Literally no-one in the world has referred to Ferrari’s F12 Berlinetta as ‘slow’, but in an attempt to pre-empt such a thing, Ferrari have given it some bigger balls all the same. At first the F12tdf name sounds confusing, considering it stands for Tour de France, but this car isn’t referring to the lycra-smattered bicycle race that graces our screens each year. No, the Tour de France Ferrari are referring to is a sportscar race which was held annually in France from 1899 to 1986, which Ferrari dominated in the 50’s and 60’s with their 250 GT Berlinetta. It was a race that rewarded cars that combined maximum performance with the driveability and ease of use that enabled the competitors to race for hundreds of kilometres a day over fast, tortuous roads and on circuits. The F12tdf is a more powerful, lighter, tighter version of an already extreme road car that is equally at home on the track, and just 799 will be built.
To begin with, Ferrari engineers worked to boost the maximum power output to 573kW (769hp) and 705Nm (520lb-ft) of torque – and although the engine will rev all the way out to 8,900rpm, 80 percent of that torque is available from just 2,500rpm. Ferrari achieved this gain through numerous modifications, starting with the use of race-inspired mechanical tappets and variable-geometry intake trumpets, the same that are used on Formula 1 cars, which help boost volumetric efficiency at high revs. The F12tdf is equipped with a specific version of the F1 DCT with 6% shorter gear ratios that delivers 30% faster upshifts and 40% faster downshifts.
The bodywork has also been given a once-over, with an abundance of carbon-fibre helping to slash some 110 kg off the car’s overall weight. All of these factors combine to produce record performance figures: 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds and 0-200 km/h in 7.9 seconds in addition to a substantial boost in lateral acceleration. The TdF also produces about 87 percent more downforce than the stock Berlinetta, which helps it lap Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit in 1 minute and 21 seconds, or just 1.3 seconds slower than LaFerrari.
Ferrari have also developed a new Virtual Short Wheelbase system, or in layman’s terms Active Rear-Wheel Steering, which will debut on the F12tdf and in Ferrari’s terms ‘enables even gentlemen drivers to make full use of the car’s performance’. Using model-based control logic developed entirely in-house by Ferrari, the rear axle steering automatically adjusts the rear wheels, working out the optimal steering angle as a function of the steering wheel angle, speed of steering inputs and vehicle speed. The Virtual Short Wheelbase improves the car’s responsiveness to make it feel more agile, with instantaneous turn-in that can be best appreciated on twisty roads and on more technically challenging tracks while, at the same time, improving stability at high speeds.
The car’s uncompromising sportiness is expressed with the same degree of purity in the deliberately Spartan cockpit. The wrap-around effect that embraces the driving position is intensified by the use of carbon-fibre housings for the instruments and satellite pods. The door panels have been pared back to a single carbon-fibre shell, while the glove compartment has disappeared to be replaced by simple knee padding. Alcantara rather the traditional leather was chosen for the cabin trim, technical fabric for the seats and patterned aluminium instead of mats for the floor, once again with the aim of saving every last ounce of weight.
The F12tdf’s specification is completed by lightweight alloys with five twinned spokes that are designed to have the narrowest section possible to reduce unsprung weight.