Image credit: Automobilisport.
The Ferrari 458 will go down in history as one of the all-time greats off GT category racing. While it’s now past its sell by date, the car is still racking up wins in lower class GT racing. For 2016, Ferrari has brought an all new GT car based on the all-new Ferrari 488 road car.
The new 488 will come as the same package as the new BMW M6, in forms of GT LM and GT3 cars etc, with only small changes needed to compete in either class. We were first able to see the new 488 in action at the Daytona 24h in February, whereby the car scored a 4th place finish in the GT LM class.
While the 458 was a great overall car, it’s seemed to suffer from issues with straight-line speed and downforce levels, while the car worked on the faster circuits, this was an area where AF Corse and Ferrari wanted to fix with its next generation GT car.
The biggest change here is the switch from a normally aspirated engine to a 3.9 V8 with twin turbochargers, making it one of a handful of cars with a turbo in either GT3 or GT LM class. The birth of the engine created headaches for engineers who found the engine overweight and underpowered at first. In IMSA testing at Daytona, Ferrari engineers worked out that the BMW M6 had around 100BHP more than their engine, thus making the Ferrari one of the slower GT cars around track.
Ferrari had to work very hard to save weight in its engine, which results in a new engine block, valves, and crankshaft. They have also switched to a lighter battery which is a Lithium one, which has saved over thirty pounds in the engine bay.
The mid-engine car has had to slimed and packaged in a different manner to the likes of a rear mounted engine in the 911 RSR. The rear of the chassis sees a wider engine bay to accommodate the V8 along with the twin turbochargers. And interesting idea on the 488 is the intercooler packaging, which you can see through the glass engine cover.
The positioning sees two vertically mounted intercoolers which have hoses going to the front of the engine, as well as the rear. It’s believed that this will cool the turbocharger as well as engine combustion, where the car pumps air around the engine.
Likewise, to the M6, the engine sits very low for a better center of gravity. With the weight of the transmission and engine, ahead of the rear axle, the car had fantastic traction over Dayton in the IMSA series, whereby the Ferrari did much of its overtaking.
The 3.9 engine block is made from Aluminum, which is the same as the road going 488. Ferrari are running an all new plenum for the 488 too, which needs more mass flow for engine combustion. This airflow is fed via the ducts on the side of the chassis. Likewise, to BMW, they are running all new fuel injectors and timing for better performance.
For 2016, the 488 will run an all new Xtrac transverse mounted gearbox, with all pickup points for the rear suspension. The gearbox has been raised so that they can runner a steeper angle of the diffuser, thus giving more downforce. The transmission casing is very small with the inner components compacted even more so than the 458. The new car has also changed its gear linkages and parts, that have been changed to Megaline, whereby the 458 ran Hewland ones.
One area in particular where the 488 has improved dramatically is the suspension. The 458 ran hand-made parts which consisted of the suspension arms, drive shafts and uprights. For the 488 however, its sees all the parts machined from billet aluminum. This has saved on manufacturing time as well as providing the car with more rigid components, which last longer when being tested.
For the brakes, they remain the same as the 458, with steel discs all round with three-piston calipers at the front, and two at the rear. Brake cooling at the front is using the heat exchanger in the bumper to cooler the rotors, while the rear brakes use the lower duct inlet on the side of the chassis.
The chassis of the 488 has been reshaped, with much change coming to the rear end. The steel space frame provides the survival shell, with Carbon Fiber outer bodywork. The rear subframe and wheel arches had to be altered so that it could accommodate the new engine and all of its ancillary’s that go with it. The engine and floor sit much higher than the 458, so has given the 488 a higher center of mass, which could hamper the car’s ability through corners. But the issues is yet to crop up yet its drivers claim.
For added chassis rigidity, the car has seen an addition of steel composite tubes to help stiffen up the shell. The most notable one is the one that goes over the top of the engine. The only downside is that the 488 is slightly heavier due to all this, the 488 is at tad over 1235kg currently.
The rear mounted ducts are used for combustion flow, as well as water and oil cooling. Ferrari has integrated this well into the body, which is giving the car “excellent cooling” SMP Racing Team claim, who run the 488 GT LM in the IMSA endurance series.
The aerodynamics department has worked very hard on the new aero concept for the 488. The 458 was not particularly a draggy car, and while that is good, the car didn’t generate much in the terms of downforce. This was an area where Ferrari wanted to improve its new generation of GT car.
Starting at the front, the 488 sees a very extravagant splitter design, which sees an endplate as well as a cut out section on its leading edges. Ferrari has really done their research here. The endplate will have quite a sizeable performance gain, whereby its guiding low pressure flow down the cars sills, whereby the diffuser can play with.
With the beautifully crafted cut-out section, Ferrari engineers want more low pressure to feed under the car for better downforce, so by implementing the cut-out, low-pressure won’t circulate around the bumper as much, and so will feed through the cap. This type of design is called pressure bleed, and is very popular in Formula 1.
The splitter also sees a stepped section in the middle, which was also used on the 458, albeit less aggressively. The new design is allowing, even more, low pressure air to enter under the car, thus being sped up more for even more effect of the diffuser.
Moving on the bumper, the Ferrari uses what all other classmates run, which is dive planes. The Ferrari ones are quite small but have a high angle of attack for a bigger up wash effect.
Towards the rear of the car, the Ferrari sees the same rear wing used on the 458 cars, with the same pylons, main plane and endplates.
For the diffuser, it has been raised by a significant amount, all thanks to the higher mounted engine and gearbox. The angle is now allowing for a bigger expansion of air under the car, thus giving it more downforce. All cars in GT LM and GTD are running slats in the diffuser, which helps the air stay attached to the diffuser, therefore stopping the layers breaking up.
The 488 offers the biggest price of the lot, which is a tad over £500k, making it the most expensive GT car ever. But, you do pay for a well-engineered package. The car is a real improvement over the 458 which struggled come the latter half of its life cycle. The car is simple for customers with only an engine change needed to make it legible got GT3 racing. The all-new 488 is sure to be a success in the GT world.