These are the first pictures of a complete Ferrari F450 prototype caught testing out in the open.
Although the Ferrari F450 remains disguised, this is the first full prototype seen out testing. Previously, only Ferrari F430-based test mules have been spotted running.
The Ferrari F450 will feature a massively enhanced technical spec compared with the outgoing F430.
The F450 will feature engineering ideas from Ferrari’s F1 and GT racing programmes, including radiators ahead of the front wheels, a double-clutch seven-speed transaxle gearbox, understeer-cancelling software and an upgraded version of the Scuderia’s traction control.
The lightweight aluminium structure of the new car will also bring gains over the F430’s rigidity. It is said to reflect Ferrari’s dream of cutting weight to improve handling and emissions, while negating the need for more power.
The F450 may be revealed at December’s LA motor show as a concept featuring a future hybrid powertrain.
But the launch decision is pending while Ferrari fine-tunes the styling of it best-selling model ahead of the sales launch early in 2010.
The supercar was scheduled for an unveiling on 9 September, and its engineering was finished some time ago. But sources say the Pininfarina styling had to be adjusted for aerodynamic reasons and that Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo ordered tweaks back in May.
Unlike the launch of the F430, when both Spider and coupé broke cover at the same time, the F450 will make its debut as a tin-top only. This is partly to give the California more time to establish itself in the market before the harder-edged F450 Spider arrives 18 months after the coupe.
Although the F450 will employ cutting-edge tech, it won’t initially adopt any of the new patents that Ferrari recently applied for, including twin-turbo, direct-injection V8 petrol engines and all-wheel-drive hybrid technologies.
Insiders say that’s partly because buyers might not yet be ready for a hybrid Ferrari with eco-friendly features such as stop-start and energy recovery technology, and partly because the firm is confident it can meet European emissions standards by further developing direct-injection technologies, at least until 2014.
However, Ferrari may unveil a hybrid concept F450 at the LA show. Ferrari feels that it needs to unveil its hybrid concept as quickly as it can to claim road-car ownership of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) from Formula One. That would give it a head start over Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota and Renault and buy it time to develop road-going versions.