The gearing is also unchanged. Typically, a more powerful and lighter car can accommodate taller ratios. However, Dini says: “We didn’t want to compromise the car’s response in any way by making the gearing taller.”
‘Response’ is a word that gets redefined when you drive the Pista. Off the line, it leaps forward with the tiniest flex of your right ankle and you can control the progressive throttle with millimetric precision. By artificially reducing torque in the lower gears and unleashing the full 568lb ft in seventh gear only, power is delivered with the linearity of a naturally aspirated engine. Turbo lag? If there was a whiff of it in the GTB, it has been completely snuffed out in the Pista.
Acceleration is simply brutal and it took me half a lap of Fiorano to adjust to the ferocity of the power.
It feels noticeably quicker than the GTB, especially in the mid-range, where the torque hits you like a sledgehammer. The engine revs so fast and freely that the shift lights on the steering wheel are constantly illuminated. In manual mode, the sudden rush of power and revs keeps slamming you against the 8000rpm cut-off. If only this engine had another 1000rpm to play with. But to make every last rev count, Ferrari has given the Pista a ‘wall’ limiter that is set to abruptly cut power at exactly 8000rpm and not progressively reduce it as you near the redline.
Handling? It’s at another level altogether. The Pista takes the flawless dynamics of the 488 GTB and enhances it with more grip and agility. The steering is very quick, especially off-centre, and super-accurate, which allows you to explore the brilliantly balanced chassis.
In slow corners, there’s a wee bit of feel-safe understeer dialled in but overall the Pista feels remarkably neutral. It can be deftly balanced on the throttle even in the relatively restrictive Sport mode. Turn the manettino to CT-OFF and you’re in ‘hero’ mode, where the latest version of Ferrari’s Slide Slip Control (SSC) lets you get impressively sideways but has a built-in safety net to keep you on the right side of the scenery.
New Michelin Sport Cup 2 tyres, developed specifically for the Pista, merit a mention too. Apart from the terrific grip they offer, it’s the compliance of the tyres that surprised me on a brief drive in the Italian countryside, outside Fiorano.