The name and technical characteristics of LaFerrari have much in common with the thoughts of the Greek philosopher. Its qualities include an endothermic V12 engine, which is the apex of perfection thanks to Formula One-inspired Hy-KERS, a chassis made with different types of carbon fibre working in synergy, dynamics that reproduce the F1 racing experience thanks to electronic control systems that optimise stability, and design and aerodynamics developed in symbiosis at Maranello. In performance terms, Ferrari’s new supercar transcends the sum of its singular, extraordinary parts. LaFerrari: pure metaphysics

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

In Formula One, the beauty of the car is secondary to its performance on track. But when it comes to the new model that carries a name that sums up the entire company, appearance does matter. Take time to absorb the images of LaFerrari exclusively presented here and it’s clear that this requirement is more than satisfied. It is a truly magnificent looking car.

However, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Its extraordinary, sinuous lines are also the Company’s own work. In other words, for the first time in many decades, Ferrari is proposing a model that has been designed directly in-house by the dynamic Ferrari Design team, formed and guided by the inspirational Flavio Manzoni. This means that every detail of its lines, even those that the eye doesn’t immediately land on, is the result of careful collaboration between aerodynamic and development engineers, and designers all combining in pursuit of the optimum result. LaFerrari is such a particular achievement that it immediately becomes one of the milestones in the Company’s rich history. In previous issues of the Magazine, we have said much about the models that have been landmarks along this path of excellence: in particular, the 288GTO, F40, F50 and Enzo. These are four cars that highlighted, and continue to perpetuate, the technical achievements of four different eras. Four cars that met with outstanding success because, at the time, no other manufacturer could get close to products of such technical talent or desirability. LaFerrari does the same thing. The 288 GTO and F40 harnessed the elemental force of the contemporary racing turbo, while the F50 utilised carbon fibre and load-bearing engine that lay at the heart of the single-seater. During the Enzo period, Ferrari used the manettino control system on the steering wheel, exemplifying the link with F1 in an era when the Scuderia won numerous world championships, allowing drivers to adjust their car precisely according to track conditions. LaFerrari achieves excellence in a number of new ways – KERS, the hybrid and high tension accumulated by batteries designed by the racing division itself, the famous GES; the strategic use of carbon which blends different fibres with functions and resistances that vary according to requirements, as in the structure of an F1 car; a driving position that apes Alonso and Massa’s, with adjustable pedals and integrated seats allowing extraordinary compactness and a smaller cockpit; the adaptive aerodynamics, which meet the driver’s needs modifying rear wings and air vents across the car; brakes with a previously unheard-of performance resulting from greater stopping power and less weight; integrated control systems designed to provide top performance in all road conditions and on all types of surface; seven-speed F1-type gearbox now even faster and smoother by the action of the torque produced by the KERS system… these are only a few of the original features of LaFerrari. A new milestone, indeed.

This car needs to be understood, rather than just explained. We’ll start with the engine – or rather, with the engines plural, because there are three of them: two for propulsion and one responsible for power distribution. The first is the highest performance V12 ever made for a road-going Ferrari, a direct injection masterpiece that produces 790hp, and works in tandem with a highpower electric motor. The combination of these two engines is not merely a sum of performances, with the integration of the immediate torque and the horsepower of the most extreme Ferrari V12. No, these two engines work in very close symbiosis: thanks to the presence of the electric engine, which can provide torque at low revs, the V12 has been tuned to operate even more thrillingly at higher revs, obtaining the optimum torque curve and providing progressive amounts of thrust along the whole driving regimen. The electric engine exploits all the experience gained with the F1 KERS system, with the advantages of compact dimensions and low weight, the same torque density (5Nm/kg) and extremely high efficiency (94 per cent), which means a minimum loss of energy. Compared with F1, where the driver “pushes to play” and deploys the electric power when he needs it (KERS), in this instance the “overboost” function delivers another benefit on top of the optimisation of fuel consumption and reduction of emissions, while still delivering dizzy performance levels (HY-KERS). As well as boosting overall power, in fact, the electric motor recovers the torque that would otherwise simply be lost, transforming it into electric power to use when needed. The benefit of the high tension is also transmitted to the F1 type dual-clutch gearbox in two ways: it provides a permanent solution to the problem of looking for the best torque, since the KERS-generated horsepower does not need any particular amount of revs to work, and gear changing is also more efficient.

The third engine, an electric auxiliary power unit, services the power steering, brake servo, air conditioning, and other on-board systems. To really understand the battery system that harvests and distributes power, you have to visit the Ferrari racing division, Gestione Sportiva, where the Company’s engineering experts have been optimising the system for over five years. The 120-cell battery pack lies in an extremely small space under the seats, as on the racing car, to improve the centre of gravity and safety performance. It’s as efficient as no fewer than 40 traditional batteries and, of course, is another component designed by the racing division. In the light of the intelligence and efficiency of the system, managed by the hybrid power unit black box, we should not overlook a factor that puts this car right at the top of the range of Ferrari’s V12 engines: with 790hp at more than 9,200 revs, it provides enormous efficiency in terms of volume, engineering and combustion. An intake system with variable geometry allows torque and power output to be increased throughout the rev range. This is combined with a highly effective air intake system originally designed for F1 before being banned by the regulations. The engine also optimises breathing and reduces friction, with oil pumps whose capacity varies according to driving conditions and the g forces generated, and a main shaft with aerodynamically shaped counter weights that deliver a 19 per cent reduction in mass. Another requirement that the V12 meets spectacularly is in its impressive combustion efficiency, thanks to a compression ratio of 13.5:1, and the direct injection system with multiple ignition that differs from one cylinder to another.

