Q&A with Formula Drift Driver Federico Sceriffo
Federico Sceriffo has spent more than two decades dedicated to drifting. He was one of the first Italian drift drivers, and one of the first in Europe, and now competes in the United States. Recognizing his excellence and dedication to the sport, it is easy to see why he was recruited to join team Pennzoil.
Drifting is a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers, with a loss of traction while concurrently maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner. This move causes the front wheels to point in the opposite direction of the turn the driver is taking. The move is also known in drifting as opposite lock or counter-steering.
On a professional level, Formula Drift is a United States-based motorsport drifting series consisting of an eight-round championship held at racetracks across North America. Compared to other professional motorsports divisions, Formula Drift drivers are judged based on the tricks and their style performed during the race instead of just the fastest time they finish.
Pennzoil met up with Federico Sceriffo to discuss how he got his start, his career, and building his relationship with the brand.
PENNZOIL: When did you know you wanted a career in motorsports?
SCERIFFO: I started dreaming of being a professional driver when I was young, probably about 10 or 11 years old. I originally dreamed of becoming a rally driver because drifting didn’t even exist at the time, it wasn’t invented yet!
PENNZOIL: What about before that? When did your love of cars begin?
SCERIFFO: When I was even younger, I used to always sit in my garage just staring at cars. I spent so much time in the garage. I loved learning how cars worked from my Father or family friends, helping take cars apart and put them together. Cars made me so excited as a kid and they still excite me today.
PENNZOIL: What was your first car?
SCERIFFO: A Volkswagen Golf. She was second-hand, but ready to rock!
PENNZOIL: When did you start racing?
SCERIFFO: When I was 19, I got to audition for a rally car team through a local race. Even though I was racing against professional drivers who were already signed to the team, I got the fourth fastest time. They offered me a spot on the team, but they only covered 80% of the expenses. I couldn’t afford the other 20% and had to put that dream on hold. I kept practicing with any cars I could get my hands on.
PENNZOIL: How did you discover drifting?
SCERIFFO: Six months after my rally car team audition, I discovered drifting on YouTube. This was in 2003 when it was just being invented and gaining support in Japan. It was like discovering there was a sport tailor-made for me because I always drove sideways. I always oversteered. I was in disbelief – I knew instantly that drifting was going to be my sport.
PENNZOIL: What was the beginning of your career like?
SCERIFFO: When I started, the sport wasn’t professional, so I was on my own in Europe; especially since I was the first Italian drifter! So I started competing in 2004 then went to Japan; to what I now think of as my second family –Team Orange. They basically adopted me for 9 years and made me into the drifter I am today.
PENNZOIL: You’re also a drifting instructor. How did you get into teaching at drifting school?
SCERIFFO: I have experience driving all over the world, from Europe to Asia and now in the United States. I have a Japanese driving style, which is something very special that I like to pass on to students. Since I love teaching and spending my days with people passionate and eager to learn about the sport, I decided to get my teaching certification in Japan in 2012. I currently teach in Atlanta which is also where I am based.
PENNZOIL: How has your style changed since competing in the United States?
SCERIFFO: Here the style has more showmanship, it is wild and rowdy! Drivers in the United States make every round a big showcase and entertain not only the judges, but the crowd as well. Formula Drift is very demanding in that sense. I am grateful to be on team FFF Drifting Department and to have the experience of competing here.
Sceriffo signing autographs for fans
PENNZOIL: What is it like drifting with a Ferrari?
SCERIFFO: It is always very special driving a Ferrari. I’m honored to be driving a Ferrari, especially as an Italian, it means a lot to me. I call her Fiorella. She’s so special and so alive, sometimes I think one morning she will be sitting up having a coffee. It’s her fourth phase, spec four, and it’s never performed at a higher level than it has this season.
PENNZOIL: How does Pennzoil help power your performance?
SCERIFFO: Pennzoil puts everything in a new direction, something I and the whole team can feel. With Pennzoil under the hood and as a partner, it gives you certain bravery and confidence in motorsports. We are running with one of Ferrari’s best engines, the V12 F140 engine. It has 1,120 horsepower! We feel confident to push it to the limit with Pennzoil.
PENNZOIL: Were you a fan of Pennzoil before this year?
PENNZOIL: As you know, Pennzoil has many great drivers in our family. If you could take anyone drifting who would it be?
SCERIFFO: Oh, definitely the F1 boys Charles LeClerc and Carlos Sainz I would love to take them drifting. They are used to driving straight, but I would love to see what they got!
Fans can next see Sceriffo and his Ferrari at the final round of the season being held in Irwindale, California on October 14th and October 15th, 2022.