When most people hear the words “Tour de France” they think of men with legs the diameter of oak trees wearing yellow jerseys and tight shorts. Ferrari has just introduced a car that will help people remember a different race through the Gallic countryside, the 780 horsepower Ferrari F12tdf.
Unbeknown to many in this generation the Tour de France was also an automobile race that ran from 1899 to 1986 with Ferrari winning nine consecutive titles with the spectacular 250 GT/GTO from 1956 through 1964. While the route changed from year to year, the 7-day race covered hundreds of miles per day and traditionally started in Nice winding its way north through the Alps before turning east and then heading back to the Mediterranean coast.
To honor this success the Ferrari F12tdf is more than just a paint and badge job. Significant changes were made to the engine, transmission, body and suspension. Thanks to the liberal use of lightweight materials like carbon fiber the F12tdf is also nearly 250 pounds lighter than the standard F12.
Calling it “the ultimate expression of the concept of an extreme road car that is equally at home on the track,” the F12tdf lives up to those words with incredible performance numbers. It can go 0-60 in under 2.9 seconds, hit a 120 miles per hour in a few ticks under 8 and tops out at 211 mph. Taking the brakes from the LaFerrari, it stops from 60 in under 100 feet. And cornering is improved thanks to an 87% increase in aerodynamic downforce.
The naturally-aspirated 6.2 liter V12 has been reworked to produce 780 hp at 8,500 rpm and it delivers a healthy 520 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,750 rpm with 80% already available at 2,500 rpm. To achieve this Ferrari engineers redesigned the mechanical tappets and variable-geometry intake trumpets based on the company’s Formula 1 motors, thus boosting efficiency at high revs. The power is delivered to the rear wheels through an updated version of the F1 DCT with 6% shorter gear ratios that delivers 30% faster upshifts and 40% faster downshifts.
But all that power would be worthless if you couldn’t keep it on the road, so Ferrari worked to improve handling by increasing the tire width to 275 mm in the front and 315 mm in the rear. To reduce the oversteer that comes by putting so much power to the rear, Ferrari have introduced four-wheel steering system that allows the rear wheels to pivot on a vertical axis. Called the Virtual Short Wheelbase, it uses control logic developed by Ferrari to automatically adjust the rear wheels, working out the optimal steering angle based on a combination of the steering wheel angle, speed of steering inputs and vehicle speed. The only thing you need to know is this will get you through the corners safer and more quickly than ever before.
Outside the F12tdf is slippery with an aerodynamic efficiency that’s double that of the F12 Berlinetta. Every surface on the car has been reworked to improve the way it cuts through the wind while increasing downforce. It features a radically scooped lower section and incorporates a competition car-inspired splitter, dive planes, floor wings and louvres to boost the efficiency of both the sides and the underbody.
Inside the F12tdf is a study in minimalism. Alcantara replaces leather and performance fabrics wrap the seats in an effort to save every ounce of weight. Ferrari have even removed the carpeting leaving a patterned aluminum floor and there’s no glove box, so you’ll have to leave your Isotoners at home.
Ferrari will build just 799 F12tdf models and while pricing hasn’t been announced, let’s just say that whatever they choose to charge, it will be worth it.
Two-door high performance coupe
6.2 liter V12 engine
7-Speed dual clutch transmission
Horsepower: 780 at 8,500 rpm
Torque: 520 lb.-ft @6,750 rpm
0-60 mph: 2.8 seconds
Top Speed: 211 mph
EPA Fuel Economy: N/A and really, who cares?