550 at Silverstone

Enjoyed a great day at Silverstone with the 550 today.

Performance on circuit…hmm.
As many of you have already commented, this car wasn’t built for track work. I’ve never driven a car before that’s been so sensitive to changes in tyre pressure and temperature. Initial experimentation on circuit saw the thing understeer like crazy. Combination of both high tyre pressures, slight traction control and a MASSIVE V12 lump in the front meant the rears weren’t getting any priority so the fronts were suffering.
Back to the pits, deflated the tyres considerably, traction control totally off and out again. Boy what a difference. My GT3RS was a LOT more competent on circuit. In fact, I doubt there’s a better production track tool out there (and no, I’m not counting those 4 wheeled motorbikes they pass off as production cars). However, as compotent the RS was, the 550 was SO much more fun.

Heavy nose meant having to rely on some clever weight distribution mid bend and also some balanced right foot application, coming in with a trailing throttle and then burying it on the exit for some glorious power oversteer. Real neutral handling and very adjustable. If you went in expecting the front to grip, then you’ll end up in the tyre wall. Need to make sure you enter that bend with consideration, it really is a slow in, fast out car.

But, it IS heavy and you can feel it. Any abrupt movement in the balance of the car, especially mid-bend, meant some heavy weight transfer that may end up messy. But in control, it’s beautifully progressive and has no snappy tendencies.

Track work is very expensive though. That 1.8 tonne of weight means tyre scrub and HOT brakes. I think I’ve pretty much destroyed a set of tyres (strangely, the fronts go but I think thats a combination of both incorrect tyre pressures and my own inexperience) so there’s £1000 there, and I reckon my pads will need to be changed. Got a strange feeling discs are OK. Still, amazingly, front pads and discs are only £600 – for a V12 Ferrari that’s very cheap.

This car isn’t intended for the track. Although the massive power means you can use the monstrous low down torque to great effect. You could do the whole of Silverstone in 5th – effectively – just by relying on the huge grunt provided by the 5.5 V12. Redline is never reached on any gears, you simply don’t need to because it runs out of steam top end. But, for all it’s failings, it’s one of the greatest cars I’ve ever driven. Just huge, hooligan fun.

Just drove back from mums house and the roads are large, 3 lane dual carriageways. Oh god this car is so fast. I switched off traction control and to be honest, the rear is so provocative, begging you to let it slide.
Yesterday, at an undisclosed location, my traction control warning light came on at 160MPH.

And that noise!! It sounds absolutely FANTASTIC. I’ve got some video, but waiting for the right firewire cable to arrive, then I’ll host it.

GT3RS is fast becoming a distant memory.
My V-Spec 2 Nur pulls strings of regret – that car was special.
But for now, 550 is my king.

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