2021 Ferrari SF90 Stradale First Track Drive: A Big Argument for Big Thinking

Fiorano. The word, let alone the actual place, explodes with eyesights of Michael Schumacher obsessively knocking off lap after lap of Formula 1 testing; of Ferrari 288 GTO and F40 prototypes finessing the ragged borders of their racetrack chops; of Big Ideas pressure-tested under il Commendatore’s watchful gaze before he spirited away to the great paddock in the sky in 1988. If old man Enzo could today magically materialize and size up the new, staggeringly special Ferrari SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano, the $567,490( to start) wedge is very likely trigger a cascade of questions.

What Is It?

For instance, why is the mighty LaFerrari’s spiritual successor not production-limited like Maranello’s past halo cars? Should a hypercar from the Prancing Horse send its power–some of it electric, as it is a plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle–to all four wheels? And how on god’s green earth does this latest range-topper deserve the “Assetto Fiorano” moniker if it can also slice silently through traffic in full-electric mode( and do so for up to 15.5 miles )? Pardon the presumed reincarnation, but the prism of Fiorano–Ferrari’s famous exam line, building in 1972 — induces this 21 st-century flagship a 986 -hp riddle wrap in a COVID-1 9 conundrum.

Due to the vagaries of pandemic timing( or perhaps Ferrari’s desire to put its fiercest paw forward first ), every SF90 Stradale we’ve previewed and driven( such as we did recently on Los Angeles roads ) has included the $ 56,240 Assetto Fiorano package. The sheaf jam-packs a serious bit of hardware. This includes the likes of determined dampers and weapons-grade titanium springtimes by Multimatic, which supersede service standards adaptive suspension; gummier Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber( with a Krazy Glue-like R complex likewise available ); a rear wing capable of handling 859 pounds of downforce at 155 mph; carbon-fiber door and underbody panels, wheels, you identified it; and a few tasty dainties such as a Lexan peekaboo engine cover and a titanium and Inconel exhaust.

Idling auspiciously just a stone’s throw from Enzo’s old-time Fiorano trackside office, the 2021 Ferrari SF9 0 Stradale Assetto Fiorano looks and sounds the part of speed incarnate, thanks in part to the exhaust’s thinner, more reverberating Inconel plumbing. Yes, its profile betrays its ancestry: 458, 488, F8 Tributo. But these antecedents have been or are commoner strainings on the frontline of the eternal supercar combat , not top-line hypercar war bird-dogs like the Enzo or LaFerrari.

Plenty of adjustments beneath the SF90 Stradale’s skin illustrate and step away from the seem similarities, specially the structural carbon-fiber firewall behind the driver that also offers thermal separation between passengers and the laser-welded, liquid-cooled 84 -cell battery pack. And are talking about electrons, the single back and two front electric motors actuate based on a complex matrix of driving aims that is dependent upon two placeds of parameters.

Gizmos, Not Gremlins

Those parameters are defined by haptically actuated dynamics settings on the left end of the steering wheel( eDrive, Hybrid, Performance, Qualify ), and the physical “manettino” dial on the right that controls stability- and traction-related puts( Wet, Sport, Race, CT off, all systems off ). Drive in full EV mode, and you have the world’s first front-wheel-drive Ferrari; dial-a-ride to CT off, and power is apportioned to the tail as the reins tighten for maximum waggability.

We stick to Performance and Race modes for our first put, which maintains the battery’s state of fee for continued floggings while still maintaining the Michelin Cup 2s from stepping too far out of line. The driver’s seat is an aggressively bolstered, manually adjustable glob of the Fiorano package that integrates with a racing harness. The pilot’s view offers a visual panoramic of electronica, from the 16.0 -inch curved digital instrument panel to a head-up display, plus two so-called satellite screens and an 8.0 -inch passenger screen. While that’s a whole mess of pixels, at least they’re crisp, colorful, and purposeful enough to seem at home here at the racetrack, miles away from the fussy proclivities of city drivers. Heck, if digital displays are good enough for Ferrari F1 motorists Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, they might be good enough for you.

Although the tactile pleasure of the mechanical button start has been lost to a glossy haptic surface at the wheel’s six o’clock position, the 4.0 -liter V-8’s subsequent blat-a-tat-tat offers an endearingly archaic counterpoint to the alleged parade of progress, especially in this raspier-than-standard setup. Tap the giant carbon-fiber paddle shifter on the right to engage first gear, and the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox feathers you forward smoothly sufficient to disarm–at least until you drop the hammer: The accelerator pedal provokes the full symphony of two 25,000 -rpm electric motors, one 8,500 -rpm electric motor, and an 8,000 -rpm Ferrari V-8, all rotating furiously to apportion torque to specific wheels for max hasten in all directions, from acceleration to braking to cornering to rotation.

The Driving Experience

Despite the Rube Goldberg complexity of these tactics, the 2021 SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano manages to feel potent, smooth, and tied together cohesively through the steering wheel and pedals. The electric motors add an additional 132 pounds on the front axle, which removes some of the finely light is of the view that typified modelings such as the 458 Italia. But Ferrari’s signature quick steer and sometimes twitchy response is replaced with stability and linearity that encourages elevated antics. Meanwhile, the electric motors furnish outstanding traction and tractor-like pulling force to help propel the SF90 hybrid hypercar out of corners like an F/ -A1 8 Hornet on full afterburner.

