Physics tells us that even a Ferrari pushed to the extreme will eventually lose its grip on the road, often with cataclysmic results.
It happens when the gravitational force acting on the car exceeds the driver’s desire to go in the other direction.
We know because we found the limits of the bright yellow Porsche Cayman that we were driving on Dubai’s $150 million grand prix circuit.
The beauty of race tracks, at least modern ones, is that they are designed for this eventuality — with run off areas where cars can slide harmlessly to a halt without hitting anything.
In the old days it meant certain death or serious injury.
My little “off” happened on a section of the circuit doused with water — part wet and part dry — just to make things that little bit more challenging.
Reaching the apex of a corner, I applied too much throttle too soon (at least that’s the way I remember it) forcing the rear of the car to flick sideways.
I watched as the Porsche in slow motion described a full circle around me before coming to a rest.
Intact, but with a slightly bruised ego, I was able to drive off again, hardly missing a beat.
In fact, it was over so quickly, that no one realised it had even happened — but they say confession is good for the soul.
We were in the United Arab Emirates at the invitation of Pirelli tyres to test their new high performance P Zero.
The Italian manufacturer reckons the P Zero is the best performance tyre in the world and frankly it is a claim I find difficult to dispute.
The Dubai circuit was divided into a number of areas, each with a different exercise designed to highlight the advantages of the tyre.
At each stop there was a smorgasbord of cars from which to choose, but before we got started we treated to some hot laps in a V10 Lamborghini Gallardo.
At full noise, in the hands of a professional driver, it’s an experience one is not likely to forget in a hurry.
As a matter of fact, I recorded the event and it will live for evermore as my ring tone.
The most telling exercise of the day was one where we drove around and around in a tight circle on a wet and slippery section of track.
Two Audi TTs were provided for the exercise, one fitted with P Zeros, the other with a competitor’s tyre.
At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, they were like chalk and cheese — the P Zero had appreciably more grip.
We were able to drive a number of different cars on the day, not all of them fitted with Pirellis.
They included Audi’s S8, Porsche Carrera (Cayman and Boxster too) plus Benz’s S 65 AMG, CLS 63 AMG and CLK 63 AMG — to name a few.
Although by no means the most powerful, the Porsche Boxster (naturally aspirated, not the turbo) shone on the track, with its balance, sharp handling and responsive six pack.
One of the car wranglers shared my opinion, who I chatted to, confirmed my assessment.
Pirelli was marking the launch of its latest P Zero high performance tyre which debuted in 1987 with the Ferrari F40.
In celebration it even made a short film, called Mission Zero, directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Uma Thurman.
It’s a kind of a car chase minus the rest of the movie, featuring a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder — finished in Kill Bill Yellow, of course!
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