The video above puts our fast laps of Anglesey in the Ferrari 458 Speciale and Nissan GT-R head-to-head, so you can compare how the two quickest cars we’ve lapped go about their business.
For our timed laps in the Ferrari we’re running with everything switched off to give us a fully transparent picture of the 458 Speciale’s limits. The difference between this analogue mode and those with some electronic assistance is marked. Only now do you appreciate how subtle and refined the electronics are and how much they are juggling to maintain a neutral handling stance. You’re also struck by just how driveable the Speciale is when you really go for it. It totally sucks you in, drawing you ever deeper into its reserves of turn-in response, mid-corner grip and apex-to-exit traction. Likewise the brakes, which borrow technology from the LaFerrari to deliver increased stopping power with smaller calipers and pads than the regular 458, and stop you like a brick wall.
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Ultimately you’re in search of two things in the Speciale – a neutral balance through the fast stuff and traction out of the tighter corners. The quick Turn 1 left and Church right-hander need commitment and precision; the former to preserve minimum speed, the latter to scribe a clean trajectory that loads front and rear ends equally. Through the tighter stuff you can light the rear Michelin Pilot Sport 2s up, but finding that point where they’re just over-rotating requires real discipline and finesse.
The GT-R, in comparison, is a brutal machine. Endurance racer Marino Franchitti posted the fast lap in the video above. ‘The GT-R has a very specific style, You have to brake in a straight line, do all your turning in one quick rotation, get the car straight and get on the power. Once you do it’s so explosive. In the slower corners the balance feels really good. You have to choose a point to get on the throttle, but if you pick it up too early it gets into an understeer slide that you can’t control. You just have to bail out of the corner completely.
‘In the high-speed stuff I got a lot of understeer that I just had to drive through. It’s a narrow performance band, but who cares? Once you’re in that band, it’s just savage. It’s incredible.’