Three Drives: Ferrari F50

Driver’s Seat: Jaguar XJR-15
November 4, 2018
Driver’s Seat: Koenigsegg CCR
November 10, 2018

Sunday on the Coast

The weather was perfect. Not a cloud to be found and the mercury pushing north towards 70 F. A day made for waking up the neighborhood with the Ferrari F50. To start I headed off towards the highway to get Maranellos’ finest creation properly warmed up before tackling the mountains. The F50 in particular needs a good run on the open road to get heat in the tires. It’s a wise thing to do before heading into more challenging terrain where the road runs alongside a rather dramatic cliff. Just how good an idea this was became immediately apparent as we wound our way through a series of roundabouts and the chilled back end of the F50 was not gripping with conviction. A few miles on the fairly clear highway righted the situation quickly. As you don’t have to drive through any turbo lag on the F50, all the power hits the wheels immediately with a short jab of the right foot. This gives you an incredible ability to shot through gaps in the traffic and immediately reel the horizon in closer. Running down the deserted highway allowed for several good acceleration runs, spinning the engine up close to the redline once everything was full warmed up.

After the highway run, I headed up towards the mountains but not before running into one young troglodyte who insisted in filming a short study of a F50 driving down the road. I have no issue with people taking pictures of the car, but I do have major problems when they try to box you in so that they can get that “perfect” shot. The mountain road is roughly 20 miles with straight bits few and far between. The whole length is an exercise in moving back and forth between 2nd and 3rd gear, keeping the car balanced with the throttle, and using the brakes sparingly. Get it right and the whole run flows seamlessly. Get out of sync and it is a real struggle. Make a mistake, you will kiss a tree or go for a swim after long glide off the side of the mountain. As an added complication today, a local bike club was out in force. Fortunately, after about a third of the way up, we lost the bikers and fears of scooping one up subsided. The wide hips on the F50 make road placement in these conditions critical. On the other hand, the huge reserves of power allow you to shoot from corner to corner and pass stragglers safely on the short straight bits of tarmac.

After the invigorating run through the mountains, we headed back down into the valley toward the coast. All in all, a great way to start a day.

Spring Awaking

After way too long, the Ferrari F50 finally emerged from its long winter slumber for a jaunt in the countryside. Just getting the cover off was a splendid moment. Once that was done, it was time to initiate the ignition sequence. Alarm off, ignition key in and turned to the second position, dash powers up properly, wait several seconds, OK light comes on, clutch in, push the starter button………………and it fired up perfectly the first time and within seconds settled into a smooth idle. Hop back out of the car and now let it sit for a few minutes to warm up. With the water temperature at 100 and the oil temp gauge not far behind, time to head out quickly to clear roads. On the way, focus on building up a bit of heat in both the tyres and brakes. After 10 minutes, the road opened up with not another car is in sight so off we go. The gearbox in the F50 really is second to none. In rapid order, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and the horizon just got a lot closer. Ease off a bit and drop back into 4th, allowing the revs to rise back up. Smooth glide to the right and then back left through the switchbacks. The steering wheel is on the smaller side but just feels so right. The diameter and thumb grips are perfect. No messy bulge of an airbag in the middle, just all business. Quickly through a pair of roundabouts and then back up the far side of the triangle. Time to cut through the forest and to the highway. No piece of tarmac in this area is straight for more than 50 yards so it is all 2nd and 3rd gear with the big V12 just singing. Breaking out of the woods, it was then a quick sprint towards the highway. Closing on the entrance ramp, traffic was starting to build so off to the left we headed to cut back cross country. More 3rd and 4th gear as the road gently cut through the farms. Steering inputs in this area were modest as it is easy to balance it on the throttle while powering through the apex on each bend. Then all too soon, the drive was over and back to the garage we headed. While it is a big wide car, the Ferrari F50 completely shrinks around you and inspires huge amounts of confidence. The F50 moves so smoothly and responds instantly to all inputs. Every and any drive in the F50 is an event to savior.

Winter Run

It was a beautiful clear blue sky here today with the temperatures just north of freezing. Perfect day for a drive in the Ferrari F50, so after lunch, we did exactly that.

Despite not having moved in two months because of the weather, the F50 started right up on the first jab of the starter button. The startup sequence is always a bit of a deep breath moment when the F50 hasn’t been run in a while due to the dreaded dead dashboard threat. After a few minutes to let everything warmed up, we were off. As the roads (and tyres) were still quite cold, and in shaded areas probably frozen, we started off very gently with the right foot. Even at modest rpms, the F50 sounds like nothing else on the road. Run it up the dial and that F1 derived scream from the back is awe inspiring. After about twenty minutes, we hit an area with no traffic with a clear sun-drenched road and were able to open it up a bit. The steering and gearbox on the F50 are simply outstanding. The short throw stick is so smooth and fast your license is always at risk if you are not paying attention to the speedometer. With the CF tub, body roll is non-existent, and the nose does exactly where you aim it. Despite the width, the F50 always shrinks around you and is very easy to place on the road.

We did make one stop on the route today at a farmer’s market. The F50 is not quite a practical for the grocery run as you can only fit 3 small shopping bags in the front luggage bin. It was quite the sight seeing the low slung F50 parked up on a sea of giant Range Rovers.

On the way back, we hit one of my favorite pieces of pavement. There was not another car in sight so it was quite a spirited, engaging run. Long sweepers are ideal for the F50, and don’t think I even touched the brakes for the entire stint. It is so easy to drive using the throttle and gearbox to set up the corner and then power out the other side.

All in, we did around 30 miles. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

 

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November 2018

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