Maury Phillips/WireImage for May Day Production
Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling
Also on hand -- literally -- was Ferrari's manettino vehicle dynamics controller, a rotary knob mounted on the steering wheel at "4 o'clock." (A red engine-start button sat opposite at "8 o'clock.") In the 599, the manettino controlled five sets of parameters governing throttle action, F1 gearbox shift points and smoothness, and intervention of Ferrari's "F1-Trac" stability/traction-control system.
Also under its purview was the driver-adjustable SCM suspension, the initials denoting "magnetorheological suspension control." This referred to shock absorbers with a special fluid that instantly changed viscosity, and thus damping firmness, as directed by an electric current. Ferrari developed it in conjunction with America's Delphi Corporation, which supplied a similar system for the 2003 Chevrolet Corvette and several later General Motors cars.
Revisions to the F1-Trac stability control also enhanced roadability. As Ferrari explained it, the updated system "monitors the speed of both front and rear wheels and features predictive software that estimates the maximum available grip in advance, compares this information with [a stored] vehicle dynamics model ... and adjusts its reactions to suit, optimizing traction by modulating power delivery." Ferrari claimed this as world first while asserting it provided "easier, smoother high-performance driving."
The Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano manettino had "Ice" and "Low Grip" positions for challenging weather, but keen pilots paid more attention to the other three: corsa (Race), giving the most aggressive characteristics; Sport, providing "the best balance between stability and performance on the road," and Off.
As on other recent Ferraris, a dashboard screen displayed the manettino setting, plus trip data, tire pressure and temperature, even lap times. A final gee-whiz touch, but useful, was the bank of five tiny lights in the top of the steering wheel rim to indicate optimal shift points.