A few minutes earlier I'd been driven around Fiorano at Mach 6 in the new Ferrari 458 Speciale, first by Ferrari's unfeasibly talented test driver, Raffa De Simone, and then just for good measure by ex F1 driver-cum-Maranello ambassador of speed, Marc Gene. So my mind had already been suitably blown.

And then the helicopter landed, and out of it climbed one Luca di Montezemolo, who wandered over casually and said: "Hi Steve, how are you today, what do you think of our new car?"

I was completely taken aback, having only met the great man briefly on a coupe of occasions, for the briefest of moments, both of which I'm fairly certain that I remembered far more than he.

But this time it was different. This time it was just me and my new mate Luca, plus a few more senior members of Ferrari's mighty PR machine, and Marc Gene and Raffa De Simone

After a couple of minutes chatting in the pit lane about the new Speciale, Luca di Montezemolo then suggested that we should all go inside the little office next to the pits at Fiorano and have a chat about things over an espresso.

So we did, and for half an hour we sat there and talked. I asked him questions about Ferrari and he answered them straight - with plenty of style and panache, yes, but none of the marketing fluff you might expect.

It turns out the chairman's favourite Ferrari is not the LaFerrari but, instead, the Ferrari F12: "Because for a series production car it is, I believe, the best car we have ever made."

Ferrari won't ever make an SUV under his watch; "Absolutely never, next question!"

And neither will Ferrari seek to increase its sales year-on-year as it has done for the last few years because: "If we inject too many cars into the world, where will that leave us in five or 10 years time? Our exclusivity would become weaker, and that is not a direction in which I want Ferrari to travel."

Instead, he said: "I believe we can increase our profits without needing to sell more cars by expanding the other elements of our brand. I would like to reach a point where I know the birthdays of every single person we sell a car to.

"I want our customers to feel that we are offering them a truly personal experience when they buy a Ferrari, and I believe that to do this we must focus entirely on the quality of the products, the cars. And that means investing in the best technologies that we can find to make our cars the best that they can possibly be - because in the end, the product, our cars, are the most important thing of all."

We chatted more casually for a few minutes more - about how he drove the Speciale many times during its development stages, and thinks its new side slip control system is its crowning glory - and then he climbed back into his helicopter, and that was that. My meeting with the man who should almost certainly be running not just Fiat and Ferrari but the rest of Italy, too, was over. 

Spending the rest of the day driving the extraordinary new Ferrari 458 Speciale was almost an anti-climax after that. Almost...but not quite.

 Come back to autocar.co.uk on Monday to read the full drive review of the new Ferrari 458 Speciale.