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Ferrari's blown future?

2009-11-12 08:39
Forced induction Ferraris have always been something of an oddity.

Maranello’s engine builders have always prided themselves on generating outlandish output numbers the old fashion way – with impeccable engineering and operational tolerances.

As the emission regulation clouds move in over the headquarters of performance car manufacturers across Europe, even Ferrari has been forced to reconsider its position on forced-induction.

Fanning the hopes

Turbocharging appears to be the only way forward - reconciling the need for stupendous power and acceptable emission levels.

To this end patent drawings leaked earlier this year, detailing a Ferrari dual-stage turbocharging system. It’s not as if Ferrari has no experience with turbocharging either.

The preciously brilliant 288 GTO, one of the very few turbocharged Ferrari models in Maranello's heritage portfolio.

During the particularly ludicrous 1980s F1 turbo-era, racetrack technology morphed into powering two of Ferrari’s most desirable cars ever – the F40 and 288 GTO – with twin-turbo V8 engines.

The reason Maranello has never bought into the turbo concept is the staggered throttle response of most turbocharged engines. Turbo lag, no matter how negligible, is simply intolerable to Ferrari.

After assessing the patent sketch and hearing Ferrari’s engine chief Jean-Jacques admit to European reporters its turbo program has been ratified, we’re pretty sure a contemporary twin-turbo Ferrari is within the very near future.

Twin-turbo with direct-injection?

The patent sketch set-up places two turbochargers in the V-split between the two banks of four-cylinders.

Considering Ferrari’s introduction of turbocharger friendly direct-injection on the California range, the engineering foundation for a switch to forced induction is undoubtedly present.

Ferrari’s turbo technology should closely shadow Porsche’s current variable-vane turbos, which provide the golden mean of producing power from low engine speeds right through to the engine’s operational peak.

One technical intervention Ferrari will not be adopting is the Fiat MultiAir variable valve system, which has massive benefits with regards to efficiency and subsequently, emission reduction.

Ferrari believes the MultiAir system’s benefits are negated at the very high engine speeds its road car engines operate at.

In other technical news regarding Maranello’s products Ferrari’s dual-clutch transmission, which is currently restricted only to V8 configuration cars, has been found suitable for deployment with the company’s V12 powered cars too.

It should effortlessly engage and disengaged gears at speeds of up to 10 000r/min. Then again, future turbocharged Ferraris would probably operate at peak engine speeds far below that threshold…

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