Big Time

Big Time 1
Big Time 2
Big Time 3
Big Time 4
Big Time 5
Big Time 6
Big Time 7
Big Time 8

With the F12’s effortless speed, it’s easy to go in hot—but this approach never pays off, as once the car’s rear end steps out in one turn, it effectively makes the next turn a much bigger deal than it needs to be. Flashy-looking flicks throughout this section would be fun—the Ferrari would certainly be a willing accomplice, since it produces tail-happy slides with the eagerness of a pickup truck on gravel—but I’m trying to set good lap times, not paint black lines with the rear tires.

More patience and more precision are needed in the esses in the F12 compared to the 458, and this also proves true in the following section, Turns 6-9. The corners come quickly, one after another, once again giving the advantage to the more nimble Italia.

Starting with Turn 10, though, the F12 began to make up ground—fast. This quick, downhill corner has a blind entry, so it places the emphasis on driver precision and car composure. Aiding the latter is the engine’s tremendous reserve of torque, which keeps me from having to shift gears and risk upsetting the car’s balance. Egged on by its melodious V12, the Ferrari rockets through the turn, setting up a very tough braking assignment for the critical Turn 11, which leads onto the back straight.

Turn 11 is similar to Turn 1 in that both feature very wide entries yet are very tight corners—hairpins, really. Both were also clearly designed to encourage creativity in line selection and to entice passing under braking. The F12 proves very amenable to trail braking right to the apex; in addition, the steering provides plenty of feedback and it’s easy to swing the back end around to get a good launch off the turn.

IT SHOULD COME as little surprise that this Ferrari launches very well. FDE Chief Instructor and professional racer Nick Longhi refers to the F12’s profound acceleration as “an unstoppable force”—this from a guy who’s piloted a modern Ferrari F1 car around Monza—and he’s right.

Where other seriously fast cars start to run out of steam somewhere around 140 mph, the F12 is still accelerating hard, as if its top speed simply didn’t exist. It’s truly incredible, to the point where it forces me to re-evaluate every other road car I’ve driven. There are countless cars out there that can produce visceral thrills up to 60 mph, far fewer that can carry the feeling forward to 100 mph and not many at all that can replicate those emotions well into the triple digits. This Ferrari does so easily: It’s thrilling no matter what the speedometer reads, but it really outperforms the competition when speeds climb into the stratosphere.

Indeed, the F12 is so fast that there are very few points around the track at which I dare peek at the speedometer. Once on the front straight, which is some 10-20 mph slower than the back, I watched the readout crest 150 mph and continue to climb rapidly.

Also from Issue 133

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