The suspension layout can be expected to more closely resemble a Formula One car than anything seen before in production, possibly an electronically adjustable push-rod/pull-rod layout, featuring some kind of advanced dynamic control. An active damper system similar to Maserati's recent "Skyhook" is a possibility, while nothing is yet known about traction control. One sure thing is that there will be such a system, given the enormous power to weight ratio and the amount of torque available from very low revs. Without any traction control, this car could prove lethal for drivers only slightly less capable than Michael Schumacher.

The aerodynamics of the FX would have required a long development in the wind tunnel to achieve the necessary downforce at the highest speeds. From the first drawing, its lines appear to be remarkably clean, reminiscent of a Formula One car in the shark-nose front end. The lack of any external wings is a sign that a lot of work has been done on the underside of the car to achieve enough vacuum effect to "suck" the car to the tarmac at the highest speeds. However, a rear wing does pop up automatically at higher speeds for additional downforce and rear-end stability. Detailed underbody aerodynamics to achieve a suction effect at high speed have already been implemented by Ferrari on the F355 and 360 Modena road cars, as well as in Formula One; the FX can be expected to draw from this experience to come up with a finely balanced dynamic behavior, without resorting to large and ungainly aerodynamic appendages on the bodywork.

Performance figures are still shrouded in mystery, as no one outside Ferrari has yet been given access to one of these cars. (The first public viewing is at the 2002 Paris Salon this September.) Given the lightweight composite materials used in its construction, the weight of the car is estimated at 1,200 kg (2,640 lb), leading to a power-to-weight ratio of less than 1.8 kg/bhp (3.96/bhp). This is comparable to the most extreme production superbikes with rider on board. This and the 650-bhp power output suggest that speeds beyond 240 mph would not be impossible to reach. However, there are rumors that a more "politically correct" 212-mph top speed has been set by adopting shorter gear ratios in favor of acceleration worthy of the superbike league.

On the other hand, some may feel that beating the McLaren F1 on every front would require improving on its stratospheric top speed: English magazines recorded over 231 mph back in 1998. It may well be that at least this record will remain unbeaten for some time to come. At present it is not known whether Ferrari will take this car racing. It would seem a waste if it didn't, as the FX looks like it has all it takes to make a valid base for a GT-class winner, just as the McLaren F1 did back in 1995.

By Andrea Lazzaro
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