Hagerty Video: Driving a Ferrari 458 GTE at the F1 Austrian Grand Prix track | Henry Catchpole – The Driver’s Seat

Driving a Ferrari 458 GTE at the F1 Austrian Grand Prix track | Henry Catchpole - The Driver's Seat

Posted: 2023-06-21 15:00:42
Author: Hagerty
There’s a host of ways to get your hypercar kicks on track these days. Specials like Aston Martin’s Valkyrie AMR Pro or McLaren’s Solus or even Ferrari’s own FXX-K Evo all offer circuit-specific thrills. But if you’ve got a couple of million Euros (real or fantasy) to spend then how about a genuine race car, with real pedigree? How about a Ferrari 458 GTE that actually raced at Le Mans, twice?

What makes this Ferrari even more appealing is that its road car counterpart, the 458 Speciale, is one of the all-time greats. And, as Henry Catchpole discovered during his drive, there are clear similarities between the road car and race car. The GTE is, however, definitely louder. A lot louder. And the Speciale is hardly known for being a shrinking violet. But with a 4.5-litre, naturally aspirated V8 at its heart, the mighty wall of noise that emanates from the 458 GTE’s exhaust pipes is ear-splittingly glorious.

Chassis 2874 first raced at Le Mans with AF Corse exactly a decade before this year’s victorious Ferrari 499P Hypercar. But arguably its greatest moment at the famous 24 hour race came the year after, in 2014. That year Sam Bird put the car on pole in the GTE AM category but beat all bar one of the Pro cars in the process. It was an extraordinary lap.

In this episode we’re not at the Circuit de la Sarthe but instead in Austria at the beautiful and undulating Red Bull Ring. Why? Well, Girardo & Co (which currently has the car for sale) was part of the excellent Challenge and GT Days event, which hosts a huge collection of Ferrari track cars – everything from a 355 Challenge with a manual ‘box to the latest 488 Challenge Evo. It makes for quite a sight in the pits.

We hope you enjoy this episode of The Driver’s Seat. Would you like to see more race cars featured on the Hagerty YouTube Channel? If so, which ones would pique your interest? Let us know in the comments down below. And please do share this episode with others or think about taking out a Hagerty Driver’s Club membership (https://bit.ly/Join-HDC-Henry) if you’d like to help us continue to produce films like this. Thank you, as always, for your support.

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Hagerty Video Transcript

– Today we are at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, which is definitely one of the more picturesque circuits I’ve ever been to, with perhaps the most fascinating reception area. And during the Challenge and GT days, the pit garages are pretty spectacular too. Come and have a look in here.

Wow, it’s so cool. Love this. Makes me think of a Stratos. Obviously, the Alitalia livery. Manual box in it, 355 Challenge. Just all off down there, down there. Latest 488 Challenge here, slightly different to that 355. Obviously this is the pit lane. Amazing steep up to the first corner.

It’s very smart here as well. Red Bull Ring, love this. 360 GTC car with the yellow lights. And then this is interesting as well ’cause we’ve got 488 Challenge Evo, 488 GT3, and then this gray car here with the yellow stripes is the 488 Modificata,

So that’s the sort of the one you just, you drive at track days, you can’t race it, a bit like the McLaren 720S GTX. Another 360 GTC, just looks cool, big sequential box in there. And then the main event, what I’m here to drive,

The coolest thing in this already extremely cool pit lane. 458 GTE that raced at Le Mans, twice. This 2013 Classiche certified example currently for sale with Girardo & Co. is one of just 11 Works 458 GTEs built by Michelotto for AF Corse. Yes, the AF Corse that has just helped Ferrari

To overall victory at Le Mans in 2023 with a 499P. The GTE has a naturally aspirated four and a half liter V8 putting out around 460 brake horsepower and 400 pounds foot of torque. That’s actually around 1000 brake horsepower down compared to the road going 458 Italia, thanks to restrictor regulations.

