The F12’s key contradiction is that it is both pioneer and throwback. This is Ferrari's first ‘downsized’ super-GT, and the first car of its kind to be lower, shorter, narrower and lighter than the one that it replaces.
As such, it seems to adopt a path leading, in design terms, in the direction not of the imposing 550, 575M and 599 of relatively recent memory, but instead towards the company’s more effete front-engined models of the 1960s.
The F12 is more than 200mm longer than the 275 GTB but its short overhangs visually reduce its mass, and its cabin-rear profile contributes to a classic sports car silhouette.
Compared with the 599, the F12 has a lower scuttle and seating position, a lower engine mounting and a resultingly lower centre of roll. Packaging advances have made the rear-mounted transaxle gearbox and suspension systems smaller, allowing a shorter rear overhang and a rearward shift in weight distribution.
Built by Scaglietti, the F12’s monocoque underbody is made of 12 different aluminium alloys and contributes to a 20 percent gain in torsional rigidity compared with the 599, as well as a 70kg overall saving.
The car is clothed in aluminium, too, its panels sculpted according to Ferrari’s unique ‘aerodynamics via subtraction’ philosophy. The arcing channels cut into the bonnet form the so-called Aero Bridge, diverting air from the base of the windscreen and using it to reduce drag around the wheelarches.
The net result is that this car produces 123kg of downforce at 126mph but has a drag coefficient of less than 0.3. In our experience, the car’s styling doesn’t win universal praise but, like it or not, you can’t deny that the F12’s design works.