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Autos: Seeing the Light

Shaun Tolson

Ferrari’s recently retired Formula One champ Michael Schumacher was back

behind the wheel of an F/1 racer, leaving trails of rubber as he slid the car

around the corners of a test track. Not far away, more than 1,000 Ferraris were

on display outside the white-brick building that used to serve as the home and

office of Enzo Ferrari. Earlier in the day, 52 Ferrari spiders had arrived at

the track after completing a 145-day relay through 42 countries. First in line

was a 125S model that was the first Ferrari ever built; Kimi Räikkönen and

Felipe Massa, two current members of Scuderia, Ferrari’s F/1 team, were the

car’s driver and codriver. And as happens just about everywhere he goes, Ferrari

president Luca di Montezemolo was mobbed by Ferrari owners and enthusiasts and

members of the media as though he were a rock star. Such was the scene during

Ferrari’s 60th anniversary celebration this summer at the carmaker’s

headquarters in Maranello, Italy.

Meanwhile, it was business as usual inside

the Ferrari factory, where workers were building by hand the first 430

Scuderias, Ferrari’s latest model, which was scheduled to be unveiled in

September at the Frankfurt IAA motor show. The new model is a two-seat

berlinetta based on the F430 Coupe, but it also represents the first small step

in what could become a monumental departure for Ferrari.

The 430 Scuderia

incorporates the F430’s 510 hp V-8 engine, but the car weighs 220 pounds less,

giving it a low weight-to-power ratio of 5.4 pounds per horsepower. As Roberto

Fedeli, Ferrari’s GT technical director, explains, by shedding some pounds, the

Scuderia might set a trend for Ferrari.

Fedeli says that if Ferrari upgrades

its FXX—the supercar that it introduced in 2005—and if the next iteration is

similar to its predecessor in size and weight (about 2,900 pounds), the vehicle

would be equipped with an engine at least as potent as the current FXX’s 800 hp

powerplant. That is one route the company could take. But Ferrari also is

looking in a different direction.
 
Its supercar of the future could instead

incorporate a 660 hp, turbocharged engine, similar to the one that powers the

Enzo, but that car would weigh 660 pounds less than the Enzo (about 2,200 pounds

total). “This car will have the same performance [as the heavier, 800 hp

alternative],” Fedeli says, “but it means we have to downsize

everything.”

The concept vehicle that Ferrari presented (in shell form only)

during the festivities in Maranello was not quite as tall or as long as the FXX,

and it would have a carbon-fiber suspension and nose box. In addition to

increased performance, the smaller, lighter car also would have better fuel

economy than the Enzo and produce 40 percent fewer emissions—an eco-friendly

Ferrari, relatively speaking.

Yet such innovation has its limits; if it

weighed less than 2,200 pounds, says Fedeli, a Ferrari GT car would sacrifice

the qualities that make it such a pleasure to drive. Ferrari recognizes the

environmental benefits of a smaller model, but it remains focused on producing

cars that offer unparalleled performance. Still, the company is pursuing the

notion that building a bigger engine is not the only way to make a faster car.

“We’re not interested in having the most powerful engines on the market,” says

Amedeo Felisa, Ferrari’s general director. “You now have to think outside the

box.”

Ferrari, www­.ferrariusa.com

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