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Paying tribute

06 marzo 2019

Chris Rees

The inside story of the F8 Tributo, an homage to the V8 twin-turbo engine that won the 'Best of the Best' engine award

“Even by the standards of this V8, our ‘Special Series’ 488 Pista engine is stunning,” says Project Team Leader Emmanuele Raveglia. The first time he ever drove a 488 Pista, he immediately thought:  'why don’t we put this engine into a berlinetta like the 488?’. The idea for the F8 Tributo was born. But, he stresses, the project has been very much a Ferrari team effort, headed up by: Carlo Palazzani (design), Marzio Maresi (engine and gearbox), Ivan Moranzoni (external trim), Salvatore de Angelis (interior trim) and Fabrizio Fontana (vehicle testing engineer).

Marzio Maresi – engine - says: “To fulfil new emissions and noise regulations, we needed to change the exhaust. That meant changing various engine parts and revalidating the engine, driveability and sound.” The only visible changed parts are the new aluminium intake manifold, and exhaust. Mechanical engineer Fontana adds: “we had to achieve the right sound with the new exhaust. We worked for six months together as a team, to create the best sound possible, both inside and outside the cabin.”

Palazzani – design - explains: “The number of alterations is very high compared to a normal evolution. All the bodywork, aside from the doors and rear flanks, is new. And the design doesn’t just come from the styling department. Ferrari is not a normal company in this respect: every member of the team has input.” “Styling”, insists Raveglia, “is as much part of the car’s performance as is engine horsepower.” His job is to encompass the three key elements - performance, time, cost. “Every Ferrari is like this: design is performance.”

Moranzoni - exterior trim - picks out the headlamps: “Carlo asked for the smallest possible headlamps, so we used new LED technology to allow space for a cooling air intake above the lights.” The double rear lights hark back to classic models of the past. The  ‘floating’ rear spoiler is actually fixed, but downforce is still equal to or better than that of rivals. The front S-Duct system helps improve aerodynamic downforce by 10 per cent over the 488 GTB.

Moranzoni moves to the back of the car to indicate the transparent Lexan engine cover. Cut-out louvres echo the Ferrari F40. “This was a great challenge”, he says, “as it’s the first time a car has had a one-piece transparent engine cover.” The louvres feature epitomises the co-operative heart of the project. “We had to work together on performance, visibility, homologation and stiffness,” says Maresi. “The louvres are functional, helping extract air from the engine bay.”

The interior is the realm of Salvatore de Angelis, whose 42 years of working with cars makes him the most experienced team member. Every part of the dashboard, door panels and tunnel has been renewed, joined by new-generation air vents, reshaped steering wheel, new seat trim and 8.5-inch passenger touchscreen. “One challenge is that I’m last in the line in terms of the development process,” says de Angelis, “so much depends on my teammates. It’s important to say that I don’t work alone.”

Chassis dynamics exploit the very best of what the engine can do. Fontana explains: “This car has to be an everyday car, more usable than the 488 Pista, so we concentrated hard on the dampers to help make use of all the power. And behind each setting on the steering wheel manettino, there’s a lot of thought.” For example, a new 'Wet' setting keeps the car feeling safe even when at full power. Finally, Raveglia succintly sums up: “With the F8 Tributo, we all understood that we’re moving from the 488 towards the future.”