LaFerrari not man enough for you? Ferrari thought the same and created the FXXK…
We’ve discussed carbon fibre; now we’re talking concrete. This isn’t a wholly unexpected conversational U-turn from Flavio Manzoni, given that Ferrari’s Sardinian design director trained as an architect in Florence.
He’s not an abstract thinker and you won’t find Flavio at the fluffier end of the design spectrum. When it comes to cars like Ferrari’s FXXK, this is a good thing.
“Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava,” he says, citing two modern architectural masters. “Pier Luigi Nervi, who Italians refer to as an ingegnere edile [building engineer], did amazing things with reinforced concrete. His work demonstrates a strong combination of sculpture and engineering. I like that.”
There’s no better way to sum up Manzoni’s approach. Five years ago, Ferrari wrested control of its visual creative back from Pininfarina, Maranello’s chosen couturier since a celebrated meeting between Enzo Ferrari and Battista Farina in 1951, and set up its own Centro Stile under Manzoni.
Since then, he’s won the famous Compasso d’Oro for the F12 Berlinetta, and his team has genetically modified Ferrari’s hypercar bloodline to stunning effect with the LaFerrari. But even that somehow pales in comparison with the monster you see here, the FXXK, the car that Manzoni quietly regards as CS’s greatest achievement so far. This is sculpture and engineering on an unimaginable scale.
Let’s recap. The FXXK is the latest product of Ferrari’s Corse Clienti division, a limited-run track-only mobile laboratory for the super-rich strata of the company’s customer base that prefers to operate at the bleeding edge of high performance, rather than commission a one-off SP (special projects) car or run a decommissioned Formula One machine.
When Ferrari announced the FXX programme a decade ago, some scoffed at the notion of a £1m-plus track car, stored by Ferrari and ferried to different circuits around the world, never mind the idea of using owners as guinea pigs for new technology. But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Ferrari ought to be very flattered indeed by McLaren’s P1 GTR and Aston Martin’s Vulcan.
Typically, the FXXK has the jump on them. A power output of 1,035bhp provokes memories of insane Eighties F1 cars, and if that figure falls short of the Veyron in sheer Top Trumps terms, remember that the Bugatti is lugging the equivalent of an Alfa 4C in excess baggage.
The FXXK has 101bhp more than the regular LaF, with 848bhp generated by the 6.3-litre V12 and the remaining 187bhp ponied up by the electric motor. The combustion engine has new camshafts, reworked intake manifolds and an exhaust system that junks the silencers. Watch the video online of the car’s debut at Ferrari World Finals last November in Abu Dhabi, and you won’t need to worry about dislodging any recalcitrant ear wax.
No word yet on how quickly it gets around Yas Marina, or exactly how much harder and faster it accelerates, but we do know that it takes an enormous chunk out of the LaF’s lap at Fiorano – five seconds, in fact, to record a 1:14 time. Bespoke Pirelli slick rubber and 1,000bhp-plus can do that to a place.
Inside, four new manettino settings (Qualify, Long Run, Manual Boost and Fast Charge) harness conventional and hybrid power sources to optimise performance over short or longer periods. An extra five-position manettino governs the E-diff, traction control and Side Slip Angle Control system – although Sebastian Vettel appeared to quickly dispense with the software safety net during his run in the car earlier this year. (“I did a half-spin,” he admitted sheepishly.)
But it’s the FXXK’s remarkable body and aero dynamism that most commands your attention. On TG’s visit to Ferrari’s design hangar, in the heart of the Maranello citadel, a full-size clay model of something new was being hurriedly covered up in the background. So comprehensively does the FXXK hoover up your eyeballs that they really needn’t have bothered.
Its aero configuration is where Ferrari’s Formula One learning and a decade of FXX development lead to a big pay-off. Upfront, a beautifully complex splitter sits 30mm closer to the ground. End plates and vertical fins help channel air along the side of the car.
Yet more fins on the side skirts improve the airflow towards and over the rear wheels. At the rear is arguably the car’s most innovative and eye-catching feature: a pair of unusually abbreviated rear fins that work in harness with the LaFerrari’s ingenious active rear spoiler.
In low-drag mode, the FXXK has double the downforce of what we must laughably refer to as the ‘standard’ car. When it’s in maximum-attack, full-aero mode, it generates another 30 per cent.
Tellingly, Manzoni cites the mid-Sixties 330 P3/4 racing car as his favourite Ferrari – “an amazing beast, my God… and a car consistent with the importance of synergy between functionality and beauty” – but, even so, surely the FXXK is too much of a weapon to qualify as beautiful, as all Ferraris are required by international law to be.