F1 Superfast gearbox
One of the unique strengths of the current Ferrari range is the F1-type gearbox. This was taken a step further in the design of the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano resulting in the astonishing F1-SuperFast. The new gearbox's name encompasses the two key concepts behind its design: the fact that it is derived from the ultra-competitive world of Formula 1 and the faster-than-ever gear shifting times it delivers. In fact, it is one of the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano's most innovative and exclusive features and is yet another world first on a roadgoing car. In traditional automatic gearboxes, the various operations involved in gear shifting are performed sequentially as follows: lifting off and declutching; disengaging, selecting and engaging the gear; letting the clutch out as power is fed back in. It follows therefore that the gear changing time should be calculated according to the time necessary to complete the three gear changing operations in sequence - the so-called acceleration gap - rather just as the time it takes to engage the gear. However, in a significant leap forward, the F1-SuperFast's absolutely innovative integrated engine and gearbox management programme allows the combined disengaging/engaging of the gears partly in parallel with letting the clutch in and out.
The result is that overall gear-shift times are cut to 100 ms in high performance and super-high performance situations. This important achievement (a first for a production car) comes courtesy of the fact that the elastic energy within the transmission components is used to speed up gear chang times What happens in practice is that engaging and disengaging of the gears occurs slightly ahead of the clutch being let out or in when the speed of rotation of the input shaft approaches that of the output shaft. Because of the F1-SuperFast’s structure, actually engaging the gear is completed in a breathtaking 40 ms.
The F1-SuperFast intervenes as a function of engine rev speed and the position of the accelerator pedal. The sportier the driving conditions, the faster the gear changing. The result is absolutely exceptional driving pleasure at all times. In fact, even day-to-day driving is smooth and comfortable as the gear changing strategy is controlled by the new generation Sofast3. The "acceleration gap" delivered by the 575M Maranello's F1 gearbox was 250 ms, a figure that was slashed to just 150 ms courtesy of the Sofast3 in the F430. Now, however, the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano boasts an acceleration gap that approaches that delivered by the Prancing Horse's Formula 1 single-seaters. Nonetheless, the F1-SuperFast also allows the driver to select the Automatic Mode button for even more comfortable driving.
However, whenever the driver wants to really give vent to the high performance character of the car, typically out on the track, he can simply select Launch Control (not available in North America) which offers smoother starts from standstill.
The F1 gearbox is controlled by the driver using the now traditional steering wheel-mounted Ferrari paddles (UP on the right to go up through the gears and DOWN on the left to go down). The reverse and other secondary gearbox commands are set in a new central tunnelmounted panel. Alternately, owners may choose to have a manual gearbox with the classic Ferrari "gate" and aluminium gear stick knob.
The Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano boasts a transaxle layout with new twin-disc clutch in unit with the engine, steel driveshaft and rear-mounted transaxle gearbox with aluminium casing. Although the twin-plate clutch was debuted on the 8-cylinder berlinettas, this is the first time it has been used on a Ferrari 12-cylinder berlinetta.
It not only reduces external bulk (clutch casing from 300 mm to 250 mm), but also disc diameters (from 272 mm to 215 mm) and weight (from 10 kg to 9 kg), producing the following benefits:
- reduced engine inertia which helps reach maximum revs and guarantees improved pick-up. In order to achieve a better weight-performance ratio, Avional, an aluminium alloy developed specifically for aeronautical applications, was used for the casing;
- optimised weight distribution with a lower centre of gravity which delivers improved performance;
- higher thermal inertia which translates into better heat distribution (reduced wear and tear, improved reliability) and less likelihood of overheating. This in turn improves clutch performance in stop-go driving in traffic.
The steel tube housing the driveshaft was designed both to cut weight and to improve the rigidity of the engine unit. With an external diameter of 125 mm and a wall thickness of 4 mm, the resulting resonance frequency is 42 Hz (25 Hz in the 575M Maranello) for a quieter ride.
This is a six-speed (plus reverse) gearbox with triple-cone synchronisers on first and second gears and double-cone synchronisers on the others. The gear ratios and specifically the final drive ratio, were designed to work with the new 20"/35 rear wheels to optimise gearing to deliver the breathtaking acceleration and top speeds of a genuine Ferrari thoroughbred sports car. To cope with the performance guaranteed by the new F1-SuperFast gearshift software, the gear selector forks have been redesigned and are now in pressed steel (C43) instead of cast iron, while the fork rods are manufactured using new microcasting techniques. Apart from making them more durable, this also lightens the entire system. This is a limited-slip differential specially calibrated to reduce slip in different measures depending on whether the car is accelerating (25%) or on lift-off (45%), and to optimise both traction and stability whatever the use.