On February 6th 1967, Ferrari pulled off one of the most spectacular feats in its entire history when it took the top three places at the 24 Hours of Daytona in the first round of that year’s International World Sports Car Championship. The three cars that shot past the chequered flag in that legendary side-by-side finish on Ford’s home turf – in first place a 330 P3/4, in second a 330 P4 and in third a 412 P – represented the pinnacle of development of the Ferrari 330 P3, a model that chief engineer Mauro Forghieri had significantly improved in each of the three racing car fundamentals: engine, chassis and aerodynamics. The 330 P3/4 perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the sports prototypes of the 1960s, a decade now considered the golden era of closed wheel racing and an enduring reference point for generations of engineers and designers. The Ferrari Daytona SP3’s design is a harmonious interplay of contrasts, sublimely sculptural, voluptuous surfaces alternating with the kind of sharper lines that revealed the burgeoning importance of aerodynamics in the design of racers such as the 330 P4, 350 Can-Am and 512 S. The bold choice of a ‘Targa’ body with a removable hard top was also inspired by the sports prototype world: consequently, the Daytona SP3 not only delivers exhilarating driving pleasure but also usable performance. The name of the new Icona evokes that legendary 1-2-3 finish and pays homage to the Ferrari sports prototypes that helped earn the marque its unparalleled motor sport status. The Ferrari Daytona SP3, presented at the Mugello Circuit during the 2021 Ferrari Finali Mondiali, is a limited edition that joins the Icona series which debuted in 2018 with the Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2. Although inspired by the stylistic language of 1960s racing cars, the Daytona SP3 is clothed in very undeniably original, modern forms. Its sculptural power celebrates and interprets the sensual volumes of sports prototypes to wholly contemporary effect. It goes without saying that a design this ambitious demanded a meticulously planned and executed strategy from Chief Design Officer Flavio Manzoni and his Styling Centre team.
To give the Daytona SP3 the most exhilarating V12 on the market, Ferrari chose the 812 Competizione’s engine as its starting point, but relocated it to the mid-rear position to optimise the intake and exhaust layout as well as fluid-dynamic efficiency. The result is that the F140HC engine is the most powerful internal combustion engine ever built by Ferrari and deliver a massive 840 cv with the typical exhilarating power and sound of a Prancing Horse V12. Maximum revs of 9,500 rpm and a torque curve that rises rapidly all the way up to maximum revs gives occupants the feeling of boundless power and acceleration. Particular attention was lavished on reducing the engine’s weight and inertia by adopting titanium con rods, which are 40% lighter than steel, and the use of a different material for the pistons. The new piston pins have a Diamond Like Carbon treatment (DLC), which reduces the coefficient of friction to improve performance and fuel consumption. The crankshaft has been rebalanced and is now also now 3% lighter. The engine has a 65° vee between its cylinder banks and retains the 6.5-litre capacity of its predecessor, the F140HB, sported by the 812 Competizione from which it inherits its upgrades. All the developments enhance the performance of a powertrain that sets the new benchmark for its category thanks to its astonishing soundtrack – obtained through targeted work on both the intake and exhaust lines – and the 7-speed gearbox, which is now even faster and more satisfying than ever thanks to the development of specific strategies.
Valve opening and closing is by way of sliding finger followers, derived from F1 and developed with the aim of reducing mass and availing of more high performance valve profiles. The sliding finger followers also feature DLC coating and their function is to transmit the action of the cam (again with DLC coating) to the valve using a hydraulic tappet as the pivot for its movement. The intake system has been radically redesigned: the manifold and the plenum are now more compact to reduce the overall length of the tracts and deliver power at high revs, while the torque curve is optimised at all engine speeds by a system of variable geometry inlet tracts. The system enables the length of the intake tract assembly to be continuously varied, adapting it to the engine firing intervals to maximise the dynamic charge in the cylinder. A dedicated hydraulic system governs the actuators and is controlled by the ECU in a closed loop, adjusting the inlet tracts’ length position on the basis of the engine’s load. The management strategies for the gasoline direct injection system (GDI at 350 bar) have been further developed: it now comprises two petrol pumps, four rails with pressure sensors that provide feedback to the closed loop pressure control system and electronic injectors. Calibration of the timing and amount of fuel injected at each injection, in addition to an increase in injection pressure, have made it possible to reduce polluting emissions and particulate formation by 30% (WLTC cycle) compared to the 812 Superfast. Combined with optimised cam profiles, the variable valve timing system creates an unprecedented system of equal height pressure peaks required to obtain power at high revs without sacrificing any torque at low and medium revs. The result is a feeling of continuous, rapid acceleration, culminating in astonishing power at maximum revs. The ignition system is constantly monitored by the ECU (ION 3.1) which has an ion-sensing system that measures ionising currents to control ignition timing. It also has a single and a multi-spark function for when multiple ignitions of the air-fuel mixture are required for smooth, clean power delivery. The ECU also controls combustion in the chamber to ensure that the engine is always working at peak thermodynamic efficiency conditions, thanks to a sophisticated strategy that recognises the octane rating of the fuel in the tank.
