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. 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 than forwards as in the 488 GTB), improving cooling and maintaining optimal performance levels even in high thermal stress situations. 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. 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.
Aerodynamic demands guided the work of the Ferrari Design Centre team. The 488 Pista’s forms have been meticulously sculpted to ensure they are more performance-oriented than ever, with huge attention lavished ensuring that while aerodynamic demands were met, the Maranello marque’s signature styling elements and aesthetic canons were respected. Most notable on the flanks is the fact that the splitter in the side air intakes of the 488 GTB has been removed. At the front, the aerodynamic profiles that start at the front bumpers run sleekly along the side miniskirts all the way to the side appendages of the rear diffuser. The designers used innovative elements, such as the aerodynamic S-Duct at the front, as an opportunity to visually shorten the car’s nose, creating an original floating wing effect. The black, omega-shaped edging on the front bumpers and the side flicks reference the prominent aerodynamic underbody motif of the 488 GTE. The Ferrari 488 Pista features a two-tone livery that runs the entire length of the car, starting at the front bumper, then diving into the S-Duct and continuing all the way to the rear spoiler.
In-depth aerodynamics research played a big part in improving the Ferrari 488 Pista’s performance. Working on a concept focused on uncompromising innovation allowed considerable engineering freedom in developing significant solutions. The already-exceptional aerodynamic efficiency of the 488 GTB has been improved by 20%, with major benefits in terms of absolute speed and lap times on medium-fast tracks as well as sheer fun behind the wheel. The 488 Pista’s V8 turbo punches out 50 cv more than the car on which it is based, thanks in part to a reduction of almost 15C in the temperature of the air entering the plenum with respect to the 488 GTB. The development of the thermo-fluid dynamics consequently focused on the powertrain cooling specifics, to minimise any impact on pure aerodynamic performance. To guarantee the kind of performance demanded of the powertrain, the intercooler required an increase of over 25% in size compared to that of the 488 GTB. In order to minimise the increase in weight and drag associated with such a large radiating surface, the engineers worked intensively on the car as a whole to improve efficiency, limiting the increase required in surface area to just 7%. The main contributing factors to the improved intercooler efficiency were the radical layout choices made at the front of the car.
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 50 cv power increase over the 488 GTB’s engine is also the largest ever leap in engine power for a Ferrari special series car and a remarkable 115 cv more than the previous model, the 458 Speciale. In short, this V8 is the new benchmark not only for turbo-charged power units, but for all engines. The development of this sportier version of the 488 GTB thus presented Ferrari’s engineers with the highly complex challenge of improving on what was already acknowledged as the world’s best engine. To do so, they had to test out a string of leading-edge solutions, drawing on Ferrari’s successful experience in the competition world. The result is that the Ferrari 488 Pista’s engine has over 50% of new components compared to that of the 488 GTB.
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. 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. 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 8dB more, in proportion with the progressive increase in power.
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. Moving the air intakes from the sides to the rear also freed up space for a larger intercooler. Thanks to a cooling layout derived from the 488 Challenge and featuring radiators with an inverted rake so that they are inclined towards the rear, the hot air flow is channelled to below the flanks, well away from the side intakes for the intercooler. This guarantees that power is maintained even in critical situations, such as in the wake of another car. 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.
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