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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Every Ferrari should be an entertainment – visually as much as anything else. But they’re driving tools ultimately, and in this regard the F8 Tributo is nothing less than a supreme piece of engineering that advances key aspects of the entire experience. Though not always in the ways you’d imagine. Yes, it’s fast enough to have you inventing vivid new profanities, and though the seven-speed dual-shift ’box doesn’t have the ‘gun-shot’ snap of the Pista’s shift, the way the F8 harnesses the energy coursing through it at full tilt is still mind-bending. Equally, flooring it in fifth gear from 40mph or noticing how happily it mooches about in seventh is arguably just as big a testament to Ferrari’s achievement. Rarely has an engine this mighty managed to be so docile.

Forced induction manifests itself in monumental shove, anywhere, anytime, without hurting throttle response, and Ferrari’s variable torque management ensures a breathtakingly linear delivery. Its ride remains borderline miraculous, given the forces at work. Yet it also goes pretty much like the Pista. Suspicious as I am of the SSC (Side Slip Control) algorithms – now in v6.1 – the software is newly integrated with the ‘Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer’ which governs lateral dynamics in Race mode with spooky seamlessness. Less steering input is needed to catch and hold a slide. In short, numpties are less likely to crash while the more competent will find themselves instigating the sort of drifts that will leave long-term sweaty-palmed mid-engined Ferrari adherents slack-jawed. Keep the systems firmly on and the F8 is equally adept at metering out all that power for maximum exit speed. Ferraris are now effectively super computers on wheels, but the sensations are still engagingly analogue. And even the rev limiter has been finessed, so that its influence isn’t felt until bang on the 8000rpm red line.

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Around Fiorano, we tried an F8 shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber. These are fabulous tyres, and the effect is magical. The F8 has an astonishing front end, but the middle and rear stay right with it through apex and entry. With all the electronic guardians off, 710bhp and the forces of physics still gather to remind you that some things remain non-negotiable, and the F8’s low polar moment of inertia means you need your A-game. So its chassis isn’t vice-free, but nor is the software hiding anything malign. As ever with a 21st century Ferrari, the steering is initially hyperactive but quickly appreciated. And the brakes, Brembo carbon ceramics, are magnificent.

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