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A new design tradition

24 marzo 2020

Silvia Baruffaldi

Many hands were involved in sketching the Ferrari Roma, Maranello’s newest GT. We meet the design team who developed its new, timeless, aesthetic

A gentleman driver’s car, a Formula 1 in black tie, the epitome of la dolce vita: many varied definitions abounded as, last December, the Ferrari Roma made its debut in the heart of the Eternal City. But to truly understand the spirit of this elegant Grand Tourer, we need to go back to the place where it was first conceived: the Centro Stile Ferrari in Maranello. Here is where we meet Ferrari Chief Design Officer Flavio Manzoni, who designed the Roma in collaboration with his creative team.

“We had been wanting to create very formally pure Ferrari tourers for some time. Elegant, refined cars with lines kept as sober as possible and influenced as little as possible by the technical requirements,” Manzoni explains.

The Ferrari Roma hails the start of a whole new direction for Maranello’s output, characterised by a very sharp dichotomy between two important models launched in 2019: on the one hand, pure-blooded sports cars, like the SF90 Stradale; on the other hand more classical gran turismo models, represented by the Ferrari Roma. “We wanted to make this a completely unequivocal distinction. There will be no more intermingling of the two types of car,” Manzoni adds.

Whilst performance requirements quite literally dictate the lines of supercars, in GTs the emphasis is instead on the kind of design purity that results in a sense of effortless elegance. Yet as all designers are only too well aware, formal simplicity is actually one of the most difficult things to achieve. The process involved in achieving it is never itself straightforward. “We worked long and hard on the shape of the cabin volume to make the car even sleeker, characterised by a prominent ‘shark nose’ look and a set-back A-pillar,” explains head of Advanced Design, Matteo De Petris.

According to Manzoni, the exterior theme is a rarefied design featuring very few lines. “It’s almost a single pencil stroke, resulting in a car that seems sketched by reflections.” Its dynamic forms appear as if sculpted from a single block of metal.

The Ferrari Roma’s lights are another of its stylistic surprises. “They had to be simple, modern and minimal, but also extremely characteristic,” explains Francesco Russo, Exterior Lead Designer. By way of example Russo points to the tail lights: “We kept the core graphic of the signature Ferrari twin round tail light assembly but turned it into a groove in the surface so that the lights look like gems set into the bodywork.”

Fabio Massari, Interior Lead Designer, observes:  “The process of designing the cabin of the Ferrari Roma - a  more GT-oriented version of the entirely digital user interface debuted on the SF90 Stradale - only began when the exterior architecture had been finalised, as the fastback volume greatly influences the cabin spaces.”

The 3D modelling team also played a pivotal role.  “We did a great deal of virtual work before moving on to physical models which in turn led to new digital refinements,” explains Emanuel Salvatore, head of Virtual Modelling & Visualization. Salvatore Della Ventura, Lead Virtual Modeler, adds “What we might consider simple forms are actually the most difficult to model. There are large surfaces to work on and you have to put the emphasis on the lights and reflections all over the car.”

The entire design team has learned a great deal from working on the Ferrari Roma, which is the first in a new family of Ferrari GT cars inspired by the formal purity of the legendary 250 GT, and, of course, the recently-launched Monza SP. Andrea Militello, who as head of GT Cars Exterior Design oversaw the exteriors of last year’s GT range, explains: “My job is to evolve this dynasty of cars which has its roots in the 1950s and ‘60s, in the GTs crafted around chassis and engines that were designed to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and also sold to Hollywood stars after being bodied very elegantly by the coachbuilders. But underneath, they were still racing cars. This is sort of the same spirit.”

All p​hotographic and video content of the above article was created prior to the Covid-19 emergency and related Government decrees