La F550 maranello


Aerodynamics and its values

The 550 maranello is a creature of the wind tunnel. Its aerodynamic shape is the result of hard work that needed 4,800 hours of wind tunnel tests to achieve the targets set by the project, which consisted of:
  • constant vertical load on the wheels, independent of the car's set-up;
  • minimal sensitivity to side winds;
  • minimal drag (Cd = 0.33).

The 550 maranello is another step forward in the aerodynamic development of the car underbody, which has led to excellent stabilistrucuturety and driving safety. The vertical load independent of set-up and a Cz lower than nought are a unique result for a car with no mobile parts or added aerodynamic surfaces.

Particular care went into the design of the front of the car with its characteristics groove, the aerodynamic efficiency of the air intakes, and the interior air flows.

Styling decision

Pininfarina has designed a body with characteristically extreme proportions for this return to a front engine on Ferrari's top performance berlinetta: low and wide, with a large bonnet and cut-off tail, features that immediately give the impression of a great sports car.

To do this Pininfarina used only the following requirements:

  • the need to create an understatement by the adoption of sober, functional features, that are consistent with today's tastes and requirements;
  • the need to respect Ferrari's styling history and the unmistakable personality of the lines it has proposed over the years.
  • The large wings that point up the big wheels, the small roof resting on the solid shoulders of the car's sturdy body, and the long bonnet shaped by a functional air intake, all respect this tradition.

The design of the 550 Maranello is fast and sinewy, with marked dihedrons that stretch the soft surfaces of the sheet metal, creating strong characteristics signs from whatever angle you view the car. The volumes are clean and frank, not smoothed or tapered, so that the car's physical presence underlines its performance.

The roof is unusually light for a Ferrari, with fine pillars that make it less obvious visually and stress the importance of the car body by contrast, the structure housing the mechanicals, which are the heart and soul of the 550 maranello and lower the optical centre of gravity. The front has several original elements: the air intake is positioned very low down and has a narrow shape, incorporating the foglights at either end. The lower edge has a complex, modelled shape that creates an aggressive play of lights.

The air intake for the fuel feed is positioned at the centre of the large bonnet, an engineering requrement that links the present to the past.

This is the first Ferrari to have been conceived and designed from the start with visible light clusters, integrated in the shape of the bodywork.

The side is highlighted at the top by a dihedron that gives it force and dynamism, forming a string, personal motif that emphasises the rear wing. The relationship between the long bonnet and the small rear cabin, and the smooth link with the high tail, are typical of Ferrari.

Two outlets for the engine bay air have been created in the large front wing, between the wheelarch and the door, close obligatory reference to the classic front-engined berlinettas. The rear is simple and powerful: it is higher in the middle where it links up to the roof with a small spoiler, and lower around the wings; the double round lights are characteristics of Ferrari car design.

This apparently natural, spontaneous shape is, like the front spoiler in particular and more generally the whole of the 550 maranello, the fruit of work to integrate styling and aerodynamics.



The bodywork adopts the criteria of a classic front-engined two-seater Ferrari berlinetta. The car is built around a tubular steel frame to which the bodywork is welded.

The latter is in light aluminium alloy, welded to the steel frame using a special alloy known as Feran which allows steel to be welded to aluminium.

In addition to the aerodynamic features mentioned above, the body work is distinguished by technical apertures typical of Ferrari styling at the points of greatest efficiency.

Fixed homofocal front light clusters were designed for this model, and they were incorporated in the bonnet to improve the Cd and wind noise during night driving.

The foglights are incorporated into the front bumper. The door windows are flush with the body work, and fitted with an automatic opening/closing device that is activated when the doors are opened or closed for better all-round sealing.

The efficient frame

The frame of the 550 maranello, is built of high tensile welded steel tubes, with a variable section to optimise the weight. Torsional rigidity is 1500 kgm/degrees, and flexional rigidity is 800 kg/mm.

The Ferrari frame has the constructional simplicity that comes from many years of experience in building racing cars. Simplicity and structural discipline combined with extremely stable performance in time produce an excellent result for vehicles with a strong sports temperament destined for production in limited numbers. All this guarantees total engineering safety in terms of structure, and the reliability of engine, transmission, suspension, steering and brakes anchorage. The safety features are outstanding, particularly with regard to the central cage which is very strong and protected by peripheral elements which constitute a system with high energy absorption. Such high safety standards are a must for a company like Ferrari, which exports over 85% of its production to foreign markets, which means that the strictest safety standards must be met.

Dimensions and weights

Overall length179.13 in
Overall width76.18 in
Maximum height50.27 in
Wheelbase98.43 in
Front track64.25 in
Rear track62.44 in
Kerb weight3726 lb
Tubeless radial tyres      
Front255/40 ZR 18
Rear295/35 ZR 18

Suspensions and non-suspended masses

  Great care was taken to lighten the non-suspended masses: drilled brake discs, aluminium calipers and stub axles, magnesium wheels. The result is pinpoint steering and perfect control of the car in all conditions, but particularly in those problem situations when excellent overall dynamic balance is necessary.

