THE CAR towns of northern Italy have always been home to Amedeo Felisa. A native of Milan, he graduated from university there and joined Alfa Romeo - which was then based in the city. Felisa now lives in Modena, just 160km southeast of Milan.
As Ferrari group's chief operating officer, Felisa heads Ferrari and Maserati road-car activities. In his previous role as Ferrari technical director, Felisa managed to combine reasonable driving comfort with extreme performance, as exemplified by the new 575M. At Maserati, he helped mix high performance levels with superior sound insulation.
Felisa's next challenge is to implement Maserati's relaunch.
Outside of the Ferrari group, Felisa has diverse interests. He likes jazz, French vacations, German and British sports cars, and Finnish and American companies. He grew up with twin passions for computers and sailing.
Name: Amedeo Felisa.
Title: Chief operating officer, Ferrari group.
Previous job: Ferrari technical director. Before that, project manager for the 33 family at Alfa Romeo.
Lives in: Modena, Italy.
Languages: Italian, (rusty) French and (better) English.
Family: Married to Simona.
Education: Mechanical engineer, Milan polytechnic.
Countries lived in: Always Italy, except for a three-month post-graduate course in computer-aided design in the USA.
First job in the car business: In 1972 at Alfa Romeo research and development.
First car: A Triumph Spitfire bought from a friend, with a 1.5-liter engine in a 1.3-liter body.
What cars are in your garage? An Alfa Romeo 166 for me; a Fiat Punto for my wife.
What's in your car's CD player? Modern jazz such as Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong.
What cars have you most admired? Besides Ferraris, two Alfa Romeos - the 2000-2600 Sprint of 1960 and the Montreal of 1970 - plus the first-generation BMW M5.
What is your passion in life? Computers when I was young. Now automobiles.
What is your greatest achievement so far? The performance obtained by the Ferrari F355, a car heavily based on the 348.
Where do you get your best ideas? While driving.
What was your worst crisis in business so far?
At Alfa Romeo, when - at the eleventh hour - we missed a joint project with Pontiac. We had been working days and nights on the project.
What do you dislike about your job? Freezing a project, because you must stop developing possible new ideas.
Who do you admire within the auto business?
Three engineers: Rudolf Hruska (worked on the original prewar VW Beetle with Ferdinand Porsche; father of the Alfa Romeo Alfasud), Ferdinand Piëch and Orazio Satta Puliga (largely responsible for Alfa's postwar revival and Formula One success in the late 1940s).
What companies do you admire outside the car business? Microsoft and Nokia.
What do you do to relax? Reading, listening to music and driving.
What food do you like best? Italian food, mainly appetizers and pasta dishes.
Do you cook? Very little, basically spaghetti and scrambled eggs - but not together!
Your favorite restaurant? Trattoria Bianca in Modena.
Favorite holiday destination? Cote d'Azur, France.
Favorite films? Old movies with Sean Connery starring as James Bond.
What are your hobbies? Reading and watching TV. When I was young, I used to sail.
Do you work on weekends? On Saturday morning only. At home I just check my e-mail and read car magazines.
How would you describe yourself to others? Friendly, a good companion, maybe a little nervous.
What would like more of? More spare time, as I think I already work enough.
What is the next big thing in the auto business? Getting all the electronic control systems in the car to talk together to improve performance.
What business challenge do you face? To fully develop Maserati.