But at just 1,245 kilos or 2,745 pounds, the car weighs significantly less than even a Speciale. It also sounds enormous, but loud. So much louder than anything else. Intimidatingly loud. (engine revving) And with very mixed weather conditions at the Red Bull Ring, I was more than a little nervous

As I donned my Nomex romper suit and Stilo helmet. Is it both a beauty and a beast? Are there any similarities with a road car? Time to find out. A friendly clutch is a wonderful thing. (chuckles) So we have the pit late speed limits on just at the moment. Which is actually a whole, so it’s not just a limiter, it’s a whole pit lane strategy for the car. It’s a bit like a wet mode actually,

Which is actually linked to the tires. So regardless of whether the track is wet or not, when you have wet tires, you have the wet mode. So one of the thing’s you’ll notice straight away is actually is the steering. I mean, it might sound cheesy, but you really do notice the similarities with a 458 Speciale. And I said that to Cristiano Michelotto, yes, that Michelotto, and he said one of the very, very few parts they had to keep over from the road car is the steering wreck so it makes total sense. Other things that you recognize from the road car, well, the way they raise the car,

So it’s multimatic suspension. But the Speciale also rides beautifully. It’s not actually voracious in quickness. But, it’s certainly quick enough and it sounds just glorious. Other similarities with the road car, well obviously we’ve got a paddle shift here, but unlike the road car, this is a Hewland Sequential, so you do just have to think a little bit about how you use this.

It doesn’t like you if shift it just willy nilly. So you wanna be flat on the throttle when you upshift- And then you have to be completely off the throttle on the downshift, so hence I’m ripe for breaking today just to make sure that I’m not overlapping brake and throttle at any point when I’m coming into the corners. We’ve got no ABS in this so, you have to be just a bit careful into the braking zones. But I say, the brake pedals got so much feel in it that although you obviously have to hit the brakes hard to start with and then just bleed off the brake slightly

As you lose aero down force. We have got traction control in here though. Oh, this is so much fun! And actually, surprisingly friendly to drive as well. Friendly, that is, once you’ve learned what everything does. Because despite a nice normal round steering wheel, its success in the 488 got a yolk, The 458 GT’s helm is quite different to the one in a Ferrari road car. For a start, the paddles move with the wheel

Rather than remaining static on the steering column. And while the road cars are known for having some of the busiest steering wheels in the business, they’ve got nothing on the colorful proliferation of M&M like buttons on the GTE. And I’ve never seen a road car with a button that says.

Panic, next to it. What could panic mean, what could it be? Apparently it’s just a single wipe of the windscreen wiper. There we go, but I like a steering wheel that says panic on it. Other stuff on here, drink, indicators, neutral, so you have to press that

And then pull the paddle to get into first gear and then just remember obviously to come back into neutral when you come back into the pit lane. All the stuff, we’ve got the shift lights there but also down here, fuel level, big light to keep an eye on that.

And then there’s stuff down here. So to start the car, pretty simple really, pull on the clutch and then flick that down twice and then the red button here, you can do it all very quickly, you don’t need to wait for it to wake up, ’cause obviously in a race

You just wanna be able to get straight out straight away. Be careful not to put your hand on top there, because that’s the fire extinguisher up at the top. Switches down here, ooh, in sort of this just beautifully, tt’s that race car sort of, you know, machined stuff there. Red, blue, yellow,

Traction control, engine mix, and then recovery. And that’s one of the interesting things about this because you can, if you have a sense of failure, maybe if you get a lambda sense of failure, you can switch that round and you can override all sorts of things just to keep the car going.

