How do you make Ferrari's track-only, customer development project faster? A smidge more power helps, but the real difference is going to come from rear wings that rotate forward and back to adjust downforce front-to-rear based on steering input, lateral g forces, acceleration and speed. This is the next big step in supercar performance.
For those following along at home, the Ferrari 599XX is a track-only version of Ferrari's range-topping V12 sports coupe equipped with the highest power output and latest technological advances. A select few Ferrari customers get the chance to pay their own money to help the company develop future products.
In addition to the active aerodynamics, the Ferrari 599 XX Evolution sheds 77 Lbs and gains 20 HP, the latter thanks to a new side-exit exhaust. All the modifications together bump its Fiorano lap time down to just 1:15:00. That's a full second faster than the similarly track-only, but Enzo-based Ferrari FXX.
Capable of adding 970 Lbs of downforce at 124 MPH, the active aero is integrated with the car's other electronic control functions (ESP, ABS, SCM and F1-Trac) enabling it to read a variety of parameters such as steering wheel angle, longitudinal acceleration, lateral acceleration and vehicles speed, then determine the optimal amount and balance of downforce to apply. It works by varying the angle of attack and location of slats in the rear wing.
Due to its ability to optimize downforce and drag to specific, in-the-split-second requirements, active aero is considered the next big step in automobile performance. We've seen some limited applications of it on the road already - for instance the Bugatti Veyron has a rear wing which moves to reduce drag, increase downforce or even serve as an airbrake - but the ability to control total downforce while proportioning it over the front and rear axels is something new. In twenty years, you might even be driving a road car with such a system; it'd contribute to safer, faster cornering without sacrificing top speed or fuel economy.