While LaFerrari makes a noise as full-bodied as any V12 Ferrari before it. In all, then, they have more than 900 horsepower at their disposal.

While LaFerrari makes a noise as full-bodied as any V12 Ferrari before it, its occupants will be unaware of the additional horsepower silently generated by the electric motor. In all, then, they have more than 900 horsepower at their disposal. This highly complex powertrain is tucked away in a tightly designed body that does not give any idea of the amount of technology and complexity it conceals. This is another thing LaFerrari forces us to think about: how can such complexity, functionality and performance be increased at the same time as reducing the frontal section and squeezing volumes into the already thoroughly optimised dimensions of the Enzo? Once again, there are lessons from F1: the mechanical-driver combination has had to be organised in the most rational and the most aerodynamically efficacious manner. This is no mean feat: to lower the centre of gravity by 3.5cm, accommodate the axles and the endothermic powertrain – with its bulky cooling systems – and still achieve a weight distribution of 59 per cent for the rear axle and 41 per cent for the front one without creating a car bigger than the Enzo, could hardly have been said to be an easy task. Lift the rear canopy of the new car and you’ll see how Ferrari’s engineers have used every available scrap of space, in a way that mirrors an F1 car.

Ferrari has managed to put two different cars into the space of one.

In practice, Ferrari has managed to put two different cars into the space of one. In this mechanical ensemble, mated with a carbon fibre body whose fibres differ in weight and function and delivers never before achievable levels of resistance and safety, we find the driver and passenger’s seats. Except that such a description falls rather short: this is more of an highly ergonomic niche created around the car’s spectacular mechanicals, just as in a fighter jet, functional but still comfortable. The personalised but fixed seat allows pedal adjustment, and the net result is such a profound union between man and car that he feels the vehicle is a part of himself. The wing door solution provides a number of advantages including a narrower front end, which helps the aerodynamics and provides for easier access to the driver and passenger’s seats. Finally, the controls and dashboard: all the functions that the driver needs are on the steering wheel, while the entirely digital instrument panel can be reconfigured, choosing between a version more suitable for the road and a special version for track use. The driver has everything perfectly under control and may also request the full telemetry of the vehicle, in a track situation. There is no doubt that, with this new car, Ferrari’s designers and engineers have come together on a project in a way beyond anything previously attempted. Tasks that you might think could be carried out in absolute freedom become, in reality, highly difficult enterprises when you consider the very shape and form of the car. And yet the result is magical. Two thoughts to be going on with: the aerodynamics of a vehicle of this type are made up of both its exterior parts, including the under-body, and the interior air vents. So all assessments and evaluations must take into account that each part of the car contributes to the overall result. Secondly, the various road conditions in which it must operate. LaFerrari must be totally efficient both at very high speed and on mixed or winding routes. Hence the decision to prepare two different, complementary aerodynamic configurations: HD, or high downforce, and LD, for low drag.

This is achieved by twofold action on both the front and rear of the car. At full speed, the moveable rear wings and spoiler retract and offer minimum resistance, while at the front the air vents modify so the car remains completely stable and without dangerous weight transfer. During braking and accelerating, the rear wings activate to reduce negative lift. Simultaneously, three small ports at the front open to control the flow of air behind the wheels and from the radiator, substantially increasing pressure on the front suspension assembly and uprights, and ensuring the vehicle remains perfectly balanced. Perfectly balanced at all times, in fact, and in all conditions. This ability to adapt to different situations is combined with a careful study of the aerodynamic efficiency of the car’s lines: the front wing; the front radiator, which discharges air upwards from the vents in the bonnet; the side intakes designed to handle the thermal exchange of the rear radiators… all of these elements work together to optimise the car’s dynamics and performance. The twin air intakes on top of the rear wheels increase the amount of pressure recovered from the engine, providing an additional five horsepower. Obviously, as with F1 cars, the work carried out on the underbody was highly meticulous, with a series of devices that increase the extraction capacity of the air, giving rise to an extraordinary vertical load providing a CZ of 1 (a CZ of 0 corresponds to pressure equally effective on front and rear suspension assemblies).

