Brian Joss – The Ferrari 488 Pista is powered by the most powerful V8 engine in the Maranello marque’s history and is the company’s special series sports car with the highest level yet of technological transfer from racing. In fact the name, meaning ‘track’ in Italian, was chosen specifically to testify to Ferrari’s unparalleled heritage in motor sports.
Technically, the Ferrari 488 Pista encompasses all of the experience built up on the world’s circuits by the 488 Challenge and the 488 GTE. For over 25 years, Maranello has been organising the most prestigious of all one-make championships, the Ferrari Challenge, in which over 100 drivers split into three continental series do battle at the wheel. Last year saw the introduction of the 488 Challenge, the first model in the series to be equipped with a turbo engine. The Ferrari 488 GTE is instead the car fielded in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the pinnacle of GT racing, where it has won two consecutive GT Manufacturers’ titles and no less than five titles in total since the championship’s inception in 2012. Thanks to wins in both the Pro and Am categories, the 488 GTE has taken no fewer than 35 out of the 50 races run to date.
The new car’s engine adopts numerous solutions from that of the 488 Challenge and its power output has been increased to 720 cv. It is also lighter, thanks to new titanium con-rods and carbon-fibre intake plenums.
The inverted radiator cooling system is also derived from the Challenge with the radiators raked rearwards (rather forwards as in the 488 GTB), improving cooling and maintaining optimal performance levels even in high thermal stress situations.
As with the three previous special series, the Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and 458 Speciale, this new berlinetta is the perfect marriage of extreme performance and track car-style handling.
The vehicle dynamics were designed for unique driving feedback and to make the car’s full potential available to all drivers, professional or otherwise. Specific vehicle controls were developed with this in mind, first and foremost being a new oversteer management system usable in the manettino’s CT-OFF position and designed to make the car’s performance on the limit easier to reach and control.
A new gear-shift strategy in the RACE position delivers a far more sporty experience, very similar to that of a track car. In other words, the Ferrari 488 Pista offers drivers of all abilities an exceptional and exhilarating experience that normally only a competition car could deliver, setting a whole new benchmark in terms of driving pleasure for the Ferrari range.
The Ferrari 488 Pista’s extreme design is underlined by the optional livery that highlights the aerodynamic innovation of the S-Duct. The car’s lines were developed to underscore its sporty soul and cleverly combine the purity of the 488 GTB with some of the hugely successful racing and functional elements of the 488 GTE and 488 Challenge while staying true to Ferrari’s traditional styling.
The Ferrari 488 Pista can punch out 720 cv at 8000 rpm, giving it the best specific power output in its class at 185 cv/l, while torque is higher at all engine speeds, peaking at 770 Nm (10 Nm more than the 488 GTB). An extreme evolution of the turbo engine elected overall International Engine of the Year in both 2016 and 2017, this is the most powerful V8 in Ferrari history.
The Ferrari 488 Pista also fully exploits new features developed for the 488 Challenge, not least the engine air intake layout with the intakes moved from the flanks to the rear spoiler area where they are connected directly to the plenums. This drastically reduces fluid-dynamic load losses and ensures a higher volume and cleaner flow of air to the engine, thereby contributing to the increase in power.
The Ferrari 488 Pista’s engine also benefits from all the lightweight components featured on the Challenge version, resulting in a weight reduction of 18 kg compared to the 488 GTB. The exhaust manifolds are now made from Inconel while the crankshaft and flywheel are both lighter too.
Titanium con-rods have also been introduced and the reductions in the weight of the rotating masses cut inertia by 17%. Drivers feel the impact of these reductions very clearly as the driver can see the revs increasing much more rapidly.
The 488 Challenge also provides the turbos with integrated rev sensors.
Response times are instantaneous and even faster than the 488 GTB thanks to a new control strategy developed specifically for this model. A new pedal map also makes driving on the limit even easier.
Lastly, the Ferrari 488 Pista’s engine sound is unique and unmistakable, as such a special version of the Ferrari V8 sports car warrants. The new Inconel exhaust manifolds and an optimised exhaust bypass logic contribute to the superior quality and the intensity. The level of sound is also higher than the 488 GTB in all gears and at all engine speeds, up to a maximum of 8 dB more, in proportion with the progressive increase in power.
The sporty driving feedback is further enhanced by the high-performance gear shifting, typical of a thoroughbred race car. The new gear shift strategy, available in the manettino’s RACE position, reduces shifting times by 30 ms with positive acceleration when the higher gear engages that the driver can feel distinctly.
The 488 Pista also hails another first for a Ferrari road car – a lateral dynamics control system that uses Ferrari software to adjust the brake pressure at the callipers. The Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (FDE) is available when the manettino is in the “CT-OFF” position. It regulates the lateral dynamics variables, including side slip angle estimation. The control system intervenes in advance, lightly actuating the callipers through, and exiting corners.