Mugello, Italy - On the face of it, it’s a ridiculous proposition: You are asked to pay a small fortune for a car that is neither street-legal nor eligible for competition, that you can’t take home with you, and that you can only drive nine times a year at venues that you don’t get to choose.
But Ferrari has never had any shortage of takers for its XX programme, launched in 2005 with cars specifically designed as rolling laboratories for the latest technologies, cars right on the cutting edge of performance and innovation - and that, of course, is the attraction
The final venue for the 2017 programme was the Finali Mondiali, marking the end of the European racing season, held this year at the Mugello circuit in Tuscany, which also saw the launch of the 2018 FXX-K Evo, which will be available both as a very limited-run model and as an upgrade package for existing XX cars.
Just as with the Evo versions of the earlier FXX and 599 XX, the Evo version explores new technologies derived from from all the categories in which Ferrari competes - Formula One, GT3, GTE and, of course, the one-make Ferrari Challenge.
First, add lightness
The designers’ first objective was reducing weight; by further developing the carbon-fibre techniques used for Formula One tubs, they made the car lighter than its predecessor, despite introducing new elements such as a fixed rear wing - although they carefully avoid saying exactly how much the car actually weighs!
The new car’s aero package is the result of more than a year of computer simulations and real-world wind-tunnel testing; the Evo’s downforce coefficient has been improved by 23 percent over the previous version, up to 640kg at 200km/h and more than 830kg at the car’s redline speed.
A lot of that comes from a new twin-profile fixed wing on the tail, which works together with the revised and reprogrammed active rear spoiler, so that the two pressure fields amplify each other by constructive interference. The new wing is supported by two side fins as well as central fin, which improves straight-line stability as well as supporting the action of the three triangular vortex generators.
These smooth out the flow of hot air from the engine compartment before it hits the wing, and create a downwash component that adds 10 percent to the rear-end downforce. The bypass vents from the rear wheel-arches have also been enlarged, channeling the wake from the wheels smoothly onto the rear diffuser for another five percent gain in rear downforce.
All of which necessitated a redesign of the front bumpers and underbody to balance out the downforce.
The surfaces under the headlights were hollowed out to make space for a couple of flicks, a vertical turning vane and an extra air intake ahead of each front wheel, adding 10 percent ot the front downforce. But three times more downforce (30 percent of the total) comes from new vortex generators on the undertray making the most of the faster throughflow to generate more front downforce.
The downside was that the front brakes started overheating, so their ducting was redesigned to flow more air without changing the width of the intake.
And finally the active suspension has been recalibrated to make the best use of the extra grip afforded by the new aero package.
Inside, there’s a completely new steering wheel, derived from Formula One with integrated shift paddles, and a new Kers manettino that improves the overall ergonomics as well as the control of that system. The rear video camera screen (you weren’t expecting anything as mundane as a mirror, were you?) has grown to 16.5cm and now also displays data from a new telemetry system, including lap times and Kers status.
The 2018/2019 XX programme will include nine track outings between the beginning of March and the end of October, ending with the Finali Mondiali weekend as per tradition.