The new 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo is what happens when you give the track-honed Pista some more road manners. Still, we stuck to the circuit and had a go in the Tributo around Dubai’s Autodrome. It’s rather good…
Let me tell you a story about my weekend.
Just before eleven on Thursday night, I am in the middle of my first malt beverage and I get a call from Motormouth Arabia editor, Amit. He says, “Mate, what are you doing tomorrow morning? I was supposed to be driving the new F8 Tributo on track and I’ve been rear-ended by an idiot. My licence is with the police. Can you fill in me for me?”
Now, which idiot is going to say no to such an opportunity? All Amit had to do was liaise with the Ferrari people because there was still the matter of vetting me.
Now it’s almost midnight, and I am on my way home after abandoning my malt beverages and a night out with friends, waiting with bated breath for a call from Ferrari. I almost give up and message Amit one last time to check if the Ferrari call came through yet, and as I hit ‘send’ my phone rings. After a quick interview, I have been instructed to report at eight-thirty sharp tomorrow morning at the Dubai Autodrome.
Now the problem is getting some sleep. I am up half the night thinking to myself, “In a few hours I will be driving a Ferrari. On a race track.” This is a new one… I go through the camera gear once again, and wait until morning.
At dawn, wide awake and alert, I get going far too early and arrive well ahead of time. It takes me a second to realise that, yes, this is actually happening, and I am about to get behind the wheel of a brand new Ferrari F8 Tributo.
Before the whole adventure begins, I stand there and absorb all the details of the car, the front end shaped around the giant s-duct designed for better airflow and downforce. The headlights are smaller, sharper, and the glasshouse has been made bigger for better visibility. Around the sides the car is dominated by these giant scoops on the flanks, reminding you that this is the successor to the 488 GTB. The rear, however, is where the most significant changes lie. A new engine cover features integrated louvers to help with cooling and it comes made of Lexan to keep the weight down. Remind you of anything? It’s straight off the F40. As for the taillights, they go back further, reminding me a bit of the 308 GTB, the first in Ferrari’s line of mid-engined V8 cars that started in 1975.
All the above changes have only one common goal, which is to make the car as light and as aerodynamic as possible. The F8 Tributo is in fact 40kg lighter and 10 percent more aerodynamically efficient than the 488 GTB.
Which means, it goes. It definitely goes! The startling thing is how solid and well put together it all feels though, despite the focus seemingly centred on speed.
As I adjust my self in the car down and low, I realise how excellent the visibility is, and the thoughtful dead pedal for your left foot is another useful touch. I remember not having a dead pedal in the 458 and that one small thing made the car quite uncomfortable to drive long distances.
The steering wheel is now smaller and thinner, making it easier to grip and turn which seems to help with quicker responses from the car, and you do have to hold on while you’re at it. The engine in this Ferrari produces 710 horsepower, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It is the fastest and most powerful Ferrari V8 ever produced.
What Ferrari has done with the F8 Tributo is combined all the experience from the the 488 GTB, Pista, and Challenge series cars to make the new F8 faster overall, but also easier to live with.
And with launch control included, it has never been easier to do 0-100km/h runs in under three seconds, so you can put that one down for usability as well.
While all of this information is up there in my head, during the track session I actually cannot process much because as soon as I floor the throttle, the car skitters off the line and you’re left trying to chase the rev needle and snap at the next gear. Then there’s trying to remember the course – the F8 is so fast that every time I leave one turn, I am immediately at the net one before I’ve gathered myself up, still way back there trying to figure out the previous corner.
Curiously, the F8 Tributo also hardly ever feels like a turbocharged car. There is absolutely no lag and performance is available in every gear all the time. With the throttle pinned the car accelerates brutally, all the way to 8,000rpm.
The handling, too, is sublime. Even with the intimidation factor, with the brilliant Ferrari traction control it behaves itself everywhere, with steering that is light and typical of a modern Ferrari. Some would call it nervous, but it’s just extremely accurate.
At the same time, the F8 is so civilised. It is a car you can drive every day, and the suspension is a superb balance between firmness and ride quality. Yes, you can feel a few bumps here and there, but you would not expect too much refinement from a car like this.
The new Ferrari F8 Tributo is a car you can fall in love with over and over again. You can never get enough of it, and our track session comes to an end all too soon. The fact that this supercar feels so useable as well only makes it even more appealing. Ferrari has struck the perfect balance here.
2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo
3.9-litre V8, twin-turbocharged | seven-speed twin clutch transmission, rear-wheel drive | 710 horsepower at 8,000rpm and 770Nm of torque from 3,250rpm | zero to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 343km/h | POA