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// October 11, 2017

Blasting along at 160 m.p.h. in the passenger seat of a $250,000 Ferrari 488, with Michael Fassbender behind the wheel, I think of something he said before we got in the car. We were chatting in an air-conditioned trailer on the infield of the racetrack we’re lapping, the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas, and I asked Michael how he was feeling, given that he was about to take my life in his hands.

“I’m fine with it,” he said, smiling. He’s often smiling. “I hope you’re O.K. with it.”

Turns out, I am. In part because I think Michael Fassbender could convince me—probably most people—to do almost anything. Charming and contemplative and exceedingly handsome, with the piercing Follow Me eyes of a cult leader, Fassbender exudes focus without seeming at all cocky.

Perhaps more important, I know that Fassbender has been training for the past year to compete in the Ferrari Challenge series, a competitive global racing program for committed Ferrari owners. Each Challenge driver must acquire a race car—the $330,000 488 Challenge is Fassbender’s choice, a more potent and lighter version of the road car in which we did our laps. They must join a private racing team and commission a coach and a mechanic. Then they must work tirelessly on their skills, training at a certified Ferrari driving school, practicing on the track and on ultra-advanced computer simulators, and constantly rehashing telemetry data—precise measurements of speed, braking, acceleration, and turning—to try to improve their time and position in each of the half-dozen races that make up the annual schedule.

“He’s very competitive,” Fassbender’s coach, Martin Roy of Scuderia Corsa, tells me in the paddock. “He wants to perform.” In one of the four races he’s completed so far this season, Fassbender placed third, an achievement given that this is his first year in the program. And that, despite a lifelong love of speed and racing, for 20 years before this, he didn’t even own a car, getting around London on a motorcycle.

I can feel Fassbender’s subtle perfectionism as we rip through the Austin track’s 20 turns. As he rifles off gearshifts, saws the steering wheel, mashes the pedals, he calls out every little error. “Missed that apex.” “Brakes are cooking.” “Slidey, slidey.” “Don’t want to hit those.” He admits that he talks to himself when he’s in the car alone as well, especially when he screws up. What does the Academy Award-, Golden Globe-, and BAFTA-nominated actor say to himself in the privacy of his race car? “You fucking idiot.”

Read full article at Vanity Fair