Francesco Bernoulli is a World Grand Prix racer and Lightning McQueen's main rival. Though many thought he was an antagonist at first, he is actually just rude to Lightning McQueen at certain points. By the end of the movie, he and McQueen become friends.
Creation and development
While developing a Formula One character for the film, the developing team realized that a such open-wheeled car could make much more gesture than normal cars with fenders. Director John Lasseter said: "We don't typically lift the tires off, partly because of the fender. But I thought, "Wow. To have an open wheel car, like Francesco, it gives us a lot more gestures." And so we thought, "Well this guy's going to be gesturing like crazy. Let’s make him Italian, an Italian Formula 1 car. This will be perfect.""
Bernoulli's design took four months to be finalized as the team worked out where to put the mouth and how to give an F1 car a "windshield" for the eyes. Indeed, F1 cars do not have a windshield. Additionally, they are very long. As says Character Art Director Jay Shuster, "Formula cars have long snouts, so we had to really inflate his form to get the real estate we needed." Ultimately, the eyes were placed on a sort of helmet that is integrated with the body. The mouth is at the end of a foreshortened nose, and not underneath it as originally envisioned.
The fact that Francesco, as an open-wheeled car, has his suspension visible, posed some unusual problems to the animators. According to Shuster: "Francesco was the hardest design to complete because of his exposed suspension". As supervising animator Dave Mullins said: "We always have fenders covering the wheels. So we can hide our dirty little secrets underneath the hood, because the chassis is moving around and stretching around. All you really see is the hard body of the car, and the wheels acting. With Francesco, we can see the connection between the wheels and the body. It was one of the big challenges trying to figure out how to support everything that’s going on with the body."
The original suspension had to be reinvented in order to support all the stretchings that Francesco's gestures would cause, and the team had important struggles to achieve a believable suspension. Jay Shuster said: "We realized that when he takes off his front wheels, he's stretched like a rubber band and it's really ugly. Something like that took about two months to figure out what was going on—we developed a whole telescoping arm that had a pivot point." "The kind of physical expression we were able to get from Francesco's movement took a lot of work but really looked great in the end. He was able to achieve these really extreme poses."
According to Story Supervisor Nathan Stanton, Francesco's character constantly reminded the development team of the character John Turturro played in The Big Lebowski. Consequently, John Turturro was chosen to voice Francesco.
In Cars 2, he first appeared on the Mel Dorado show, when they talked about inviting Lightning McQueen to the World Grand Prix. Francesco then began insulting him. Being his best friend, Mater didn't take kindly to Francesco insulting McQueen, so he called the show, telling Francesco to stop speaking that way about Lightning. McQueen, seeing Mater on the phone, drags him out and instead deals with Francesco himself, telling him that he doesn't like his best friend being insulted either. The pair argue, ending with Lightning calling Francesco fragile because he is a Formula 1 car. He takes it as a serious insult and starts swearing in Italian when he is soon muted. Then Miles formally invites Lightning to join the World Grand Prix, to which he accepts and joins.
Later, Lightning and Mater meet Francesco at the party in Tokyo. Once they finished their conversation, Francesco shows Lightning a bumper sticker saying "Ciao McQueen", proving Francesco's arrogance. Soon after, Mater consumes some wasabi which he thinks was pistachio ice cream. Francesco laughs mockingly after Mater embarrasses McQueen and himself in front of the world when he drinks from the fountain.
At the beginning of the Tokyo race, he was announced to be good on the straight-aways. When the racers were lined up, he heard Lightning's catchphrase "I am speed!" He decided to mock McQueen again by declaring, "Francesco is triple speed." During the race, he fell behind to last place in the dirt section, but was able to catch up to 2nd place. Then when Mater was "going to meet his date," he accidentally gave Lightning some bad racing advice which was to race on the outside, and Francesco, who was shadowing McQueen, took the inside, passed McQueen and won the race, which only made their rivalry grow larger.
In the second race in Porto Corsa, Francesco hears about Lightning missing his friend Mater. Then he tells him that it's hard to be far away from home. However, Francesco was at home, and his mama was in the audience. He tells his mama that he will win the race. For most of the race, Francesco was in the lead, but then Lightning passes him and wins the race, with Francesco second.
In the third race in London, he was at first seen in the lead, but then Lightning passes him. Then Mater, using a pair of rockets and had McQueen holding onto him, zoomed past Francesco, which makes him hope it was a bad dream. Then Holley, with her wings and afterburners, passes him, and he freaks out again.
By the Radiator Springs Grand Prix, the rivalry between the two had settled down a little, and they can be considered "friends" although they do seem to still be major rivals at times. Before the race, Sally meets him when Lightning introduces them to each other. Then Francesco sees Lightning's bumper sticker, which said "Ka-ciao, Francesco!" The race then started with Lightning in the lead (it was his home track), and Francesco following.
Cars 2: The Video Game
In Cars 2: The Video Game, Francesco is one of the ten characters that are playable from the beginning of the game. A version with a black paint job, called Midnight Francesco, can be unlocked by collecting all spy cases in the game.
Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure
In Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure, he appears in the second Cars level as part of the main goal. He tells the player and Holley Shiftwell to keep off the Tokyo race course as he has a race to prepare for, only that the player and Holley were searching for a bomb that somebody planted on the course of the Tokyo Grand Prix. They see that the bomb is on Francesco, who doesn't even know about the bomb. The player has to catch Francesco and use a device to disarm the bomb before it explodes. In the ending cutscene, the player deactivates the bomb, only that when the player and Holley investigate the bomb, Francesco asks them what did they want with him. Holley explains that someone sabotaged him with the bomb, only that he's safe now, but he doesn't believe it, saying that it is ridiculous and that he is not easily fooled, before driving away saying to the player and Holley that they are just trying to get into his head, but it will never work.
In Disney Infinity, Francesco is one of the four playable characters from the Cars franchise. His exclusive adventure is Francesco's Rush, which is a race that you need to beat in a certain time to get a gold medal. His abilities are the same as the other cars, which are drifting, and an additional square to the turbo boost meter.
During the story of the Cars Play Set, after completing the "Double Back Dash" mission, he arrives at the Radiator Springs International Race Invitational hosted by Luigi. Later, Francesco challenges the player's character to a race with trick barrels scattered around the track. After Chick Hicks says to the other racers that he is plotting to win the race and that it will be the "last time you'll be seeing my grill," Francesco states to The King that he almost likes Chick and that he would have said it better. After the player wins the race, Francesco watches as Finn McMissile plans to have Chick sent to the impound lot, and leaves with Finn, The King, Ramone and Flo as they instead take Chick away to be painted red with lightning bolts.
Francesco has made many appearances in books, most of which re-tell the story of Cars 2. He also appears occasionally in the comics, most notably in Francesco's New Look!, Francesco has decided to visit Radiator Springs, to see his friends Lightning and Mater. However, Mater accidentally swings his tow hook into Francesco's hood, giving him a tiny dent. Francesco claims that a high-media celebrity like himself could never be seen with a dent like that. He asks Ramone to fix him up, but Ramone gets carried away and gives him a flame job.
Francesco is based on a Formula 1 race car, as noted from specifications such as open wheels and a long hood. His top speed is 220 mph, with a 0-60 of 2.5 seconds. His engine is a 2.4-liter V-8, 18,500 rpm redline, with a horsepower of 750. He is painted red, white and green. He has red rims, as well as black rubber tires that read "Pasta Potenza" and "Rotelli Tires" (with "Pasta Potenza" replaced by "Rotelli Tires" in Disney Infinity).
Personality and traits
Francesco is cocky and self-centered, as proven on numerous occasions with Lightning McQueen. In Cars 2, Francesco serves as the main antagonist on Lightning's part of the film, and has a similar persona to Chick Hicks. However, unlike Chick, Francesco seems to have a good side to him somewhere in his transmission.
Francesco is a world-renowned racing champion.
For some reason, Mater can't say his name right. He's always calling him "Mr. San Francisco."
"Francesco Bernoulli grew up in the shadow of the famous Monza race course in Italy where he and his friends would sneak onto the track and race the famous Pista di Alta Velocita bank turn. He was an instant winner on the amateur circuit and soon became an international Formula Racer champion. The ladies love Francesco's open wheels, youngsters look up to his winning spirit and fellow racers envy his speed. But Francesco's biggest fan is Francesco himself, as evidenced by his racing number. As the most famous race car in Europe, #1 Francesco is a favorite to win the World Grand Prix, which also makes him Lightning McQueen’s chief rival."
Cars 2: The Video Game
"Francesco was an instant winner on the amateur Grand Prix circuit, and soon became an international Grand Prix champion and the most famous race car in Europe. Despite his ego, Francesco plays fair on the track and loves a friendly competition."
Weight class: Medium
"So sleek. So bold. Francesco dazzles the competition (and his fans) with black and gold."
On Francesco's side is a logo presenting the letters FR in a design similar to the F1 logo. It is the abbreviation of "Formula Racer", his racing league.
Francesco's tires are "Rotelli Tires Pasta Potenza". "Potenza" alludes to Bridgestone's Potenza tires, which were used by all Formula One teams from 2007 to 2010. "Pasta Potenza" would literally mean "the power of pasta". "Rotelli" is a play between Rotini, a type of pasta, and Pirelli, which is the current official F1 tire supplier. It is possibly also a reference to Italian sports cars being called "Pasta Rockets". However, in Disney Infinity, "Pasta Potenza" is replaced by a repeat of "Rotelli Tires".
Francesco, similar to Luigi, often refers to himself in the third person.
Strangely, they are both Italian.
He has similarities to Chick Hicks: they both love to win and hate second place, they are antagonistic towards McQueen's perspective but unlike Bernoulli, Hicks remains bad for the whole episode, they both have good fates (Bernoulli becomes friends with McQueen and Hicks will be an RSN announcer in Cars 3).