Strap in because the Ferrari 458 Speciale will throw you about. But it’s a two-way street: new developments allow drivers to dance the rear of the car through high-speed corners. And specially-designed Michelin Pilot Sports Cup 2 tyres provide the Ferrari with stability and performance to get the most out of its potential.
Ferrari aimed to develop a high-performance car for any situation with the 458 Speciale. The car had to perform on both road and track, in corners as well as straights and in wet or dry conditions. This car had to be the master of all trades with the fun and surprise of any Ferrari.
Raffaele De Simone, development test driver for the 458 Speciale, outlines the company’s view of the ideal owner. “They want a very consistent car to improve their driving skill. We give them a car that is a part of their body. It’s exactly what you expect in terms of driveability because it gives you great feedback: consistency, power, balance, weight distribution and pure grip through the tyres,” he says.
And so the 458 Speciale is equipped to meet these needs. Matteo Lanzavecchia, Ferrari’s head of vehicle road testing and development, says the car has 50% more technical innovations in comparison to the F430 Scuderia.
The new SSC (side slip angle control) feature is the headline addition – it’s the first time Ferrari has used the technology in a production car. And it’s all a bit mathematical: SSC is an algorithm that compares the angle of a turning car with the optimum angle for hitting that apex. Information from that calculation combines with the existing E-Diff (electronic differential) and F1-Trac (traction control) technologies to allow full-throttle exits. Ferrari says the development has helped to achieve the best possible balance of agility and stability.
There are other updates to the car. A rear-end diffuser works with rear flaps, a form of DRS (drag reduction system), to control downforce. Vertical guide vanes at the front open at high speeds to minimize the amount of air entering the radiators. This reduces drag. All these different components at the front of the car combine to form a cooling system.
Ferrari says the 458 Speciale’s engine, capable of 605 hp, is the best-performing V8 in company history. It has an aerodynamic efficiency rating of 1.5 – the F430 Scuderia’s figure was 1.06. This latest model also has the fastest ever response time to commands at just 0.06 seconds. It has 20% faster upshifts and 44% faster downshifts compared with the 458 Italia.
Specially-designed Michelin tyres allow all these upgrades to flourish. They had to be all-purpose like the car – suitable for road and track as well as dry and wet conditions. Michelin worked closely with Ferrari and produced the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2.
The 458 Speciale has 6% more grip in the dry and 5% more in wet conditions compared with the F430 Scuderia. Its tyres are resistant to aquaplaning and maintain endurance and consistency over an extended time period. Michelin says the Pilot Sport Cup 2 enjoy performance levels of track tyres while still being suited to road use.
These tyres are a harmony of design and function. They have been strengthened with a rubber compound that enforces grip in tight corners and wears out more slowly. Michelin’s new Velvet Technology uses micro-geometry techniques on the compound to absorb light and define the tyre’s smaller features. The deeper tread depth of 0.2 inches provides more grip and absorbs more light to highlight the lightening design of the tread pattern.
Michelin’s tyres complement Ferrari’s synthesis of aesthetics and performance. And they help make the 458 Speciale a classically-red Ferrari with staggering pace. It does zero to 62 mph in three seconds. Going to 124 mph takes 9.1 seconds. Lateral acceleration is at 1.33G and it completed Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1’23’’5 – 1.5 seconds quicker than the Italia and Scuderia. The car has racing pedigree to go with its blue and white racing stripes, just as Ferrari wanted.