsors that would take you to the Hospitalities like there is now. But with you own ticket you could get close to the paddock where you would see drivers passing by”. He also told us that he found a picture of the South Africa Grand Prix in 1968/69 where the Brit Graham Hill, two-times world champion (1962,1968), was joking and laughing at the bar with two spectators after his race. Dal Monte underlines the fact that before there was more of a human relationship unlike nowadays where a more detached behavior has become the normality.

Modern F1 according to him

At the question “Which are the characteristics of modern young F1 drivers that are different to the past ones?

Dal Monte answers “Nowadays young talented drivers, in my opinion, are the one who can share the same characteristics as drivers from the 70’s”.

The writer explains that there are drivers who get to F1 thanks to their hard work and passion, because in the end it pays off. In addition he made us notice that during those times it was the driver who decided whether to race or not, or there would be a constructor, like: Lord Esketh, who decided to spend his own family fortune to build a racing car. Dal Monte explains that right now this would be an impossible dream because huge investments are required. 

According to him there are British drivers like Russel and Norris that nonetheless would have existed in the past.

The relationship with the US

Dal Monte has also talked about his experience in the USA.

“I moved there in 1992 for my last year of high school, and then as an exchange student”. Instead of coming back to Italy he stayed there: he said that he’d call home only twice a week and everything was different from before. “I did it so that I could have something different from the others” confirms Dal Monte, “and in the moment I would come back home, if I wanted to be a journalist, I would’ve had that something more in my CV that others didn’t.” All of that worked out, when he was called by Peugeot Italy who offered him a position as Press Officer Chief.

The friendship with Umberto Zapelloni

Many are the collabs he had with Zappelloni on writing books : “The nice thing is that in the moment we’re writing, we are the same  when we started” says  Dal monte.

We have a very similar writing-style, so it is difficult to find out who wrote certain chapter”.

He told us it s always been an easy process, because working closely with Zapelloni was never difficult. 

Together, they wrote a total of five books, the last published one, in 2021, being about Gilles Villeneuve.

The idea of the book about Enzo Ferrari: the will to show the human side 

Dal Monte’s idea was to create a biography that didn’t talk about Ferrari from everyone’s point of view, but from a point of view that showed the person behind the Drake.

Luca Dal Monte hates the stereotypes and he wanted to delete them from every person’s mind. An example, the fact that Enzo Ferrari used to always wear black sunglasses: “Enzo used to always have black sunglasses, he always had them on after a certain moment in his life, but there’s an explanation for this”.

I had the opportunity to talk with some sources from Modena — such as the historical press officer and Ferrari’s drivers/chauffer — working in Modena for Maserati and I had the chance to enter in the closest sphere of the character.

The different people he met knew Ferrari during different moments and for the same question, Dal Monte didn’t find the same answer. 

“In this way you start discovering the private side of the person” confirms the writer. He doesn’t want to tell Enzo Ferrari’s secrets, but only to speak about the man who was, in most truthful way.

When you write a book  you read it so many times that once it’s published you don’t read it anymore. And it’s a bummer for a series of reasons. But sometimes I read  some of its chapters again, especially the ones where nothing happens, but there is only Ferrari at 40,50,70 years old. I try to make some self-examination. So maybe during that specific chapter nothing happens, but it helps me to understand the man”.

The news on the Apple TV series:”it feels like a dream…but it’s all true”

The news regarding the series of Enzo Ferrari taken from the biography written by Dal Monte, on Apple TV have recently come out. So, we asked how the proposal arrived and the emotions felt in the moment. “ an email from Hollywood came… It felt like being in a movie, but it was all true. Ferrari Rex’s book had only been out for a few weeks and someone named Giulio Marantonio – who is one of the executive producers of the series, who works with Nicola Giuliano and Lorenzo Mieli – sent me an email telling me who he was and asking me if I was interested in selling the cinematographic’s rights. Obviously, I was interested ”.

Marantonio had been looking for a subject about Ferrari for quite some time and had read on the newspapers about the biography written by Dal Monte, which boasted 1100 pages. He had called the publishing house, thinking there was a mistake in the number of pages reported. But there was nothing wrong with it. So, being in Los Angeles, he made sure the book was sent to him from Italy; he read it, he liked it and wanted to talk to the author.

