Under the skin
Racecar Engineering|April 2020
While you might be hard-pressed to tell the 488 Evo apart from its predecessor the devil really is in the detail, and out on track Ferrari’s new GT3 is said to be easier to drive and ultimately quicker. Racecar went to Maranello to find out more
ANDREW COTTON
Unlike the newer cars of many of its rivals, the difference between Ferrari’s GT3 Evo version of the 488 and the 2019 version is not immediately obvious. In fact, a squint at the front bumper and front wheel arches will give the only external visual clues that this is a new car, a dive plane inserted into the recess in the bumper ahead of the front wheel while at the rear of the front wheel arch there is some wind tunnel-inspired trickery that was designed to increase frontal downforce. Other than that there is little to give the game away.

The reason for this curious lack of external change is that, according to its head of GT Track Car Development, Ferdinando Cannizzo, Ferrari itself was struggling to figure out what to do in order to update the original car. The previous model was already performing well, was close to the edge of the ‘performance windows’ specified by the FIA and had come close to winning titles. In terms of overall performance, there was little that the design team felt that it needed to do.

Yet, as always in racing, it turned out there were a few tweaks that would improve the car, after all and Ferrari, of course, decided to get stuck in. In doing so it has created a car that is easier to drive, better to race and above all, quicker. Ferrari hopes this will convince customers to part with cash to upgrade their existing car or, better still, buy a new one.

Changes to aero configuration improve the balance and make the car more raceable, particularly in traffic, while improvements to vehicle dynamics and cockpit ergonomics make it easier for the driver to compete over long distances, which can be up to 24 hours at Intercontinental GT races such as Spa.

But the performance gain has really come from the electronics within the car, particularly in the area of engine management, traction and braking, and Ferrari hopes that this will also help the car perform better in the wet.

Comfort zone

Because of the tight constraints of the GT3 regulations and the balancing of performance, all manufacturers involved have focused on improving driver comfort. This seems to be the antithesis of a racing car; a driver should put up with any discomfort that would get in the way of performance. However, in today’s customer-focused world racecars are designed for the amateur driver rather than the professional, which has led to some rather dull updates that involve moving switches in the cockpit and so on. Ferrari has done something similar, proudly announcing that it has cut 2.4kg from its driver seat and not only that, but it has also developed an extra-large seat (XL) for the ‘taller’ driver.

Thankfully, however, Ferrari did also go for improved performance, but not in a conventional way, for while it piled on the downforce at the front, it also had to take it off again in order to stay within the performance windows in which all GT cars are balanced.

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