Any Ferrari with Tour de France in its name has a lot to live up to… can the new limited edition ‘TdF’, revealed today, possibly fulfil expectations?
Well, some might consider it to be a few louvres (11 fewer to be precise) short of a Scaglietti 250 TdF of the 1950s, and here at GRR we’d take issue with the new badge: ‘F12tdf’ in Ferrari-speak, when we reckon it should be F12 TdF. But really, we’re splitting hairs…
Otherwise… wow. Double-wow in fact. The F12 TdF (we’re sticking with what we like…) looks more than capable of justifying its place as the first Ferrari to use the Tour de France moniker since Ferrari dominated the event with nine wins through the 1950s and ‘60s.
For this particular badge a prerequisite was always going to be a long wheelbase berlinetta with a stonking V12 up front and the fastest, most able F12 doesn’t disappoint. In one regard it certainly intrigues, though: in a hi-tech twist it comes with something Ferrari is calling the Virtual Short Wheelbase.
Back in the day the original Tour de France begat the 250 Short Wheelbase (and others including the 250 GTO of course) but whereas that had 200mm physically lopped out of the chassis the ‘VSW’ comes with… rear-wheel steering. Ferrari asserts it does pretty much the same job in combining track-car turn-in with increasing high-speed stability on the road, ‘to enable even gentlemen drivers to make full use of the performance’. Which is a bit patronising but we know what they mean.
This ‘active’ rear axle allows the rear wheels to pivot around a vertical axis with steering angles automatically applied (yup, a computer) depending on steering wheel angle, speed of steering inputs and vehicle speed. Along with wider tracks, bigger front tyres (275s instead of 255) and a whole load more downforce, lateral acceleration and agility are improved but, says Ferrari, without the scary high-speed oversteer that you might expect to accompany such changes.
What else has been changed to make a modern-day Tour de France? Quite a lot. Ferrari says the car amounts to a ‘radical redesign’ with bodywork (all panels revised), aerodynamics (GT racer-derived underbody strakes, new Aerobridge, bigger spoiler, revised splitter), interior, engine, transmission and running gear all being TdF’ed. Plus, there is, of course, lots more carbon-fibre.
The result is a car a mighty 110kg lighter than a standard F12 and with a barely believable 87 per cent more downforce at speed. Plus it’s shorter geared (by six per cent), the F1 DCT ‘box can swap cogs quicker (30 per cent faster upchanges, 40 pc brisker downchanges), and the engine has more power and torque.
Turbos? With a red line at 8900rpm? You have to be joking. This is classic normally-aspirated Ferrari V12, all 6262cc of it (one of the last? ed). New bits include mechanical tappets and variable geometry intake trumpets, just like Formula 1 – but, in all probability, it’ll sound a whole lot nicer.
The F12 TdF ‘gentleman’ driver now has an entirely sufficient 780PS (that’s a real 770bhp, 40 horses up on the standard car) available at 8500rpm, with an equally satisfying 520 lb ft at 6750rpm.
You don’t have to ask if it’s fast but we’ll tell you anyway: 0-62mph in 2.9secs, 0-126mph in 7.9secs, 211mph flat out and a lap of Fiorano in 1min 21sec, more than a match for the 458 Speciale and around five seconds faster than the previous front-engined V12 heavyweight, the 599 GTO. One-piece brake calipers from LaFerrari clamp the thing into the tarmac – 126mph to standstill in under 400ft (121m) sounds impressive to us.
The Ferrari Tour de France is back! A worthy follow up? It looks good to us, and certainly as a berlinetta remains true to the original’s race car/road car ethos and ticks the boxes. Ferrari says it’s a limited edition but with 799 to be built there should be enough to go round, even at a price to be announced.
Then again, perhaps not.
Photography courtesy of Ferrari