Birth of the Ferrari F70: a study in carbon (w/VIDEOS)

Ferrari used the Paris Motor Show to reveal ‘part’ of its forthcoming F70 super sports car, successor to the Enzo and the only model in Ferrari’s range which will be ‘built without compromise’, just like McLaren’s recently launched P1 Concept.

Those of us who’ve already seen an F70 prototype out and about on the roads around Maranello, will be disappointed to find Ferrari chose to share just its carbon fibre chassis, but there’s still much to relish from an engineering sculpture worthy of the great Michelangelo.

The carbon fibre monocoque has been designed with the help of Rory Byrne, Ferrari’s F1 chief designer who was behind 11 of the team’s Championship titles. It’s the most complex (and time consuming) chassis ever developed for a Ferrari road car and drew upon the company’s vast experience of working with composites for single-seaters.

The new F70, which will be Ferrari’s first ever hybrid model, will be produced in a special limited edition series just like its predecessor, however the overall chassis is 20 per cent lighter than the Ferrari Enzo, despite the extra weight required by housing the hybrid components and to meet regulatory obligations. Torsional rigidity is increased by 27 per cent and beam stiffness is also up by 22 per cent.

The materials, design methodologies, construction processes, staff and instruments used are all shared with the Scuderia Ferrari team, while the chassis uses four different types of carbon-fibre and is hand-laminated then cured in autoclaves following engineering processes which optimise the design by integrating the different components.

Ferrari didn’t use the industrial carbon-fibre manufacturing techniques, such as RTM (Resin Transfer Moulding), normally adopted in the automotive sector, but instead created the main structure from T800 carbon with local, strategic applications of T800UD, a unidirectional carbon-fibre tape, for reinforcement.

To ensure weight was kept to an absolute minimum, the structural underbody and cross-member are made from another type of particularly high tensile strength carbon-fibre, known as M46J.

In certain critical areas, such as the doors, very tough T1000 was adopted, which is particularly efficient in terms of impact absorption – another lesson adapted from single-seaters, this time from the safety-cell construction of nose-cones. Carbon-fibre is combined with Kevlar for the undertray to prevent damage from debris thrown up from the road.

The F70’s hybrid drivetrain was shown at this year’s Beijing Auto Show, which features an updated version of Ferrari’s HY-KERS system previewed in that tastefully-coloured lime-green 599 GTB that toured the motor shows during 2010.

The powertrain consists of two electric motors, one mounted to the gearbox and sending drive to the rear wheels and the other used to power auxiliary systems such as the power steering, brake servo, air conditioning and onboard systems. These electric motors are combined with a new-generation V12 engine producing upwards of 800bhp. Ferrari have stated their aim of delivering 1.34bhp for every 1kg of weight added by the hybrid system, so the powerplant’s combined power output may be even higher .

With rumours of a 1100kg kerb weight, the F70 will be the fastest Ferrari road car ever made, but will also be the most efficient, with the HY-KERS system enabling around 40 percent less emissions than an equivalent internal combustion engine.

The F70 is due to be shown to potential customers by the end of the year, before being officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in spring 2013.