The 550 maranello has independent suspension on all four wheels with transverse parallelogram structure and triangular arms, aluminium gas dampers with coaxial coil springs and anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles.

Constant set-up adjustment

  The suspension incorporates a system to vary dampers settings, which can be adjusted by the driver, using a switch on the facia, in two different levels of ranges of dynamic performance (normal and sport). An electronic control unit with four electric motors monitors the adjustment of each damper.

The damping logic changes inside each range, depending on speed and taking into account vertical acceleration, the steering angle, the throttle valve angle and brake circuit pressure. The same system controls car pitching during transients.

The front track is wider than the rear to guarantee prompt turn-in to corners, and the structure of the front axle is designed to ensure an antidive effect when braking.

The braking system

A car's performance is determined not only by its acceleration and stability but also by the quality if its deceleration. Ferrari developed the braking system of the 550 maranello jointly with Brembo, applying methods borrowed from Formula 1. The system is structured as follows:
  • front: fixed caliper in aluminium alloy, 4 pistons with differentiated diameters 1.5 in./1.8 in. Drilled discs, diameter 13 in., 1.26 in thick;
  • rear: fixed caliper in aluminium alloy, 4 pistons with differentiated diameters 1.2 in./1.3 in. Drilled discs, diameter 12.2 in., 1.1 in thick.

  The brake pads use ITT Galfer 3321 GF friction materials.
The enormous amount of energy exerted on the front axle when braking required a system with large, extra thick diameter drilled front discs and pads made of friction material that guarantees high performance whether hot or cold.

The car's outstanding performance also made it necessary to develop pistons for the front calipers with special thermal insulation devices, that exploit concepts tested by Brembo on Formula 1 Ferraris in recent seasons.

This made it possible to keep the brake fluid temperature at a very good level, even in difficult conditions.

The excellent performance of the braking system is enhanced by the drilled discs, which ensure better grip, even in wet weather, because they burst the film of water when the pad comes into contact with the braking surface.

Continuous refinement of all the components of the braking system ensures prompt braking and shortens the braking distance in all situations. The system is completed by a four-channel ABS incorporating electronic brake effort proportioning which guarantees ideal performance in deceleration above 0.5 g. The whole system was produced taking particular care to limit the weight of the complete assembly.

ASR, drive control system

The system prevents the driven wheels from spinning by the combined action of the rear brakes and the engine management system, which it communicates with a CAN line.

The system adopted by the Ferrari 550 maranello is the only one to offer a choice of two operating levels, selected manually by a switch on the facia:

  • the "normal" mode tends to favour stability according to the condition of the road surface;
  • the "sport" mode favours drive control as a function of performance.

Depending on which mode is selected, the system intervenes by cutting off the torque delivered by the engine, or, co-ordinated by the ABS system, by braking the two rear wheels independently. In other words, it is the first active anti-wheel spin system which the driver is able to control.

The normal/sport selection of the ASR system coincides with selection of the function level of the suspension (one switch governs both selections), giving the driver total control of lateral and longitudinal dynamics of the car.

Speed-sensitive power steering

The ZF rack and pinion steering system comes complete with the Servotronic speed-sensitive power steering device which varies in relation to the speed the level of power assist, in order to adapt steering wheel response to different operating conditions. The direct steering ratio is 13.8:1, while the turning circle is 39.3 ft.


  The wheels of the 550 Maranello were manufactured by Speedline, to Pininfarina's styling indications and Ferrari's technical specifications; they have a monolithic structure, made of magnesium alloy with low pressure casting. The wheel has five convex spokes, with five central bore holes. The front wheels measure 8.5 x 18" and the rear 10.5 x 18".

The choice of diameters was decided by the need to fit large brake discs and low profile tyres. As a result, the front wheel 24.9 lb, a 25% reduction on standard values.

The wheel has passed both Ferrari's own severe tests and those of the German LBF Technical Institute (duration at least 300.000 km). Each wheel is protected by a special cycle of anti-corrosion paint patented by Speedline.

Tyres and fuel tank

For the first time on a production car, the tyres were designed with the car. Having set a target for the car's performance level, the frame, suspension and tyres were developed in parallel deciding the characteristics of each subsystem, including the tyres, and optimising performance on the basis of the final result.

The 550 maranello has homologated four different types of tyres, all produced specially for this car. Each manufacturer has given a particular interpretation to the brief, based on specific experience in racing and long-standing co-operation with Ferrari. The homologated tyres have the following measurements: front: 255/40 ZR 18; rear: 295/35 ZR 18; and are: Bridgestone Expedia S02, GoodYear Eagle GS Fiorano, Pirelli P Zero, Michelin MXX 3 Pilot (front tyres 235/45 ZR 18).

The fuel tank is in light aluminium alloy and holds 30 US gal. The fuel pumps are of the immersed type. The tank is in a protected position in front of the rear axle, underneath the car.

The horsepower and how it is controlled