The Ferrari F12 has never struck anyone as being in need of more power. It really doesn’t feel like it needs more nor, at least without significant modification, should it be given it. But here we are: the Ferrari F12tdf, a special version of the F12, limited in production but unlimited in ambition.
It’s called F12tdf to reference the old Tour de France road race, which Ferraris won quite a few times, but only ‘F12tdf’ in name and not actually ‘F12 Tour de France’. The two-wheeled, pedal-powered Tour de France owns the Tour de France moniker, so only the Tour de France can actually say Tour de France. Follow?
Anyway, the F12tdf it is, and it gets lots more power than an F12, and, thankfully, plenty of other modifications to go with it. Ferrari’s special 12-cylinder car programme has in the past provided us with the 599 GTO, of which 599 were made.
Ferrari suggests the 799 tdfs that will roll away from Maranello will be just as extreme, providing a front-engined Ferrari V12 with hitherto unmatched levels of agility. There are several ways you can make a car feel more agile, and Ferrari has done all of them.
One is adding more poke: so the F12tdf gets 770bhp instead of 730bhp, thanks mostly to an easier-breathing inlet on the 6.3-litre engine and race-derived mechanical rather than hydraulic tappets, which are noisier but lighter and allow a higher rev limit – some 8900rpm. We must hasten to add that the swansong for the F12 - the F12 M won't surpass the frankly ludicrous 770bhp mark, but be limited to a much more manageable 750bhp.
Another method is to reduce weight, so the F12tdf is 110kg lighter than the F12, thanks to the removal of much of the interior (Alcantara and carbonfibre replaces leather and aluminium), and the replacement of much of the aluminium bits on the outside with carbonfibre, with Ferrari claim a sporty yet spartan feel.
But the easiest way to introduce agility to a car is simply to fit it with massive front tyres. At the start of the development process, Ferrari did just that - fitting 315-section F12 rear wheels to the front, and then even slick tyres to the front, to see what the result was like.
Hilarious but perilously unstable is the short of it, which meant Ferrari couldn’t just leave it like that. And here its marketing men rather like to use an aerospace analogy: in the same way that a modern fighter jet is designed to be inherently unstable so that it’s incredibly agile, so too was the F12tdf.