What is it?
It’s Ferrari’s limited-edition, powered-up, pared-down F12tdf, seen here prowling UK roads for the very first time. We’ve driven it before in sun-kissed Italy, after which our estimable Matt Prior concluded, quite rightly, that it was a car that "takes some learning".
Transfer one thousand miles to the north-west, drop the temperature 20deg C or so and swap the hills around Maranello for a wet Welsh mountainside and we can probably upgrade that judgement to "takes some learning, unwavering concentration, a reasonable chunk of talent and every crumb of courage you can muster". We’ll get to why that is in the next section.
For now, however, let’s examine a little more closely exactly what we’re dealing with here. Ferrari will hate me for saying this, but the F12tdf is, in its basest sense, a run-out special. The F12’s much modified (but not entirely new) successor will be with us next year, so Ferrari needs something to maintain interest in the meantime. Some 799 are being built and offered to favoured owners for £339,000 a pop before they play fast and loose with the options. In broad terms that’s £100,000 – an Aston Vantage V8 S plus change – more than the F12. You’ll only stop snorting when you realise what, in addition to rarity value, that buys you.
You get a car that’s 110kg lighter than the F12 thanks to the deletion of most of the interior and the addition of much carbonfibre both inside and out, where both bumpers, the front wings, all the additional aero devices and much of the underside are now made of the material. The entire aero package is upgraded to almost double the amount of downforce, with aggressive dive planes at the front, a bigger wing at the back and even a different angle for the rear screen in between.
The chassis gets springs stiffened by 20%, revised dampers and a four-wheel steer system, the latter to balance the fact that the front tyres are now two sections wider, while those at the back remain unchanged.
But as ever with a Ferrari, it is the powertrain to which your attention clings most keenly to you. The engine retains its 6262cc capacity but its power is raised from 730bhp to 770bhp, which is 123bhp per litre without a turbocharged in sight. It’s been done partly by letting it breathe a little better but mainly by replacing hydraulic tappets with mechanical items which permit it to rev a little higher: peak power now comes at 8900rpm instead of 8500rpm. You might want to allow yourself a moment to imagine what a Ferrari V12 developing 770bhp at 8900rpm sounds like. The seven speed gearbox offers even more rapid shifts in both directions.