The Ferrari F430 - Chassis and Aerodynamics | Part Seven

Ferrari F430

Ferrari F430


The chassis of the F430 fully exploits Ferrari’s world-leading expertise in aluminium technology. In the same way as the 360 Modena, the first Ferrari berlinetta built entirely in aluminium, the F430 chassis is constructed at the Scaglietti facility in Modena in collaboration with Alcoa. The choice of aluminium and the design methods used have enabled two main objectives to be achieved: considerable structural stiffness and excellent driver and passenger protection with minimal weight.

The spaceframe chassis consists of a mix of aluminium extrusions, panelling and cast nodes (riveted or welded depending on the area) and has been completely revised using finite element analysis to further reinforce key areas. Chassis rigidity, which is indispensable for optimal handling, has been increased by 20% in terms of torsion and by 8% in terms of flexure.

Just like with a F1 monocoque, the increased structural rigidity means that only the suspension absorbs variations in the road surface. This in turn means that there is no deformation of the chassis to interfere with the car’s road-holding in cornering, braking or under acceleration. The improvements to the chassis have also brought the car’s passive safety features up to excellent standards. A minimal increase in overall chassis weight of 10% has enabled Ferrari’s engineers to increase the resistance to front-end impact by 37% and to rear-end impact by an astonishing 105% (in compliance with US standard 301).

To achieve such high standards, particular care was taken over the chassis design in the vital crumple zones, integrating the design of the various elements with the type of aluminium used. The central part of the chassis does not absorb energy, but is rigid enough to resist intrusion and roll over. Front and rear armature increases crash resistance, while the mountings of the side impact bars have been strengthened and reinforced so as to transfer energy throughout the chassis away from the area of impact. Similarly, the areas around the A-post and B-post and inner wheel arches have been reinforced. The floor of the car is in a new aeronautical alloy which sees use for the first time in a chassis. This alloy (7075 T6), is extremely resistant and its light weight provides further advantages. The door structure, the chassis reinforcements, the positioning of the collapsible arm rest and a more enveloping seat shape provide excellent protection. Scores in side impact tests were so good that side airbags were deemed unnecessary.


Traditionally, Ferrari has designed the bodywork to satisfy the need for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. In the case of the F430, this principle has been developed to the extreme, employing exactly the same engineering approach to computer development models and wind tunnel testing as used by the F1 team. In this way, Ferrari’s engineers have been able to modulate the air flow both around the car, as well as under it, to perfection. The result is a highly efficient configuration that channels air flow for maximum downforce and thus grip. Similarly air is channelled to the engine to both increase power as well as optimise cooling of transmission and brakes even under the heaviest use. Perfecting the F430’s aerodynamics has brought about a 50 per cent increase in downforce compared to the 360 Modena, thus increasing high-speed stability and the car’s active safety. At 124 mph (200 km/h), that figure equates to 45 kg more downforce than the 360 Modena and this becomes 85 kg at 186 mph (300 km/h), amounting to a total of 280 kg. The significant progress made in the car’s aerodynamics is also reflected in the improvement of the ratio between the coefficient of downforce (Cl) and the drag coefficient (Cd) with a 40% improvement over the 360 Modena. This excellent result was in part achieved by including a new spoiler at the bottom of the front bumper where it cleaves ‘clean’ air, i.e. that still undisturbed by the turbulence generated around the body of the vehicle. Lengthy development of the shape and the angle of attack of the spoiler resulted in an impressive increase in downforce over the front axle - up to 130 kg - which contributes in no uncertain manner to longitudinal vehicle stability and steering precision.

The nolder on the trailing edge of the engine cover works in conjunction with the new diffuser between the rear wheels.

continues... | Part Eight
Published 27 October 2004 Melanie Carter

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