Ask the experts: what makes a great handling car? Michael Leiters

Michael Leiters - Chief technology officer, Ferrari

What’s the most important feature for a driver’s car? 

Driving emotions. That means a direct and immediate response to all the actions taken by the driver, which has to be perceived by all the driver’s senses: not just eyes and ears, but also the stomach.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

What’s the best-handling car you’ve driven? 

The Ferrari 488 GT3.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

What’s the best-handling current production car you’ve driven?

The 488 Pista.

What car maker do you respect, and why? 

I respect all manufacturers that translate brand values into coherent product characteristics. I’m impressed by makers that have a vision which looks beyond existing limits and that play a pioneering role in sports cars, but also in other areas like electric car production, or autonomous driving.

What do you think will be the next big thing in chassis development?

I can’t talk about that, because we are working on it now!

Advertisement - Article continues below

Has EPAS made good handling easier to achieve? 

I can only really comment for Ferrari, and the answer is a decisive yes. With EPAS we were able to give the driver better driving feeling and feedback, providing support especially when on the limit. Thanks to the integration of EPAS into our electronic vehicle dynamics controls on the 812 Superfast, we were able to introduce what we call the Ferrari Peak Performance Advisor, which helps the driver understand when the car is approaching its limit and gives steering wheel torque feedback to help control oversteer.

Driver modes – useful or unnecessary? 

Very useful. Ferrari pioneered the integration of different electronic vehicle dynamics controls into a single, steering-wheel-mounted command with the manettino on the F430. Being able to control the various vehicle performance parameters in each individual setting enables each driver to benefit from the maximum control of the car depending on conditions and their own ability, and this is one of the major factors in enhancing the driving emotions I was talking about earlier.

Is the Nürburgring useful to car set-up? 

The Nordschleife is an important engineering reference – its length and complexity give us very robust feedback on the general handling parameters of a car. But for Ferrari, it is just a part of our development process – we’re not looking to set a record for just one lap. Ferrari’s philosophy is instead to build a car that any client can drive out of the showroom, take to the Nordschleife and lap in times close to that of our test drivers – times unimaginable just a few years ago. The real secret behind Ferrari’s DNA is the Fiorano track and the roads around Maranello. That’s how we find our unique combination of performance, grip, handling and ride comfort.

Advertisement - Article continues below

How do you make an all-electric car engaging for enthusiast drivers? 

I’d rather you passed this question on to other car manufacturers!

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/review/202972/aston-martin-dbx-review-the-first-performance-suv-to-deliver-on-its-promise
Reviews

Aston Martin DBX review - the first performance SUV to deliver on its promise

Aston Martin's first SUV is more than a good SUV, the DBX is the best car the British firm makes
10 Aug 2020
Visit/audi/s3/202806/2020-audi-s3-sportback-and-s3-saloon-revealed-the-four-wheel-drive-golf-gti
Audi S3

2020 Audi S3 Sportback and S3 saloon revealed – the four-wheel drive Golf GTI

Audi’s next S3 Sportback follows a well-trodden path, filling a gap it once defined
11 Aug 2020
Visit/maserati/ghibli/202975/maserati-ghibli-trofeo-revealed-sober-dressed-bmw-m5-rival-finally-arrives
Maserati Ghibli

Maserati Ghibli Trofeo revealed – sober-dressed BMW M5 rival finally arrives

Some seven years after the launch of its executive saloon, Maserati has given it a V8 – with 572bhp
10 Aug 2020
Visit/porsche/911-targa/202979/porsche-911-targa-4s-2020-review-the-oddball-911-thats-a-refreshing
Porsche 911 Targa

Porsche 911 Targa 4S 2020 review - the oddball 911 that’s a refreshing alternative

New 911 Targa 4S offers coupe usability with more style than a convertible, but four-wheel drive only will put off those looking for the purist 911 dr…
10 Aug 2020