We’ve chased Raffaele de Simone, Ferrari’s factory GT development driver, around Fiorano’s dozen corners in a variety of Ferrari production models throughout the years. It typically takes at least a full session to start closing the gap on his effortlessly blistering tempo. This time around, the SF90 Stradale’s copious front-end grip and chassis responsiveness produce eerie confidence, to the point of being rather amazingly un-Ferrari-like.

While the F12tdf and 488 Pista effectively set hair on your chest thanks to their electrifying engagement, the 2021 SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano feels like more of a co-conspirator than a combatant this first time around. It delivers brutal straight-line acceleration yet obedient, tenacious, and tractable cornering. As is typical of other Ferraris during trail driving, Race mode tightens with an almost annoyingly well-tempered power delivery, enough to keep the tail tucked and the snout purported in precisely the direction you point it. In this application the proceedings are aided by torque fill, which bolsters the thrust before the turbos spool to god knows what rpm, as well as discreet active aerodynamics that manipulate drag and downforce via a Gurney flap at the tail.

We’re able to reel toward de Simone by late braking on the approaching to turn-in degrees, but there’s no reach on him at midcorner or exit. Race mode, though seamless and apparently unintrusive, simply does not transfer enough strength to rocket out of the bend fiercely enough to keep pace with the seasoned pro. It continues like this: Fast in, slow( ish) out as we aim for smoothness while trying to work around the SF9 0’s quick-thinking nannies, which perform several hundreds of figurings per second. The Stradale is a remarkably potent weapon even with this heavily managed attack, but greater stockpiles hide beneath the surface, hidden capabilities awaiting our next go on the approximately 1.9 -mile circuit.

The afternoon comes not only with de Simone’s encouragement to unlock less inhibited fixeds, but with access to R-compound tires, Michelin’s ruthlessly sticky alternative to the already capable Cup 2s. The difference is remarkable. Switching to Qualify mode unleashes the electric motors’ full 217 hp, and it dumps peak electrons from the battery in the interest of claiming peak lap hours rather than long-term range. Telemetry later discloses the discharge rate is so intense that the 7.9 -kWh battery lost approximately 13 percentage of its accusation on the straightaway alone. Some of that power is regenerated upon braking, but the vigour flow’s net sum is dictated by enough battery depletion to empty the stockpiles during the course of one lap of the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

With CT off, power pours through the rear wheels more generously, delivering a tier of liveliness that simply isn’t there in the Race setting. Uncorked, the 2021 Ferrari SF9 0 Stradale Assetto Fiorano commerces white glove for white knuckle, behaving much more like you’d expect from a four-figure-horsepower hypercar–and that’s without fully switching off all of the nanny structures. The elevated dynamics come with enough steering and brake feedback to invigorate confidence in the hardware, despite its drive-by-wire setup.

Data later reveal we’ve shaved off some five seconds per lap when using the more permissive defines, which at least superficially reinforces the point that nannies can indeed slow you down. Nonetheless, a deeper dive into the telemetry trace maps likewise reveals the myriad structures still operating overtime to rotate, accelerate, and corner the car through vectoring and torque fill; so much for the triumph of man and machine over science.

The amounts also favor the 2021 SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano in contrast to its fearsome predecessors: the brand-new simulation laps the Fiorano circuit in one minute and 19 seconds, 0.7 second quicker than the seemingly indomitable LaFerrari.

Why It Matters

If there is an ultimate point to experiencing the SF90’s Assetto Fiorano package at the eponymously called circuit, it’s that the Ferrari lineup’s new apex manages to be both startlingly elevated and remarkably accessible. Unlike the marque’s past flirtings with unobtanium–ultra-limited seven-figure samples doled out to a select few, many of whom revelled in speculative resale–the dream is now reproducible and serialized, though, of course, it was better carries a lofty price tag that can easily top $750,000 with options.

Once again, the flagship is also a Big Idea incarnate, a hopelessly optimistic executing on the premise that a hybrid needn’t sacrifice an iota of its way worthiness as it strives toward peak future friendliness. The 2021 Ferrari SF9 0 Stradale Assetto Fiorano’s oversized accomplishments are likewise enough to justify Ferrari’s first-ever hybrid V-6-powered production car, the upcoming 296 GTB. Ultimately, the SF90 represents yet another of Maranello’s grand perceptions, a proof of outrageous concept that only might have built Enzo proud.

2021 Ferrari SF90 Assetto Fiorano Specifications


Mid-engine front-motor, FWD/ RWD/ AWD ,* 2-pass, 2-door coupe


4.0 L/ 769 -hp/ 590 -lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32 -valve V-8, plus 2×133-hp/ 63 -lb-ft front& 201 -hp/ 196 -lb-ft rear electric engines; 986 hp comb


1-speed automobile( fr ), 8-speed twin-clutch vehicle( rr)

CURB WEIGHT 3,550 lb( mfr)

WHEELBASE 104.3 in

L x W x H 185.4 x 77.6 x 46.7 in

0-60 MPH 2.5 sec( mfr est)


16/20/ 18 mpg city/ hwy/ blended( gas ), 51/51/ 51 mpg-e city/ hwy/ combined( gas+ elec)

ON SALE Now* In EV-only mode it is front-drive, at high speeds it is rear-drive, otherwise it is AWD.

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