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Chris Harris: Ferrari Are Cheats

 
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:46 AM
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Chris Harris: Ferrari Are Cheats

(long story, but worth reading it)

Chris Harris (Evo Magazine UK), Feb 15, 2011 3:00 PM I told the blokes at Jalopnik I was pissed at Ferrari and wanted to tell a few people. They said I could do it here. Stay with me, this might take a while.


I think it started in 2007 when I heard that Ferrari wanted to know which test track we were going to use for Autocar's 599 GTB road test, but in reality the rot had set in many years earlier. Why would it want to know that? "Because," said the man from the Autocar office, "The factory now has to send a test team to the circuit we chose so that they can optimize the car to get the best performance from it." They duly went to the track, tested for a day, crashed the car, went back to the factory to mend the car, returned, tested and then invited us to drive this "standard" 599. They must have been having a laugh.
Sad to say it, but the ecstasy of driving a new Ferrari is now almost always eradicated by the pain of dealing with the organization. Why am I bothering to tell you this? Because I'm pissed with the whole thing now. It's gotten out of control; to the point that it will soon be pointless believing anything you read about its cars through the usual channels, because the only way you get access is playing by its rules.
Like anyone with half a brain, I've been willing to cut Ferrari some slack because it is, well, Ferrari - the most famous fast car brand of all and the maker of cars that everyone wants to know about. Bang out a video of yourself drifting a new Jag XKR on YouTube and 17 people watch it; do the same in a 430 Scuderia and the audience is 500,000 strong. As a journalist, those numbers make you willing to accommodate truck-loads of bull****, but I've had enough now. I couldn't care if I never drive a new Ferrari again, if it means I never have to deal with the insane communication machine and continue lying about the lengths to which Ferrari will bend any rule to get what it wants. Which is just as well, because I don't think I'm going to be invited back to Maranello any time soon. Shame, the food's bloody marvelous.
How bad has it been? I honestly don't know where to start. Perhaps the 360 Modena press car that was two seconds faster to 100mph than the customer car we also tested. You allow some leeway for "factory fresh" machines, but this thing was ludicrously quick and sounded more like Schumacher's weekend wheels than a street car. Ferrari will never admit that its press cars are tuned, but has the gall to turn up at any of the big European magazines' end-of-year-shindig-tests with two cars. One for straight line work, the other for handling exercises. Because that's what happens when you buy a 458: they deliver two for just those eventualities. The whole thing stinks. In any other industry it wouldn't be allowed to happen. It's dishonest, but all the mags take it between the cheeks because they're too scared of not being invited to drive the next new Ferrari.
Remember the awesome 430 Scuderia? What a car that was, and still is. One English magazine went along with all the cheating-bull**** because the cars did seem to be representative of what a customer might get to drive, but then during the dyno session, the "standard" tires stuck themselves to the rollers.
And this is the nub: how ****ing paranoid do you have to be to put even stickier rubber on a Scuderia? It's like John Holmes having an extra two inches grafted onto his dick. I mean it's not as if, according to your own communication, you're not a clear market leader and maker of the best sports cars in the world now, is it? What Ferrari plainly cannot see is that its strategy to win every test at any cost is completely counter-productive. First, it completely undermines the amazing work of its own engineers. What does it say about a 458 if the only way its maker is willing to loan it to a magazine is if a laptop can be plugged in after every journey and a dedicated team needs to spend several days at the chosen test track to set-up the car? It says they're completely nuts - behavior that looks even worse when rival brands just hand over their car with nothing more than a polite suggestion that you should avoid crashing it too heavily, and then return a week later.
Point two: the internet is good for three things: free ****, Jalopnik and spreading information. Fifteen years ago, if your 355 wasn't as fast as the maker claimed you could give the supplying dealer a headache, whine at the local owners club and not much besides. Nowadays you spray your message around the globe and every bugger knows about it in minutes. So, when we used an owner's 430 Scud because Ferrari wouldn't lend us the test car, it was obliterated in a straight line by a GT2 and a Lambo LP 560-4, despite all the "official" road test figures suggesting it was faster than Halley's Comet. The forums went nuts and some Scud owners rightly felt they hadn't been delivered the car they'd read about in all the buff books. Talk about karma slapping you in the face.
It's the level of control that's so profoundly irritating and I think damaging to the brand. Once you know that it takes a full support crew and two 458s to supply those amazing stats, it then takes the shine off the car. The simple message from Ferrari is that unless you play exactly by the laws they lay down, you're off the list.
What are those laws? Apart from the laughable track test stuff, as a journalist you are expressly forbidden from driving any current Ferrari road car without permission from the factory. So if I want to drive my mate's 458 tomorrow, I have to ask the factory. Will it allow me to drive the car? No: because it is of "unknown provenance," i.e. not tuned. I'm almost tempted to buy a 458, just for the joy of phoning Maranello every morning and asking if its OK if I take my kid to school. Where I've personally run into trouble is by using owners' cars for comparison tests. Ferrari absolutely hates this; even if you say unremittingly nice things about its cars, it goes ape ****. But you want to see a 458 against a GT3 RS so I'm going to deliver that story and that video. Likewise the 599 GTO and the GT2 RS. Ferrari honestly believes it can control every aspect of the media it has actively intervened several times when I've asked to borrow owners' cars.
The control freakery is getting worse: for the FF launch in March journalists have to say which outlets they are writing it for and those have to be approved by Maranello. Honestly, we're perilously close to having the words and verdicts vetted by the Ferrari press office before they're released, which of course has always been the way in some markets.
Should I give a **** about this stuff? Probably not. It's not like it's a life-and-death situation; supercars are pretty unserious tackle. But the best thing about car nuts is that they let you drive their cars, and Ferrari has absolutely no chance stopping people like me driving what they want to drive. Of course their attempts to stop me makes it an even better sport and merely hardens my resolve, but the sad thing is its cars are so good it doesn't need all this ****e. I'll repeat that for the benefit of any vestige of a chance I might have of ever driving a Ferrari press car ever again (which is virtually none). "Its cars are so good it doesn't need this ****e."
None of this will make any difference to Ferrari. I'm just an irrelevant Limey who doesn't really matter. But I've had enough of concealing what goes on, to the point that I no longer want to be a Ferrari owner, a de-facto member of its bull****-control-edifice. I sold my 575 before Christmas. As pathetic protests go, you have to agree it's high quality.
Jesus, this is now sounding like a properly depressing rant. I'll leave it there. Just remember all this stuff then next time you read a magazine group test with a prancing stallion in it.
_______________________________________________

