The neverending challenge
Why waste years of study to improve one’s knowledge of an ecosystem?
Why try and write an even more heartbreaking and delicate ballad after so many already written?
Why walk across the desert in the shortest time possible, or sail across the ocean in deep solitude?
What is wrong in men? What is there so twisted in his soul that leads him to see any limit as a perpetual challenge? As though it were a knife pointed at his pride, or a disgrace he has been trying to acquit himself of by way of a millennial, tireless, and exhausting effort of fine-tuning and selfimprovement, overcoming each successive obstacle…
And yet, only someone indifferent would deem this foreword of mine too “epical” when talking about cars; only someone superficial would be unable to acknowledge the cultural significance behind the almost simultaneous inception of three projects, such as Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918.
What is extraordinary in these cars is that three companies, with their groups of talented professionals, have given rise to three different recipes which in an amazingly short time have managed to express three originally diverse and technically innovative answers.
The explicit goal of each manufacturer was to sensibly raise the performance bar, in terms of both manoeuvrability and accessibility for professional and amateur drivers alike, by following a different, perhaps less “baroque” approach to what Bugatti did with the Veyron.
Price limit is often a challenge for all of us designers, and for car body designers in particular, but there are a few times when this limit is withdrawn: that is when either kitsch and bad taste can originate or, on the contrary, sublime projects in which the most exotic materials are used and the most innovative solutions deployed, thanks to the most refined technical and electronic equipments.
LaFerrari, P1 and 918 are embodiments of this: they are the fruit of the highest technological achievement coordinated by designers whose final goal has been to improve something already existing, so that progress is made on everyone’s behalf.
The intoxicating sensation of doing something for the first time, alongside with the considerable diversity of the three projects, goes to show how innovation can be the cure against homogenisation.
Each car is different from the others in its style, in the values it embodies, in the way it provides and supplies its power, even in the number of engines and driving wheels.
The objective difficulty in establishing the winner should be perceived by the lovers of progress and innovation as a great victory: many different ways must be tried before reaching the same, unattained goal.
In this case the outcome is unbelievable: an amazing power has been obtained by a careful design of the distribution curves and by matching internal combustion and electrical engines to bring about an unprecedented harmony between the two technologies.
No longer do we find an opposition between two different engines, but an integration leading to a better result than would be achieved by the sum of its addends.
While the electrical engine is totally integrated within LaFerrari, it can propel the P1 for about ten kilometres and the 918 for almost thirty.
Different approaches lead to comparable results, equally worth pursuing.
The compact style of the 918 turns into pure excitement just behind the front seats thanks to the most extraordinary vertical exhaust pipes; in the P1 McLaren designers have luckily avoided the MP4’s coziness and chosen a curvy bodyline, not too organic, slenderly wrapped around its amazing mechanical core. LaFerrari, too, diverges from the F40’s racing nihilism; it steers away from the Enzo’s harshness through its extraordinary balance of curves and streamlined surfaces poised between fluid science and lyricism.
There are too many prominent technical elements in all these cars to be mentioned here, and far too many words would be necessary to comment extensively the body design of vehicles that have to ensure a perfect stability at 350 km/h. They do so thanks to movable parts and attachments that enable the aerodynamic variation of the downforce in each successive driving phase , as well as the cooling down of all mechanical components.
Above all, they are set to convey the sheer power of a dream, a self-imposed challenge. Knowing that not just one, but three manufacturing firms have come out on the winning side can only fill our hearts with joy.