Taken together, LaFerrari records a lap time around Fiorano that is an astonishing five seconds faster than the Enzo’s, equating to almost two seconds per kilometre. Given how the Enzo raised the bar a decade ago, this is a truly incredible feat. The car’s remarkable structural features, aero performance and awesome power output are all contributory factors. But let’s not forget the its fully integrated electronic architecture. Ferrari has come a long way since this suite of features first appeared on the F430 almost a decade ago. They include ESC stability control, passive on straights but active and seamless in operation during cornering; anti-lock braking and brake force distribution (ABS/ESB), which acts on the mighty Brembo carbon ceramic brakes and results in a 15 per cent improvement on the previous generation. The electronic differential, or E-diff, on the other hand, is always active, and keeps the car well balanced in all driving phases, while the F1-Trac traction control is integrated with the other active functions to keep the car balanced and controllable when exiting corners at the highest possible speed. The electronic systems constantly monitor the efficiency of the engine, while the latest iteration of magnetorheological dampers give the car exemplary body control. It is a truly holistic package. The integration of these systems is not merely a sum of functions, but an absolute symphony in which the different electronic systems play their parts at the right time and at the right pitch, providing a performance previously unknown in the automotive world. The genius of this new Ferrari is not only in its active aerodynamics, it’s also present in the highly sophisticated role the hybrid technology plays in enhancing performance while reducing emissions. Not only do the electronic systems recover energy when the occasion arises, they also recover what would otherwise have been lost when the thermal engine is partly operated. Finally, the electronic system also provides great opportunities for enjoyment, like the fill-up of the electric motor at low revs, the boost with the pedal flat down and the pre-fill in which the electric motor “brakes” the thermal engine for a few thousandths of a second, taking in power before releasing it, to create a stunning “catapult” effect. LaFerrari: as the name implies, this is a definitive statement from the Company, one that also espouses Aristotle’s thought: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. When we compare the technology, functions, economy, emissions and performance of LaFerrari with those of a car like 1984’s 288GTO, exceptional as it was in its era, it is as if a whole century has passed. It shows how swiftly Ferrari is able to innovate, and how the Company addresses its future with the concentration and determination of a racing driver. It is no coincidence that Fernando Alonso played his part in the development of LaFerrari.

Record time

Launched in tandem with LaFerrari, Hublot’s state-of-the-art MP-05 is set to redefine the boundaries of modern watchmaking, much like the Prancing Horse model has set new standards in car making
What better time to strengthen the great partnership between Ferrari and Hublot than the arrival of LaFerrari? This, the definitive Ferrari supercar statement, as its deceptively simple name suggests, is a Prancing Horse that deserves a timepiece to match. The new Ferrari raises the bar, posing a substantial challenge for its Swiss partner. With this in mind, Hublot decided to establish a new record, boasting technological sophistication unthinkable in the past, with the extraordinary and truly unique MP-05 “LaFerrari”. With its 640 components for tourbillon movement and 11 small cylinders all in a line, just like a backbone, it has a battery reserve of 50 days. A world record. If the numbers of LaFerrari, as in the actual car, will be very limited, those of the MP-05 will be even more so: just 50 examples of this very special edition. The casing (with a complex sapphire glass cover and skeleton frame) is realised in black PVD titanium, and the winding mechanism mounted in a striking titanium and carbon insert. The crown is positioned under the casing.

Sat on the wrist, it looks fantastically original:

seconds, minutes and hours are shown via a series of small black and grey anodised aluminium cylinders with big numbers for better reading. This ease of use is accentuated by the diameters of the tourbillon casing, equivalent to 14.5mm, which, being larger than normal, allows you to appreciate and marvel at the micro-engineering work of this truly authentic jewel.
Naturally, the casing includes a touch of the iconic Ferrari Rosso. And, given that this is a watch capable of beating all the records of endurance racing, thoughts naturally turn to the idea of a “bag of instruments” which allow the watch to operate without interrupting the action: the case, in Schedoni leather and carbon fibre, contains apparatus for the winding mechanism, with a design inspired by the world of motor racing. There is everything needed for high precision. Amazingly Hublot plans to produce an even more dazzling model by adding the only thing missing from a mechanical object called LaFerrari: the roar of the engine at almost 10,000rpm!

Da issue 20, yearbook 2013

To get more of The Official Ferrari Magazine mix of people, lifestyle, arts and culture: Subscribe now
  • Rodrigo Urbina

    Who can ever deny that Ferraris yes,
    but this particular macchina, that caresses such a perfect blend between
    refined artistic expression and outmost advanced engineering and technology is
    not the pinnacle of human endeavor? Critics by definition do not allow a car to
    be a piece of art for it serves a purpose other than the mere expression that
    pleases the soul and senses and yet, La Ferrari does that in the most perfect
    way known by man but still delivering its purpose, functionality and
    performance seducing perfection itself, filling its possessor, I can only
    presume, with unmatched feelings of enjoyment. So its very creation transcends
    art and engineering alone, generating a third ethereal that can only be called
    LaFerrari, to me, the epitome of what mankind can create. For that handful of
    men that will ever enjoy this ultimate expression of humanity’s creativity and
    achievement, rejoice, for if one were to make an offering to the gods you could
    not think on anything better, no supreme jewel, than this exquisite masterpiece.