Ferrari 812 Competizione test: 9,500 laps of pleasure
Maranello, a small town in Emilia Romagna where 4,000 employees work for the most famous automobile company in the world. In addition to their skills and their love for the machine, some show a certain originality. Not just in terms of dress – a tradition in Italy. Thus, these two young designers, a Luxembourger and a Frenchman, proudly leaving the den at the wheel of a Fiat Panda 30 from the 1980s, immaculate! Or this other Frenchman, defector from Alpine and specialist in ground connections, who kindly lent his personal A110 so that his cabin could be digitized!
We had the privilege of visiting the Classiche department, where some jewels belonging to private collectors transported us to the history of Cavallino Rampante. And also the aluminum and steel workshop where the hearts – V8 and V12 – of the (not always) red cars are shaped at a rate of 60 to 65 per day. Or even one of the design rooms where we fell in love with the new and sculptural 296 GTB, whose airy line pays homage to certain great classics. If we were impressed by such know-how, such technology and even sometimes moved by the beauty of these four-wheeled sculptures, neither our breath nor our heart changed rhythm. It was quite different the next day, once at the wheel of the 812 Competizione on the Fiorano circuit, at the foot of the house where the Commendatore had his office.
On this early afternoon in late November, the place is surprisingly calm. In the paddock, a few mechanics are busy around three racing cars, one red and two yellow, to check the tire pressure and give their nostrils a final wipe. Tense muscles, the Competizione look like beasts ready to pounce. Helmeted and securely harnessed in the superb leather bucket seat, we set off for a warm-up lap behind the in-house driver-instructor. At this pace, the V12 has just emitted a small rattle at startup before being – almost – forgotten, the robotic box shelling its reports nonchalantly. The docility of the beast is disconcerting. At the end of this first lap, without warning, our driver let go of his red racing car. The least politeness is to fit its wheels. Finally try.
The guttural sound of the two V12s echo each other...
Manettino in Race mode and manual gearbox, all you have to do is press the right pedal without forgetting to shift up a gear with a simple flick, on the right paddle. Easy. Then don't forget to hit the center pedal when the red brake lights come on. Too easy. But already our instructor's warnings are flashing. End of 4 rounds. Frustration. Fortunately another session awaits us. The opportunity to go to the edge of the track to see our colleagues evolve. The guttural sound of the two echoing V12s pays vibrant homage to all those who have gone before them in history. A sound of crystalline purity obtained despite the particle filters supposed to break their vocal cords. At Ferrari, music is part of the DNA.
Reworked in depth to optimize aerodynamics – an obsession at Ferrari – the bodywork, which is a little too "bodybuilt" for our taste, delivers all its beauty once in motion. Screwed to the bitumen, the Competizione evolve at such speed and with such ease that they remind us of the spectacle that we had, as a child, of our Scalextric circuit, lying on the carpet of our room! Unreal. Back on track for a second series of 4 laps during which we are determined to take advantage of what is undoubtedly the last naturally aspirated V12 in Ferrari's history. If its displacement of 6,496 cm3 remains unchanged, its maximum speed gains 500 turns to reach a surreal 9,500 turns. A record. The power gains meanwhile 30 hp to reach 830. This is the most powerful road V12 ever homologated for the road! 2''85 to reach 100 km/h and 7''5 for 200 km/h. The numbers speak for themselves. To achieve such a feat, almost everything has been modified: the connecting rods are made of titanium (40% lighter than steel), the pistons, the crankshaft (3% lighter), the distribution have been changed. The intake manifold – with variable geometry – is more compact, the ducts shorter, the torque curve (692 Nm at 7,000 rpm, of which 80% from 2,500 rpm) has been optimized, a new “ variable displacement” permanently adjusts the oil pressure, making it more fluid. In short, a titanic job has made this V12 even more demonic.
The thrust of the V12 seems infinite…
Despite the fact that we are not allowed to approach the short straight of the circuit at full speed (!), the tachometer indicates 224 km/h before braking. No time to break the toy. The thrust of the V12 seems infinite, optimized by the devilish shift times of the robotized transmission, further reduced by 5%. If we tease the switch for the simple pleasure of hearing, the V12 is largely satisfied with 8,500 revolutions. We try to get closer to our instructor of the day by delaying our braking. The carbon-ceramics laugh, which offer consistency worthy of a racing car thanks to further improved cooling by aerodynamic calipers allowing the oil temperature to be lowered by 30°. We re-accelerate earlier and earlier when exiting corners, thus highlighting a devilish agility and motricity which just result in sober and precise drifts of the butt.
In addition to its magneto-rheological damping, its electronic differential and its 4-wheel steering, the Competizione has a secret weapon: small electric motors vary the toe angle of each of the rear wheels, independently, according to a maximum angle of 2.15 °, modifying the wheelbase on the way, poetically baptized “virtual short wheelbase 3.0”. Not only is agility and braking stability increased, but steering effort in corners is reduced. All this is accompanied by equally titanic work on the aerodynamics, never to this extent optimized on a road Ferrari. Let us mention, among others, the carbon blade that bars the front bonnet and allows the hot air to be evacuated from the radiator, the aluminum rear window, totally closed, with Vortex generators, an effect that is also found on the sides, or even the rectangular exhaust outlets, at the corners of the bumper which, as on the F1s of the 2010s, generate a dynamic interaction between the exhaust gases and the rear diffusers, to the benefit of the downforce, increased by 35% … Not to mention a reduced weight of 38 kilos thanks, in large part, to the use of carbon, including for the optional rims, offered for the first time on a V12. All this for what ? To gain 1''5 per lap over the 3.021 km of the Fiorano circuit, completed – very exactly – in 1'20''. Knowing that the absolute record remains held, in 2004, by a certain Michael S. with 55''999! On good terms, ciao!
This 812 Competizione sublimates the atmospheric V12 and makes it even easier to exploit its exceptional potential. Too late to draw your checkbook, the 999 coupés and the 599 Aperta (Targa) have all already been sold.
We love less
Engine: 65° V12, 48 valves, petrol direct injection, variable valve timing, 6,496 cc, stop & start Transmission: rear-wheel drive, 4-wheel steering, robotised 7-speed dual-clutch, electronic self-locking differential Power (hp at rpm) : 830 hp at 9,250 Torque (Nm at rpm): 692 at 7,000 Lxwxh (m): 4.69×1.97×1.28 Weight (kg): 1,487 Fuel tank: 92 liters 0 to 100 km /h: 2''85 0 to 200 km/h: 7''5 Lap time at Fiorano: 1'20'' Maximum speed: more than 340 Front/rear tyres: 275/35 R 20 / 315/35 R 20 Average consumption (manufacturer) (l/100 km): nc CO2 (g)/malus: nc Price: €499,000 (Aperta: €578,000)
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