Porsche recently showed the 911 GT3 RS at the Geneva motor show. A couple of hours later Ferrari hit back, hard, fast and loud. It struck with the most powerful V8 engine Ferrari has ever built, obliterating the twin-turbo F40 powerplant and stepping up 50 horsepower from the stock 488 GTB’s already impressive unit.
It’s fast enough that Ferrari has almost had enough of talking about its 0-100km/h time. Instead, it focuses on the explosion of engineering fury that rips the Pista from 0-200km/h in 7.6 seconds.
Take away the 2.85 seconds that the rear-drive Pista takes to destroy the first half of the sprint and you’re left with a lightweight, two-door wedge of gorgeousness that rips from 100km/h to 200km/h in about 4.7 seconds.
Ferrari isn’t that interested in its top speed, either, admitting only that it’s somewhere around 340km/h, or just over, because "Pista" is Italian for "track".
It’s so "track" that it laps Ferrari’s own Fiorano circuit in 1:21.5, which makes it about 1.7 to 1.8 seconds faster than the stock 488 GTB sports car and hovering dangerously close to the LaFerrari hypercar’s lap time.
It’s not the first time Ferrari has done this sort of thing, because the Pista is the philosophical successor to the 360 Challenge Stradale, the F430 Scuderia and the 458 Speciale. The good news is that it’s not a limited-edition model, though it will be rare. The bad news is that Ferrari is suggesting you should already own at least one Ferrari before they’ll think about selling you a Pista.
Even so, the Pista is a fully-fledged road car, adopting even more of the World Endurance Championship lessons of its five world championships since 2012 than the stock 488 GTB.
It’s dangerously fast inside, edging ever closer to the engineering limits for road cars, with carbon fibre intake plenums, rear-angled radiators up front and the air intakes have been moved from the sides to right down the back next to the spoiler. The body’s side intakes are now only there to pump air through the intercoolers for the V8’s pair of outboard twin-scroll turbochargers.
Ferrari claims its aerodynamic efficiency is 20% better, with 18% more downforce for just 2% more drag, largely thanks to the F1-derived S-Duct that gives the Pista its distinctive bonnet line.
Ferrari for years preferred to work with underfloor airflow rather than Porsche’s preferred sticky-uppy spoilers, because they didn’t want to upset their smooth bodywork. That’s changed, subtly, with a rear spoiler that’s 30mm higher, 40mm longer and alone contributes a quarter of the Pista’s added downforce.
That doesn’t mean they ignored the diffuser, which is more complex than ever before. It basically tries to copy the 488 GTE Le Mans racer, with a double-kink line in it to amplify the air extraction, plus it has three active aero flaps that can rotate 14° to stall the diffuser’s airflow. In English, that means it can add higher top speeds by reducing the diffuser’s drag.
It’s also 90kg lighter, at 1,280kg dry, which took some doing on an alloy-chassised supercar with only two thin seats to put on a diet. It is so far down the pipe on this stuff that it even runs to carbon fibre wheels and it uses carbon fibre for the new bonnet, the rear spoiler and the front and rear bumpers, while the rear window is made from Lexan.
It has stretched the parameters of the manettino (err, the driving-mode switch on the steering wheel) so that it can be quicker for inexperienced drivers and both quicker and more fun for competition-standard operators. For the latter, they’ve made the oversteer management ("drift" mode is too crass for Ferrari) system easier to use and easier to handle.
At 8,000r/min, the twin-turbo V8 is punching 530kW of power from its 3.9l capacity, though it continues its strategy of not allowing access to all of its 770Nm of torque until seventh (top) gear.
It’s an evolution of an engine that won the overall International Engine of the Year award in 2016 and 2017, though Ferrari insists it has about 50% of its parts swapped out for lighter, faster or tougher ones, depending on the job at hand.
Moving the air intakes to the spoiler allowed Ferrari to fit the Pista with intercoolers that are 7% bigger, which also benefit from the laid-back radiators directing the hot air beneath the side intakes.
Air entering the air intakes is now up to 15°C cooler than on the stock 488 GTB.
There’s a jump of up to 10% in internal cylinder pressure and the lower-friction goals were met with diamond-like coating on parts like the piston pins.
It pulled 18kg of weight out by using titanium connecting rods, switching the exhaust manifold to hyper-expensive Inconel and making the crankshaft and flywheel lighter, slashing rotational inertia by 17%.
The mapping for the seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission is different too, reducing shift times by 30 milliseconds in its fastest modes, thanks largely to the engine’s improved inertia.
It runs on custom-developed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, a 10% tauter suspension system and an upgraded skid-control system and monster brakes that cut a metre from its stopping distance from 200km/h.
That’s a lot of information, but what you want to know (whether you are fortunate enough to be able to afford one or not) is how it drives.
For that you will have to wait a few more weeks.