If you’ve been watching the train wreck that is the new Top Gear then you might have caught the film where Chris Harris took out the new Ferrari F12 TDF and put on a sideways driving clinic. He also had quite a few good things to say about the more ferocious and lightweight version of the F12 as he was mid drift through a corner. But that hasn’t always been the case with cars sporting the prancing Horse.
There was actually a time when Harris was banned by Ferrari from driving any of their press cars that are available to automotive journalists. It all started with an article that he wrote for Jalopnik back in 2011 titled “How Ferrari Spins“. The article went on to throw accusations at Ferrari for modifying the press cars that were given to compete in magazine shootouts. When you are considered the most powerful brand in the world you don’t take this kind of thing lightly, especially with Harris having such a large following on the internet. So in retaliation, the executives at Ferrari issued the ban.
The car the spiked all this controversy was a 360 Modena press car that recorded a 0-100mph time that was two full seconds quicker than a customer car that was also tested. Two seconds is a significant difference when the whole process takes less than 10 seconds. There was also a report of putting a 430 Scuderia on a dyno for testing, but the tires had such sticky compound that they literally stuck themselves to the rollers of the dyno.
Interestingly, what ended up fixing the problem and ultimately got the ban removed was driving a Ferrari, the very thing he was banned from doing! On an episode of Harris on Cars in 2013 he got his hands on a Ferrari 458 Spider and one of the first few lines of the show Harris goes on to say “the car belongs to Ferrari, and I’m probably not supposed to be driving it, but I’m not going to dwell on that”. The car was allegedly loaned to Jeremy Clarkson who then lent it to Harris, but there is no concrete evidence of that so it’s all speculation.
Harris went on to do a review just under 6 minutes long and although it surely pained him to do so, he had nothing but great things to say about the car. Even going as far as saying it was “an absurdly good car to drive”. Because Harris had built up such a following, the video got over a million views. Word eventually got back to Ferrari that not only had Harris driven one of their cars, but had wonderful things to say about it. Not long after that the ban was lifted and Ferrari started loaning him cars again.
It is a good thing too, because that film of the F12 TDF was one of the better Harris films I’ve seen, with exception of the Aston Martin Vulcan, maybe. The TDF stands for Tour de France (not the bicycle race), it actually refers to an endurance auto race held from 1899-1986 that Ferrari dominated through the 50’s and 60’s.
The TDF is a more hardcore, track ready version of the F12 that now puts out 769hp out of the same naturally aspirated 6.3L V12 versus the 730hp that came stock. Ferrari used the same double clutch gearbox only now up shifts are 30% quicker and downshifts 40% quicker. The biggest difference though is what’s been done to the aerodynamics of the car. All of the wings and flares that you’re seeing are all functional pieces. When traveling at 124mph, the TDF is producing over 500lbs of down force which is almost double that of the stock F12. When all of this works together the end result are some pretty impressive performance numbers, 0-60 in the TDF is rated at 2.9 seconds versus the stock 3.1. The most impressive though is the lap time this car put down at the Ferrari test track, 1 minute 21 seconds which is only 1.3 seconds behind the LaFerrari! There will only be a limited number of the TDF’s made and pricing is said to be over $400,000.