Even the Daytona SP3’s cockpit takes its inspiration from historic Ferraris such as the 330 P3/4, the 312 P and the 350 Can-Am. Starting with an idea of a high-performance chassis, the designers crafted a meticulously refined space that delivers the comfort and sophistication of a modern Grand Tourer whilst keeping the styling language quite minimalist. It retains the philosophy behind certain styling codes: the dash, for instance, is minimalist and functional yet also entirely contemporary in feel. The typical upholstered cushions that were directly attached to the chassis on sports prototypes have been transformed into modern seats integrated into the body, creating a seamless textural continuity with the surrounding trim. The Daytona SP3’s interior aims to guarantee both driver and passenger a snug driving environment by drawing on styling cues typical of competition cars. The main idea was to broaden the cabin visually by creating a clear break between the dash area and the two seats. The latter, in fact, are part of a seamless textural continuity, their trim extending all the way to the doors, reproducing the elegant functionality typical of sports prototypes. This same extension of the trim can also be seen on the sill area when the doors are open. Several exterior elements, including the windscreen, positively influenced the interior architecture. Seen from the side, the cut of the windscreen header rail creates a vertical plane that divides the cockpit in two, separating the functional area of the dashboard that hosts the instrumentation from the seating. This architecture neatly executes the difficult feat of being both extremely sporty and very elegant at the same time. The dashboard follows the same philosophy: here the Ferrari Daytona SP3’s structure means that the trim extends all the way to the quarterlights, hugging the entire area connecting with the windscreen. The slender, taut dashboard seems almost to float within the upholstery. Its styling theme develops on two levels: the upper trimmed shell, which has a clean, sculptural look, is separated from the lower one with a clear textural and functional dividing line. All of the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) touch controls are clustered below this line.
The objective with the Daytona SP3 was to introduce aerodynamic solutions that would make this the Ferrari with the highest level of passive aero efficiency ever. This required painstaking attention to detail when designing the radiating masses for efficient heat dissipation. Management of hot air flows was thus vital to defining a layout that was as integrated as possible with the overall aerodynamic concept. Considerable research went into the design of the flanks which benefitted from the layout of the radiating masses for gearbox and engine oil being shifted towards the centre of the car. This solution paved the way for the integration of side channels into the doors, allowing the intake ducts for the radiators to be moved forwards in the chassis. As a result, the front wing creates an ideal section for the intake ducts and captures fresh air that is also highly efficient in terms of cooling the radiators. The increase in the F140HC’s engine power output meant a corresponding increase in the thermal power that had to be dissipated and thus an increase in the radiating masses for the coolant. To allow for the aerodynamics solutions required for the front end meant concentrating development on cooling efficiency first and foremost. Thus detailed work went into the design of the fan housing, the opening on the underbody to evacuate hot air and the intake duct which were all optimised to avoid having to increase the size of the front radiators.
The high level of integration of aerodynamic functions into the design is demonstrated by the engine cover, which features a central backbone structure to channel fresh air into the engine intake as well as provide outlets to vent hot air from the engine bay. The engine air intake is at the base of the backbone design to shorten the distance to the air filter and minimise losses. The longitudinal slots that separate the backbone section from the single-piece rear bodywork dissipate engine heat and capture fresh air thanks to their interaction with the vents located between the blades on the rear bumper.
The clean double-crested front wings are a nod to the sculptural elegance of past Ferrari sports prototypes of the likes of the 512 S, 712 Can-Am and 312 P. The shape of the wheelarches efficiently connotes the geometry of the flanks. At the front, they are structural and create a powerful link between wheel and well by not completely following the circular profile of the tyre. The rear flank swells out from the sylph-like waist giving rise to a powerful rear muscle that wraps around the front of the wheels, then tapers back towards the tail, lending a powerful dynamism to the three-quarter view. From the wraparound windscreen back, the Ferrari Daytona SP3’s cabin looks like a dome set into a sensual sculpture with sinuous wings emerging boldly either side. The car’s overall balance is underscored by monolithic volumes that are a powerful articulation of the long-appreciated skills of Italian coachbuilding at its finest. The fluidity of its masses melds effortlessly with sharper surfaces, to produce the sense of effortless aesthetic balance that has long been a signature of Maranello’s design history. The wing mirrors have been moved ahead of the doors to the top of the wings, recalling again the sports prototypes of the 1960s. The position was chosen to provide better visibility and reduce the impact of the wing mirrors on the air flow to the door intakes. The shape of the mirror’s cover and the stem were perfected via dedicated CFD simulations to ensure an uninterrupted flow to the intakes. Another key element is the butterfly doors, which have an air box integrated into them to channel air to the side-mounted radiators; the resulting sculptural forms give the doors a pronounced shoulder housing the air intake that is visually linked to the vertical cut of the windscreen. The pronounced surface of the doors, whose leading edge forms the rear of the front wheelarch, also helps to manage the airflow emerging from the front wheels. This surface treatment also closely recalls that of cars such as the 512 S which partly inspired the Daytona SP3’s stylistic code.
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