Track Test: 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo

Track Test: 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo

We get a taste of the 488’s replacement, the Ferrari F8 Tributo, around Sydney Motorsport Park on a cold, clear winter’s morning.

The Ferrari ownership experience is one most of us will never even consider let alone do. But, sometimes, an invitation lands in your inbox inviting you to do the kind of thing owners do – thrash their hugely expensive purchase around a racetrack.

It’s part of the Esperienza Ferrari program for owners and genuine prospects. Obviously things have been a bit quiet at racetracks for the last few months, but Ferrari and the local team has worked out how to make things COVID safe (like the Roma roadshow).

It’s kind of funny, really – you get your own garage with a lounge area, food menu and Ferrari Australia folks weaving around and saying hello. It’s all very civilised, with coffee on tap and plenty of people to talk to.

The Experience

On hand this morning were the F8 Tributo, F8 Spider and the 812 GTS, the convertible version of the colossal 812 Superfast.

But I was super-keen on the coupe, the F8 Tributo.

Sending most people out at Sydney Motorsport Park on their own is madness, but especially so in a Ferrari.

As with other similar programs, the team includes a bunch of instructors and mine for the morning was Tim Brook (2018 Toyota 86 champion). Folks like Tim are the bravest people on earth, sitting in a car with a total stranger while they drive a 530kW supercar.

Pulling out of the pit lane with an instructor can be a little unnerving, but it’s something I have grown used to. Basically, they get you going fast very, very quickly. And boy is that challenging and fun.

Listening is super-important and Tim has a good set of simple hand signals to make sure you’re seeing what you’re hearing.

Eastern Creek’s Turn 2 is a fast-entry, long double apex 180 degree corner and straight away you can feel how much grip the F8 has packed into its compact chassis.

It’s a very talkative chassis and you know what’s going in underneath you, which is critical on a track, even more so than steering feel. You can lean on this so hard.

What I’m not saying is that you’ll find its limits. That’s for colossally talented folks like Tim, not for me. But what you’ll get from the Esperienza is a taste of what your car can do.

F8 Tributo on track

I’ve never driven a Ferrari on track, so this is a first. I’ve done a lot of track work with Jaguar,  Audi, Lotus,  BMW, Mini and Lamborghini. It never fails to exhilarate and terrify me all at once, no matter what I’m driving.

The F8 is by far the lightest and most user-friendly car I’ve driven on a track. It’s also – by some margin – the fastest. Coming off the other double-apex left-hander, SMP’s final turn, flooring the F8 sees you rushing towards 260km/h.

For a road car not being driven as well as a proper gun to reach 260km/h  down the main straight means that it’s deploying 760Nm.

A firm prod of the brakes into the monstrously fast Turn 1 and the F8 holds on at well over 150…then 160…then almost 170km/h attainable by this coward.

The steering is typical Ferrari – light and communicative and it never blunts the messages you’re feeling through the seat.

The SMP layout may very well flatter the F8, with its smooth surface, but I think that’s unlikely. On the road, this thing must be a delight. The 488 was, so with all the Pista goodness added into the F8, it should be wild.

In two quick runs, I got significantly fast, especially as I was now used to Tim’s excellent instruction. It was just a taste, but it gave me a very good idea of just how massively capable is the new F8 and how big a step up it is from the 488.