Another cool thing with that, we’ve got a wet switch which I’ll explain in a bit, sort of changes all the parameters in the car. Also lights down here, standard lights and 24 hour lights. And then here, gearbox mode. And that’s one of the things

I think really sets this car apart as a proper race car, because that puts the gearbox into full manual mode. So if you want to downshift at 8,000 RPM and lunch it, it will let you do it. But it’s one of those things where there are all sorts of things on this car

That if you are stuck out at the far end of Le Mans in the middle of the night, whether something’s gone wrong or maybe you’ve crashed, but you’ve gotta get this car, by hook or by crook, back to the pits. You’ve got the tools to do it in this

And override any form of automation, basically. It’s just super cool, and a bit serious. Right, after a change of tires and some more fuel it’s time for me to head back out of the pits again. So apparently you should all think about joining the Hagerty Driver’s Club. Lots of benefits, including a magazine. There you go, it’s what they said on the radio. What a track this is, it’s so beautiful! And every corner gives you something to think about. So you seem to be either braking, uphill or downhill, and then there’s nowhere that’s sort of really flat. You want a car that’s on your side here, definitely. And you can just feel it rotate, and you have that lovely edge. When you really start getting it into it then you feel it in the Ferrari road cars, it is in here, that DNA. Watching the red lights, there we go. Take a braking point there. All the way up the apex.

Clearly it’s squirreling around now on those wets. Tony Vilander, Olivier Beretta, Kamui Kobayashi, Matt Girardo. Actually, I could have mentioned some other names like Giancarlo Fisichella as well, because chassis 2874 had a busy couple of seasons at the top level. Racing in GTE Pro in 2013, it made its debut at the Silverstone 6 Hours, where it finished second in class

Before heading off round the world to Spa, Le Mans, Sao Paolo, Texas, Shanghai, Fuji, and Bahrain. Four podiums in total helped Ferrari win the FIA World Endurance Cup for manufacturers that year. Then in 2014 it was entered in the GT Am category and had an incredible moment in the south

When Le Mans rookie Sam Bird not only put the car on pole for its class, but also beat all bar one of the pro cars. 2874s final outing in the top flight was at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where a few more names were added to its glittering roster.

With Vilander being joined by Bruney, Colard and Perroto. This is the car that you sort of think, oh, weirdly I can imagine doing a double stint in this and actually it would be okay. I spoke to Cristiano Michelotto about it and he was saying that when they designed this they wanted a car that was kind on his tires

So that it was consistent through a stint. And when a car is kind on its tires, and it’s also kind to the driver apparently, which makes sense. This is so special, I just… (chuckles) And it’s surprisingly easy to drive this actually. It’s really not that intimidating. Just enough intimidating, obviously. And I was nervous before I drove this but.

Oh, I don’t actually need a can of Red Bull right now. Voom, that instant cutoff of a race car. (chuckles) Which you hear in a Speciale as well. There are similarities here. A 458 GTE like this is of course rather more money than even a low mile Speciale.

But at around two million euros, it is about half the price of many of the latest track only hypercars. Things like the McLaren Solus, Valkyrie AMR Pro, and Gordon Murray’s T50S. Some of those will almost certainly be faster, but none has genuine Le Mans pedigree,

Nor will they be eligible for racing in a couple of years. So this is certainly worth throwing into the mix if you are looking for something to fill that gap in your real or fantasy garage. Well it’s raining again. The weather during this has been interesting, quixotic I think you might say.

But through all of that, and perhaps the biggest takeaway about this car, is that it’s felt like it’s been on my side. It’s an amazing car and in some ways it’s very intimidating ’cause you have that incredible history which makes it so appealing and the noise, which also makes it appealing,

’cause it’s by far and away (engine revving) the loudest thing in this pit lane. But for all that when you get into it, almost straight away you feel, yeah, like I say, like it wants to be driven and let you do an awful lot of laps in it.

The the flip side to that is that perhaps it’s not the most sort of, the most tactile and engaging and gritty and sort of, wow sort of factor car in some respects. But whereas a lot of cars I think you jump out of after five laps,

Race cars you think, I just, I can’t, I can’t have any more of that for a bit. This, you just wanna do lap after lap and session after session. I think you could visit all sorts of new tracks and learn them with confidence ’cause you just look forward to driving it.

It might sound slightly odd, but over my time with it, I kind of curiously feel like I’ve made a friend in the 458 GTE.