2011 Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am: details, photos and specs

Article by Christian A., on July 21, 2011

Ferrari has modified the 458 Italia to meet the rules for the American Grand Am race series. Ferrari actually based the Italia Grand Am on the Challenge version of Ferrari’s latest mid-engine product; however, it was tweaked so that it could go racing in the American series. When equipped with a restrictor plate, the 458 Italia Grand Am generates only 500hp from its 4.5-liter V-8 engine, a drop from its standard road car’s output of 562hp.

In comparison, the engine redlines at just 8000 rpm while that of the regular car has 9000 rpm. Grand Am rules require that the racer is not as aerodynamic as the road version. In addition, the Grand Am-spec 458 is equipped with Continental tires and a revised braking system but without ABS or traction control.

Drivers are protected from collisions by a new roll cage. Ferrari said that collisions more frequently take place in Grand Am racing compared to the European series.

Ferrari’s test drivers, Maurizio Mediani and Jaime Melo, brought the 458 Italia Grand Am to its Fiorano test track to check how it performs on shakedown laps. Ferrari said that the car accomplished numerous laps without encountering any difficulties. For sure, Ferrari enthusiasts are looking forward to seeing the 458 Italia perform at the Grand Am championship next year.

The Ferrari name has become synonymous to innovativeness over the years, and this is because of the Italian sports carmaker’s many models that have deviated from the usual Ferrari design form. One of these innovative cars is the Ferrari 458 Italia.

The new Ferrari 458 Italia is a testament to creative flair, style, the latest technology and passion, effectively mirroring Italy’s characteristics as a nation. And this is the same reason that Ferrari chose to append the country’s name into the car’s name.

The Ferrari 458 Italia is an entirely different car in every aspect: the aerodynamics, the design, ergonomics, instrumentation, engine, and just about everything else.

It is first and foremost a berlinetta, and it is made even better by the Italian carmaker’s experience in the Formula 1. The Ferrari 458 Italia rates highly when it comes to precision and speed, as you can see the car instantly respond to the driver’s inputs. What’s more, the engineers made sure that internal friction is reduced and that helped the fuel efficiency. The Ferrari 458 Italia is much more powerful and fuel saving than the Ferrari F430.

The company’s racing experience is evident in the new Ferrari 458 Italia not just in terms of the technology you see in the car but with the emotional aspects as well. The driving environment is designed to bring the driver and the car closer together. The new designs of the steering wheel and the dashboard take its cue from the racing world and from the guidance and direction of race champion Michael Schumacher.

Pininfarina took charge of the Ferrari 458 Italia's design and this is very evident in the way that the new model differs from other Ferrari cars. It has a small and aerodynamic shape, and looks very simple, efficient and light. Following Ferrari’s philosophy, the design of the car puts an emphasis on the aerodynamics and the car comes with a downforce of 140 kilograms at speeds of around 200 kilometers per hour. The front has a single opening that serves both the front grille and the air intakes on the side. Aerodynamic elements also direct air to the radiators and the underbody. You can also find small aeroelastic winglets on the nose, which cuts air drag and creates more downforce.

Under the hood, you have the new 4499 cc V8. This is the first direct injection engine to be fitted in a Ferrari mid-rear mounted. The engine has a low piston compression height that you see on most racing car engines. The engine can easily give you 570 CV at 9,000 revolutions per minute and a power output of 127 CV per liter. This helps the engine set a new standard for all Ferrari cars and the entire racing car segment as well. Maximum torque is rated at 540 Newton meters at 6,000 revolutions per minute, and 80 percent of that is available at around 3,250 revolutions per minute. Even at lower revs, you can still get a high amount of torque.

You might get a hint of the engine’s power from listening to the car’s powerful growl emerging from the engine just before it goes through the three tailpipes at the rear.

The Ferrari 458 Italia has seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that gives you very smooth shifts even when you are in full throttle. To match the outstanding torque curves and power, the engineers put in sportier gear ratios. And that helps the car achieve high torque at low speeds

The Ferrari 458 Italia is also a leader when it comes to reduced emissions even with all its power. Fuel consumption is at 13.7 liters per 100 kilometers and emits only 320 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. This makes it the most fuel-efficient and most environmentally friendly car in its class.

Making the vehicle lighter is another focus for the engineers. The car has a dry weight of only 1,389 kilograms and has a power to weight ratio of 2.42 kilogram per CV. Weight is optimally distributed with 58 percent of the weight resting on the rear axle. And to give you a better understanding of the benefits of this weight reduction efforts by the company’s engineer, the Ferrari 458 Italia goes from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in only 3.4 seconds and top speeds are registered at more than 325 kilometers per hour.

The chassis was provided by Maranello. It is made of aluminum and advanced types of alloys. It was manufactured using technology used in the aerospace industry.

If these are not enough, you might find the suspension something to talk about. The suspension has two wishbones at the front while the rear has a multi-link setup for better roadholding and extreme handling. You add the fact that the new Ferrari has a more direct steering ratio and you could see that the car offers you extremely fast turn in and control, while still giving you the best in ride comfort.

You also have the E-Diff and F1-Trac that is controlled by the same ECU. This has led to a 32 percent rise in longitudinal acceleration compared to earlier models.

Press Release

Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am

After making its track debut at home in Fiorano, the Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am will be back in action on 26 and 27 July, 2011 for a private test session at Florida's Daytona International Speedway. Taking turns at the wheel will be the tried and tested duo of Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander who can pride themselves of having an extensive list of wins to their name in Ferraris. They will continue development work on the Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am in preparation for its participation in the 2012 American championship.

The Ferrari 458 Grand Am is built to match the American regulations and is therefore different to the European car, especially in that it develops 500 horsepower and has less efficient aerodynamics than the GT version. It is also fitted with a 48 mm restrictor and maximum revs are 8000. Significant modifications have been made to the braking system, as the car has neither ABS nor traction control. Other differences to the GT3 include the roll-over bar which gives greater lateral protection to increase safety in a series in which collisions are rather more frequent. The car is fitted with tyres from Continental, the sole supplier to the series, featuring a very hard compound, again to conform with the series regulations. On its shakedown today, it completed a good number of trouble-free laps, 45 to be precise in the hands of Maurizio Mediani and Jaime Melo, as they took turns at the wheel.

Daytona recalls many memories of past Ferrari victories in the famous 24 Hour race, the company having close links with this important event. In fact, Ferrari has taken part in 47 of these endurance races, winning five of them outright as well as taking 15 class wins.

Standing out in that list was an amazing clean sweep of the podium in 1967 for the two Ferrari 330 P4 and a 412 N.A.R.T., while back in 1962, Phil Hill and Ricardo Rodriguez won in a Dino 246 SP. That year, no less than four Ferraris finished in the top ten while in 1972, Mario Andretti and Jacky Ickx won in a 312 PB.

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