The inside story of how the latest Special Series Ferrari gives you racetrack feel in a road car
Imagine driving your road car to the racetrack, strapping on your goggles, winning a race and then driving home again. In the early years of Ferrari, this was just how things were done: racing cars were driveable both on the road and the track. Indeed, Ferrari was born from this very idea. And in many ways, the new Ferrari 488 Pista takes us right back to those roots, reviving that pioneering racer-for-the-road spirit. The 488 Pista is the latest and most advanced Ferrari ‘Special Series’ car – a line that started with the 360 Challenge and evolved through the 430 Scuderia and 458 Speciale.
They all bring the very essence of track driving to the road – the feeling that the car reacts instantly to your inputs. Nicola Boari, Head of Product Marketing and Member of the Executive Committee, explains how the new 488 Pista was born: “With the 488 GTE winning the FIA World Endurance Championship, and our 488 Challenge single-make series, never before have we had such a successful platform.
Having been tested on 25 circuits throughout the world, the 488 has proven itself to be an incredibly able, high-performing package. “The Pista is the most profound upgrade we’ve ever made in a Special Series car. While the 458 Speciale was about pure fun, the 488 Pista is definitely more demanding. We put in unprecedented effort to stress the competitive soul of the car.
You will never get so close to the feeling of being in one of our track-only cars as in the 488 Pista.” Starting with Ferrari’s twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 engine (which has won Engine of the Year Award the last two years in succession), the 488 Pista has 720hp – some 50hp more than the 488 GTB. That makes it the most powerful eight-cylinder engine Ferrari has ever built, even more powerful than the racing 488 Challenge or 488 GTE.
Removing 90kg of mass, for example by using lightweight carbonfibre in the chassis/body, is a huge achievement. Even in the engine, many parts are lighter. Optional carbon wheels shed 40 per cent weight versus standard 488 GTB rims, boosting agility and enhancing the racing feel. In the cabin, the track-like theme continues: everything that’s not strictly necessary has been removed. The results are clear in the performance figures. Sprinting to 200km/h from rest takes just 7.6 seconds; compared to the 458 Speciale’s time of 9.1 seconds, it’s an unprecedented step up.
Meanwhile, a new gearshift strategy in Race mode shortens shift times, and braking performance is boosted thanks to parts borrowed from the 488 Challenge racer. Perhaps most importantly, a brand new addition called Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (FDE) gives the driver a more intuitive and immediate feel when cornering at the limit of driving conditions. The result is a car with reactions that are “almost human,” says Boari. Ferrari’s experience racing the 488 GTE brings serious aerodynamic upgrades to the 488 Pista. The iconic, innovative front ‘S-Duct’ is the undoubted star of the aero show, increasing downforce. It’s highlighted by stripes that plunge dramatically under the front bumper.
“Special Series clients - some of whom take their car on track - are focused on maximum performance,” says Boari. “Since the 488 Pista is derived from a track car, we’d expect this proportion of clients to grow. We want them to enjoy the full opportunities this car gives, and there’s nothing like a track to do that. This is a proper, serious car. You really feel that you’re in a true racing Ferrari, even if you’re not. It’s always engaging, always emotional.”