Mystery Ferrari SF90 prototype spied in Germany

Ferrari’s groundbreaking SF90 Stradale has been criticised for a lack of synergy, is this prototype a sign it’s in for an update?

A mysterious Ferrari SF90 prototype has been spotted testing new components in Germany, a non-typical location for a Ferrari test mule and one that suggests it’s working on the electronics side of the complex plug-in hybrid supercar. 

We’ve criticised the standard SF90 before due to a certain lack of synergy between its combustion and electric powertrain elements – an admittedly titanic job considering the vast complexity of its twin-turbocharged V8 engine and no less than three electric motors – and it appears as if it might be something someone in the Ferrari supply chain is working to improve. 

This much is obvious due to the chopped up front end that likely hides new or upgraded components underneath. In the current SF90, the front axle is powered by two electric motors that power a front wheel each. As it stands, they’re rated at 133bhp and 83lb ft per motor, which combined with the small 99bhp electric motor sandwiched between the engine and eight-speed DCT add a total of 217bhp to the 986bhp total. 

If those numbers don’t quite add up, it’s because while the electric motors are capable of producing those numbers, the SF90’s electrical system and battery is only able to contribute a maximum of 217bhp to the powertrain’s total at any given time – this is something we suspect Ferrari and Bosch are working together to improve. 

Alongside the upgraded hardware on the front axle, we also suspect work is being done behind the scenes on the SF90’s lithium ion battery pack, which is situated as a transversely-mounted bar between the front seats and the mid-mounted V8 engine. 

There’s also a chance that Bosch is working on some additional active safety devices, with a new piece of hardware found in a similar position to the current radar system. The raised cutaway bonnet suggests that there’s more hardware changes under the skin – even if it’s just there to house temporary calibration or measurement equipment. 

Whatever this mule might be hiding, if Ferrari’s proven anything in its electrified era, it’s that it moves extremely quickly when it comes to its hybrid development. The 296 GTB has already proven that it does a far better job of integrating its hybrid components into its powertrain than the bigger and admittedly more technically complex SF90, so we're expecting the lessons to be learnt here to be applied in short order.   

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