Chris Harris is a UK-based freelance car writer who once bought a 1995 512 TR but sold it when his mates called him Tubbs and put Jan Hammer on his iPod.







Crazy story, hats off, Chris really has some ballz



_______________________________________________
 

Last edited by catchmyshadow; 02-16-2011 at 04:51 AM.
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:10 AM
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I have wondered about this since having witnessed a few 355's driven down a 1/4 mile track, high 13 second to 14 seconds flat is all they would run @ approximately 100 mph, but read magazine tests and they ran 13.0 @ 110 mph. I've also read an article in Car and Driver where they tested a random owners Ferrari instead of a factory supplied one and it ran much slower then what other magazines had tested. Enzo Ferrari was known to be a cheat when he was alive, that is why Ford and Carroll Shelby had to make a point of beating him mercilessly in the mid and late 6o's.
 
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:21 AM
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wow! He got some serious *****! This is why i love Harris!
 
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:53 AM
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aaaahhhhhh man, I like the prouncing horse though..............damn, never ever meet your childhood hero's, it's all conspiracy
 

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Old 02-16-2011, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by catchmyshadow View Post
(long story, but worth reading it)

chris harris (evo magazine uk), feb 15, 2011 3:00 pm i told the blokes at jalopnik i was pissed at ferrari and wanted to tell a few people. They said i could do it here. Stay with me, this might take a while.



crazy story, hats off, chris really has some ballz



_______________________________________________
news just come in, chris harris found with a horses head in his bed!!!!!
 
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Old 02-16-2011, 06:11 AM
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This explains alot actually. Now it kinda makes sense why fcar factory team always got to lime rock a day or two early... and always had no less the six laptops on the car.

I have personally seen a factory guy on the phone with Italy discussing suspension.

Corvette, pcar, nsx factory, lotus, and Ford, just roll the car off the trailer and go.

(My uncle was a consultant for Corvette factory for a number of years, so we had the privlage of going to factory test days, media outlets and the like.)
 
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rayman89 View Post
news just come in, chris harris found with a horses head in his bed!!!!!
 
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:34 AM
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Hats off to Chris for posting this raw truth....

I'm glad there's some people that will tell it how it is!
 
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:30 AM
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That does make a lot of sense.
But it seems that owners of P-cars who time their cars performance (with V-box and etc.) never get close to what the mags get. For instance the new PDK cars 911TT and Pana TT are almost 1 second slower then what the mags get. Is it possible that Porsche is tuning their cars before handing it to the mags for testing.
Why does a mag do 3.3 to 60mph and 11.1 in the 1/4mile in a pana TT, and then sharkwerks can only get 4.7 with stock and 4.4 after an ecu tune to 60mph. That is a huge variance!
And others have tested their 911TT which are highly tuned and can only get 3.2 to 60mph where several different mags have gotten between 2.6 to 2.8 sec to 60mph.
People have tried to tell me that its wheather, altitude, octane, and wind but that just seems too big of a difference.
I am lacking in knowledge and experience with these things but with my limited knowledge this really confuses me.
 
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:49 AM
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Even when mad he's a damn good writer.
 
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:08 PM
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Hats off to Chris Harris. I have always loved his articles and now have even more regard for him due to this level of integrity.
Bish
 
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Old 02-17-2011, 11:21 AM
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That's a good read...it's nice to see some of this stuff getting out. It certainly explains some of the ridiculously quick times posted by the recent Ferraris...especially the California and 599gtb.

I imagine many companies do this to some extent. With Porsche it's probably pretty easy to turn up the boost a notch over what a customer's car would get without anyone knowing. I also remember a comparo with a Vantage 4.7 that posted a 0-100-0 time faster than a GT2 and LP560-4...seemed odd. And the most recent M3 test against the CTS-V posted some surprisingly quick numbers. Lots of other examples are out there.
 
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Old 02-17-2011, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by catchmyshadow View Post
ROFLMFAO!!!hil arioushilariou s
 
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Old 02-17-2011, 06:27 PM
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Its much easier with a turbo car to make interesting numbers, kind of like the one GTR trapped by Inside Line that trapped 124 mph. And no Gen 1 car has done it stock since then and the Gen 2 cars with 50 more hp don't trap that high.

I had a freeway run in with my modified C5 and a 360 Modena I expected at least that he would stay close from a 60 roll. I gained so much by 130 mph that it was pointless to even try. I always thought they felt faster in the car than they actually were.

If the MP4-12C performs on the level that I have read maybe it will be the go to car in the entry exotic segment. And has anyone found it odd the trap speeds as high as 134 mph for the 458 Italia? The other thing that infuriates me is the wildly varying curb weights and the sometimes use of dry weights and sometimes wet weights. Does the 458 Italia weigh 3000 lbs or does it weigh 3200 lbs or is it 3400 lbs?
 

Last edited by germeezy1; 02-17-2011 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 02-17-2011, 07:28 PM
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