by Jay Traugott
The Ferrari 488 Pista is the direct descendent of previous track-focused mid-engine V8 Ferraris, specifically the 360 Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and the 458 Speciale. Like those brilliant machines, the 488 Pista, unveiled to the world at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, was developed with knowledge taken from Ferrari’s work in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Beginning with the “standard” 488 GTB, Ferrari turned this acclaimed supercar into its most powerful and advanced special series vehicle in its history.
But first, what does ‘Pista’ even mean? That’s easy: ‘Track’, in Italian. With those lessons taken from the WEC, Ferrari went to work and, as expected, cutting weight and adding power were the two primary goals. Beginning with the 488 GTB’s already insanely powerful twin-turbo 3.9-liter V8 rated at 661 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque, power has been increased to an astonishing 710 hp at 8000 rpm and 568 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Think about those numbers for a moment. There are several $1 million + hypercars in existence with that level of power, and yet the 488 Pista will certainly cost less. Wow. Just wow. Performance? Ridiculous. Try 0 to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, 0 to 124 mph in 7.6 seconds and a top speed in excess of 211 mph.
Ferrari claims the V8 has more than 50-percent new components compared to the version in the 488 GTB. Once again, all of that power is directed to the rear wheels through the F1-derived dual-clutch gearbox, though shift times have been shortened. But here’s the thing when increasing output: the engine requires even more cooling. Among many solutions, Ferrari utilized the Challenge car’s inverted radiator cooling system, where the radiators turned rearwards instead of forward like in the 488 GTB. Doing so not only improves cooling but also contributes to optimal performance in “high thermal stress situations.”
Improving aerodynamics was also essential, and Ferrari told us at Geneva that while its competitors often like to add external aero, it prefers to cut parts of the body out entirely. This strategy comes from both WEC and Formula 1, and you can see its application throughout. Just look at the front hood and how it literally dips down just ahead of the front bumper. There’s a significant chunk of metal missing here compared to the 488 GTB. Ferrari calls this new innovation the S-Duct, and it’s really quite impressive. How it works: Air from the intake on the front bumper passes through an aerodynamic duct and then exits through a hood vent, thus creating downforce over the front axle.
Ferrari said that the entire front end required a redesign and that this is the first time this S-Duct has been used in a road car (it’ll certainly not be the last). The front intake also features a central lower wing profile that also serves as a splitter, thanks its curvature that helps to accelerate flow and increase the amount of air passing through the S-Duct. In short, everything but the headlamps were redesigned up front. Also notice that the new carbon fiber side sills allow for the elimination of metal. The new dolphin-tail fixed rear spoiler and diffuser profiles also increase efficiency by 20 percent compared to the 488 GTB.
The lithium battery, sourced from the 488 Challenge, and carbon fiber wheel rims also contribute to the nearly 200 pounds shaved off from the 488 GTB. Compared to the 488 GTB, the 488 Pista is 0.3 inches lower, 0.9 inches wider, and 1.5 inches shorter. The exterior also features a two-tone stripe that runs the entire length of the car, beginning at the front bumper, dipping into the S-Duct and continuing all the way to the rear spoiler. Step inside to what can also be described as marvelous with touches of elegant madness. Although the basic overall design differs little from the 488 GTB’s layout, there’s greater use of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and Alcantara.
Contrasting hand-stitching and the must-have, race-inspired aluminum tread plates and heel rests in a triangular pattern are present as well. All told, the 488 Pista has a dry weight of just 2,822 pounds, nearly 199 pounds less than the 488 GTB. Although official test drives have yet to get underway, Ferrari promises a driving experience unlike any other of its mid-engined V8s. One of the most interesting methods utilized in order to allow drivers to experience the car’s full potential is the updated Side-Slip Angle Control system. The SSC incorporates vital systems such as E-Diff3, F1-Trac and the highly acclaimed magnetorheological suspension system and, for the first time, the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer.
This latter system uses special software to adjust the brake pressure at the calipers. When it comes to the competition, the Ferrari 488 Pista will face off against a small and very exclusive club that includes the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, with its also upgraded engine, a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V10, now rated at 631 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. The Lambo is not only as fast to 62 as the 488 Pista, but it’s also proven itself on track as well. For a time, it held the Nurburgring record for the world’s fastest production car. It was later beaten by the 700-hp Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Another formidable foe will be the 710-hp McLaren 720S, though a hardcore version of it has yet to launch.
Not to be outdone, Ferrari claims the 488 Pista managed a 1:21.5 lap time around its Fiorano test track. That’s a full 1.5 seconds faster than the 488 GTB, and nearly as fast as the V12-powered 812 Superfast. Ferrari has yet to release official pricing, but it’s reasonable to expect starting prices to begin at over $300,000. Ferrari also has yet to mention anything about production output, but like the 458 Speciale, the final production count will be fairly limited. Ferraris, notably special ones such as this, will surely increase in value in the years to come. Once again, Ferrari has changed the rules of the supercar game.
It was not too long ago when specs such as these came only from the likes of Pagani and other high-end hypercars. Not anymore. The new Ferrari 488 Pista is sheer proof that a track-derived, mid-engined twin-turbo V8 supercar has near hypercar performance potential.