A group of 100 college students were asked a simple question. Two teams, A and B, are facing off in a best-of-seven series. Team A is highly favoured to win. Who would you root for? Eighty-one per cent of the students chose the underdog, according to a 1991 study by two sociologists named Jimmy Frazier and Eldon Snyder.
In other words, most people choose to set themselves up for disappointment. This explains why Leafs tickets are constantly sold out.
But why not root for the favourite, the overdog? Maybe because if team A wins it’s no great victory. If they lose, it’ll be disastrous, embarrassing. If team B wins, it’s glorious, heroic. If they lose, well, no sweat, they didn’t have a real chance anyway. Rooting for the underdog means you have less to lose and more to gain.
Where does this leave the favourites and the winners?
Ferrari’s Formula 1 team is the most successful in history, with 16 Constructors’ Championships, and 224 race wins from 907 starts. Even when they’re losing, as they did last year, coming in second, you know they’re just building up to greatness again. Their dominance feels inevitable.
Similarly, Ferrari’s road car business has been dominating the market. The company only makes around 7,000 cars
per year, ensuring demand far outstrips supply. There are rumours that to even be offered the privilege of spending hundreds of thousands on a limited-edition Ferrari — like an F12tdf or a LaFerrari — you must already have a garage full of Italian Stallions.
To drive Ferrari’s latest sports car, the 488 Spider, in its native Italy is to know what it’s like to be on Team A, to play on the winning side. And you know what? It feels good.
The 488 Spider feels right the moment you open its door and settle down into the leather-and-carbon cocoon of a cabin. Imagine sitting in one. No, sorry, you’re wrong: the seats are more comfortable than you just imagined. The steering wheel is small, and covered in a myriad of important-looking switches. Hold the button that says ENGINE START and one of the world’s great motors wakes up with a bark.
Unlike previous V8 engines in Ferrari convertibles, this one is turbocharged. It’s a nod to ever-more stringent fuel economy rules, yes, but it also makes the car better: more drivable in traffic, and more ballistic on a mountain road. Gravity is no object. Horsepower is up to 661 and the 0-100 km/h time is down to three seconds flat. You may hear car geeks argue turbocharging ruins everything — ignore them; these are backwards-looking people.
Through the rough country roads of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, past vineyards and centuries-old churches, the Ferrari is nothing short of perfect. The 488 Spider’s performance is exciting and accessible in a way no other sports car can quite match. Want to feel like a driving god and powerslide out of a hairpin in a blaze of smoking-rubber glory? The 488 makes it possible. Want to feel the good life, to cruise slowly through towns and villages in unmatched style? Go right ahead. It even makes parallel parking easy. How many other $300,000 cars can you say all that about? (“None” is the correct answer.)
A driver will quickly realize there is, in fact, nothing the Ferrari 488 Spider is bad at. It is the Meryl Streep of cars; the Batman and Superman of convertibles.
And yes, that makes this Ferrari — all Ferraris — the overdogs, the undisputed favourites. And yes, that means it’s only natural to look elsewhere for your sports car needs, to seek out other brands that might upset this dynasty. But many have tried, and none have succeeded. If your own money is on the line, do you still bet on the underdog? When you’re ready to play on the winning team, Ferrari will be there.