And how did it get its name anyways?
Like its owners, Ferrari is a company with healthy amounts of ego. Deadmau5 was told to clean up his “Purrari” Ferrari 458 Spider because Ferrari didn’t like how the car represented the brand. It also named its halo car “The Ferrari.” Kanye West is probably pissed he didn’t think of that first because if he now tried to name his next album “The Kanye,” Ferrari would send him a cease and desist letter too. However, unlike Kanye, Ferrari has a right to its ego, especially so with the clever engineering and design of the LaFerrari.
All that most people know about the car is that it looks weird and goes really fast, but what is behind the condescending Italian frown? The most unique feature of this car is the KERS system. The acronym stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System, which originated in Formula 1 racing cars. It may seem counterintuitive to add heavy batteries and electric motors to a lightweight racing car, but the brainpower at Ferrari used this handicap to make the car faster. To make the LaFerrari a monster at cornering, the weighty parts of the car were kept inside of the wheelbase. Packaging the human occupants, engine, and the hybrid drivetrain inside of this small space is a miracle, but Ferrari managed to do this by building the seat right into the chassis.
The battery pack sits right behind the driver’s tailbone and the engine is pushed slightly back from the battery and has a seat behind the driver’s shoulders. Placing heavy batteries low in the car means that the KERS system actually helps to keep things inside of the wheelbase and drops the vehicle’s center of gravity more than a conventional engine-only drivetrain would. The battery pack, assembled in the Scuderia racing offices, produces the power of 40 standard car batteries and is cooled by refrigerant gas. The engine is designed to work with the system too. Instead of having a broad range of torque delivery, peak twist comes at higher RPM while the electric motor takes care of the low-end torque delivery.
It’s not like Ferrari skimped on the 6.3-liter V12 engine either, it also gets a host of high tech engineering. Not many engines can tout internal aerodynamic features but this one can with crankshaft aerodynamic masking and counter webs that reduce ventilation loss. The inlet ducts on the engine are continuously variable to allow for maximum efficiency at different loads. Controlling the system and its variations in power delivery between the engine and electric motors is the Hybrid Power Unit. The efforts of this tiny brain unify the two power sources and enable the car to cut emissions by 50% and improve response times by 100%. The hybrid system is smart enough to pull off its own tricks by working with the traction control system.
While cornering, engine revs are kept high (but not quite at the 9,250 RPM redline) to enable quick corner exits. When the apex is cleared and the driver hits the throttle, torque flows to the rear tires and rockets the car away. If too much torque happens to find its way to the P Zero Corsas, the traction control diverts the engine power to recharging the battery instead of cutting engine power and losing precious RPMs like most other traction control systems do. All of this gets packaged neatly under a stiff body shell that is made of four different types of carbon fiber. Sills with ultra-high tensile strength carbon fiber stick out of the side to absorb crash energy and keep weight low. This extensive use of carbon fiber has some great payoffs too.
For one, it allows the LaFerrari to be very stiff, but it also boasts a 20% lighter weight than the last generation Enzo. Aiding stability are flaps on the underbody that adjust and turn the car into an upside down airplane wing during braking and cornering or make it smooth as a bullet on the straights. Without the help of Pininfarina, the styling house responsible for most Ferraris, these elements all get combined into the aerodynamic arrowhead shape that we recognize as LaFerrari. The name, in ex-Ferrari CEO Luca Montezemolo’s own words, is supposed to be “the maximum expression of what defines the company-excellence.” By the looks of it, the LaFerrari earns its arrogant name.