( Worldcarfans ) - Ferrari has started the development of the all important mid-engined F430 model successor. First test mules are based on the, yet to be released, F430 Challenge Stradale and have now started to rack up test kilometres on the Fiorano test track as well as the winding mountain roads around the Maranello headquarters.
According to the spy photographer, he managed to get shots of the fully finalized model! Unfortunately, it is hidden under a red cover spotted from a long distance and he was not able to get a shot with it off. Nevertheless, this image gives evidence that the work is much more advanced than previously thought, and the eagerly awaited new model could debut before the end of 2008.
For some time, it was speculated that Ferrari would opt for a V10 engine in order to match the Lamborghini Gallardo. However, since Formula 1 regulations went back to using V8's, Ferrari decided to stay with the proven configuration for the F430 successor. Some of our sources from within the Ferrari factory have hinted to a supposed 5.4 litres of displacement. However, from an engineering point of view, a more moderate, figure-inverted, 4.5 litres seems much more likely. More interestingly, as a result of the increased engine displacement, Ferrari, through their extensive experience in Formula 1 and track-based Ferrari FXX are planning to raise the maximum rev limit from 9,500 to 10,000 rpm with output in excess of 370 kW / 500 hp.
From these spy photos we can see this prototype has camouflaged lateral air scoops in the side of the front bumper fascia (in front of the front wheels) which alludes to an improved braking system which requires increased cooling capabilities. Also, we can see enlarged and flared lateral air intakes in front of the rear wheels which suggests increased cooling needs of a larger engine. Lastly, a revised and partly camouflaged flow efficient rear skirt and exhaust setup all derived from the Challenge Stradale can be seen.
A radical new styling scheme, the new option of all-wheel drive, reduced body weight and improved handling from innovative adaptive suspension damping will all mark important aspects in bringing Ferrari well ahead in the competition with the Lamborghini Gallardo and Audi R8/RS8. And in this respect, the new Ferrari cannot be released too soon, although the current F430 is still a fantastic car and virtually sold out.