Ferrari 488 Pista
Most powerful V8 in Ferrari history and we get an exclusive drive in it
The last time I stood in front of il Commendatore’s (Enzo Ferrari) house was back in 2011. I wasn’t as excited then as I am today. Because behind me is a camouflaged car that only a handful of people outside the company (and in the world) have driven. And if behind me is Enzo Ferrari’s old house, then around me is the Fiorano track on which I am about to drive a prototype, the track version of the 488 GTB.
Yes, the car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier and yes there is little to differentiate the Pista from the GTB, but Raffaele de Simone, Ferrari’s chief development driver tells me that while the GTB is a doctor’s knife, the 488 Pista is a brain surgeon’s scalpel, and for someone who wields one, the difference is easy to tell.
If tracks were surgeries then Fiorano would be a complicated brain surgery and I am happy to be armed with a neurosurgeon’s scalpel.
Being one of the jury members of the International Engine of the Year, I’ve been invited to get a taste of a further development of the engine that was crowned the International Engine of the Year two times in a row. After sitting through a presentation on the changes to the engine, we are all set to try it out.
Raffaele makes it seem so easy as he builds up speed out of the pits and gives running commentary on each of the turns, how to tackle each corner, where to brake early and where to leave the turn in till the very last moment. His car glides from one corner to the other as the speed builds up, and he is now pushing the needle against the rev limiter and the aural symphony cascades into a crescendo, shifting to a high pitch just before the shift.
Before I have a chance to realise it, I am being belted into the four-point harness, the helmet strap is checked and the light turns green. I take a lap to build up momentum and slowly start pushing the car. Acceleration is brutal, and braking is even worse as I am trying to catch-up with my innards every time I brake hard. The 720bhp I can fathom, but the jump in torque with every gear ensures that the momentum is stronger with every shift rather than having to build up again. And did anyone tell me that this is a turbocharged engine? Power delivery is seamless and turbo lag seems non-existent as I start pushing the car.
Slowly I start coming into my own and following a rhythm, getting the braking right and not slowing down too dramatically before each corner, waiting for the right point to turn in and laying down the power just beyond the apex as the car straightens out. It is as easy to drive as a go kart, but as the speed builds up, so does the intensity of all the actions. The nudges on the huge paddleshifters come quicker, the brak-
GTB IS A DOCTOR’S KNIFE, THE
488 PISTA IS A BRAIN SURGEON’S SCALPEL, FOR
SOMEONE WHO WIELDS
ONE, THE DIFFERENCE IS EASY TO
ing gets even more brutal and the turn ins more aggressive. I realise that the laps are running out and I turn the red manettino one notch to the right. That’s the moment I have been waiting for, building up towards. And all hell breaks loose. Maybe it’s just the sound, but it isn’t. If the car was sharp, it is now the scalpel. If the acceleration and braking were brutal, they are now like a battering ram, and I realise why racers need strong necks as my head starts bobbing around inside the helmet, the neck not having the strength to hold it steady. I had set up the displays to show me the Gs I