The meeting in Rome and a nice background

The first meeting concerning the series was with Giulio Marantonio and Nicola Giuliano – oscar prize for “The Great Beauty”. In this occasion, he told us a nice anecdote: “I remember the first meeting in Nicola’s office in Rome, I said to myself ‘if there is an Oscar somewhere, pretend like nothing happened‘. When I entered the office, the Oscar was exactly on top of Nicola’s head and after a minute I told him… ‘Can I touch it? It’s not really the most professional thing when you are talking about work. From there we began a wonderful working relationship and friendship that is now leading us to the realization of the series “.

When asked what he felt when the news were released, he replied “So many things… it’s crazy“.

He knew the news would have come out, because they had called him the week prior and he had been on the phone with Giulio. He knew it would be out by the end of July, but he didn’t know the exact date.

The first article that was sent to him was the one by Variety. Then the English press arrived, then in Italy the first newspaper to report it was Ansa. Then the newspapers in Spain, France … “We all panicked a bit, but it was a beautiful thing of course“.

For him it was an amazing moment and after more than twenty years of career he found himself completely unprepared.

A lot of Made in Italy in the Series Team

Then, the pride of the team behind the scene: Steven Knight, Sorrentino, Sollima. A team with a great italian participation and where Dal Monte himself plays an important role: he is the historical consultant of the series. He has to make sure that everything reported on the small screen matches what actually happened.

“Crazy thing”, he repeats over and over. He seemed to still be in disbelief about everything that was happening

Expectations for the series and the probable consequences for the future of his career

“At the moment, TV series are what works better of everything, they are even better than cinema, they go viral. In my opinion, the great strength of the TV series is that you don’t have the hour and a half, hour and forty or two hours of a movie. You have more hours and you can better develop and deepen the characters. In this case, starting with Enzo Ferrari, I’m sure the Ferrari name has a crazy echo, just look at how the news of the series have spread all over the world. Clearly, with the growth of streaming platforms, it will also reach people who had never bothered to see who Enzo Ferrari actually was, his real story ”. This is what Luca Dal Monte said when we asked about the expectations he had for the series and if he thinks it can help to make the character of Enzo Ferrari even more known to the world.

Then he hopes that the series will also have a good impact on his career as a writer. The world of cinema and TV series opens a huge stage and the name associated with the series in question is his, being the author of the book from which the producers are taking inspiration. It is a very remarkable thing, according to Dal Monte, and that should have good repercussions on his future.

The book on Villeneuve and promotion in Canada: the thrill of being in Gilles’ beloved places.

A while ago, Dal Monte was in Canada promoting his book on Gilles Villeneuve. It was for him a beautiful experience. He got to talk to Gilles’ wife and told us how speaking about him with the woman felt almost unreal.

It was insane for him, because even tho in the books he tries to be objective, he is still a fan. He grew up with the character of Gilles. “We talked about the current Formula 1 and how Canada has a great passion for Ferrari. He was really nice“he said, clearly happy.

The charm of the present

Among our curiosities there was also the one of knowing which driver would like to talk about between those currently on the grid. “Leclerc” he replies without even thinking about it for a second. “He is a great characterThey do all sorts of things to him and he doesn’t complain, he goes down his road, he has this way of acting… there are some of his colleagues who never go down well with anything. They thank everyone at the end of the race, but they don’t always have this same gratitude and humanity when things don’t go well. Think about Montecarlo, what happened happened, he went out of the car and went to thank the team and it almost seemed to be him who comforted the mechanics one by one. A beautiful character, never over the top” he continues, explaining why he appracietes the driver and why he would talk about him in a biography. He then adds that he also likes Russell and Norris of the current riders – as he had already mentioned at the beginning of the interview.

An advice from the heart

At the end of the interview we asked what could be the most sincere advice to young guys who love journalistic and non-journalistic writing and Motorsport.

To never stop, to keep going. If they want to write, then write. The extraordinary thing, even looking at you who are very young… is that in my time something like this would’ve never been possible. There were crazy filters, there was only newspaper, TV or radio and you couldn’t have the stage that your generation can have. Do not waste this opportunity because in my time it did not exist. Today, of course, there is much more competition. But there is always room for those who want to do something. You also need a little bit of luck but you have to believe in it “. That’s what he answered to us.

We can only keep these precious words as a treasure and thank Luca Dal Monte once again for telling us about his work, Enzo Ferrari story and what the future holds for him with the TV series. We wish him all the best for his career hoping – who knows – to speak again in the future.

Multiformula

Multiformula è un blog nato nel 2020 per condividere la nostra passione per il motorsport, dare spazio a quelle categorie come le Feeder Series di cui si parla ancora poco e soprattutto abbattere i pregiudizi che si incontrano in queste categorie.

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