At the centre of the action is, of course, the twin-turbo 488, which has already proven its mettle in GTE form, winning the Pro class at Le Mans this year. Now Maranello wants some of that success to rub off on the 488s that compete in other classes of what is these days an increasingly competitive GT racing scene.
For the very serious Ferrari racer, it’s the new 488 GT3 Evo 2020. Set to compete in the main international GT championships next year, the new car was unveiled at the weekend at Mugello. How has it changed for 2020? It’s been tweaked all over, as much as the rules allow anyway and based on lessons learnt with the GT3 campaign so far.
The V8 is the same as before but even that gets a mild tweak in the form of a new management computer to deliver smoother torque and give reliability a boost for the longest events – which, as Ferrari says, these days are just as much sprint race as endurance marathon.
Inevitably it’s the car’s aero that is the focus for the Evo 2020 model. The front end design is new and combines a smaller frontal area with additional downforce-generating flicks to deliver what Ferrari says is a significant improvement in the car’s stability. In top class GT racing these days even small tweaks don’t come easily: 18,000 hours of calculations, CFD simulations and wind tunnel testing went into the new design.
Other aero changes for the Evo are larger vents on top of the wings, more tapered door sections and redesigned vents on the rear wing. The new components are available as an upgrade kit for existing cars.
Dynamically, the car benefits from a longer wheelbase (now the same as that of the GTE) and lower centre of gravity, achieved by swapping weight savings (chiefly that of a 2.4kg lighter new race seat) for equivalent ballast that’s placed lower down in the chassis.
The coolest option has to be the 24H package: 4,500 lumen LED main headlights, additional headlights, quick-fill couplings for engine oil and coolant, carbon-fibre clutch and brake callipers adopted from the GTE. Le Mans anyone?
If it’s more one-make Ferrari racing you are into, then it’s the 488 Challenge Evo you’ll be needing. The Evo package – also available as a kit to fit to existing cars – comprises all sorts of goodies but again it’s chiefly the aero that benefits. Ferrari says the new car has 50 per cent more overall downforce than the current 488 Challenge car.
Like the GT3, there’s a new front end design with longer overhang, reprofiled radiator intakes, a new U-shaped intake to feed the front brakes, a large splitter with turning vanes at the ends and the adoption of a second side flick. It all comes together for better control of the airflow and, for the first time in a Challenge car, the option to modify the front downforce independently of the rear.
The driver can thus select a high or low downforce configuration before each race, depending on the circuit's characteristics and the weather. Tailoring aero balance to the car’s dynamics, and its new Pirelli tyres, in this way was a chief consideration in developing the Evo and a big part of the reason why it turns in quicker and understeers less.
And, wouldn’t you know it, the 488 Challenge Evo looks a lot tastier, too. The Ferrari Styling Centre’s contributions here are most effective at the rear where new aero surfaces and vents include clear references to the FXX-K.
FXX-K Evo influences extend to the cabin where a new steering wheel, with integrated paddle shift, has been developed from experience gained with the FXX-K Evo and the 488 GTE. Ferrari says the new wheel significantly improves ergonomics.
New disc brakes, designed to last longer, are fitted, and following seven months of racetrack development there are new Pirelli tyres designed to deliver greater consistency in lap times during a long session.