DUBAI // Tyre-blistering acceleration that will get you to 100 kilometres an hour in just 3.4 seconds is one of many selling points of the Ferrari 458 Spider, the convertible two-seater high-performance sports car involved in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers crash.
“Spectacularly wonderful to drive,” claims the Ferrari website – but a 570 horsepower engine in the hands of someone inexperienced at driving such a powerful car can be lethal.
Tani Hanna, president of the Ferrari Owners Club UAE and a professional racing driver, said high-performance sports cars can be difficult to handle but are safe if driven responsibly. He has been involved in three high-speed crashes racing Ferraris, and walked away unscathed each time.
“This car is probably one of the safest to drive on Earth,” said Mr Hanna, 52, from Lebanon.
“It has one of the most sophisticated electronics systems on a car of its kind. If you respect the power, you can’t go wrong.
“Maybe the guy did not know much about the car, or had it set in the wrong driving position. If there were more than two people in the car, the cockpit would be cramped, so the seatbelts would not have been in the right position.
“The driver could not have had enough space to manoeuvre correctly, or he was probably caught by surprise. It could have been the result of a lack of experience.
“If you lose the tail of the car, hit a rock or a kerb, then the car will fly at high speed.”
Specifications for the 458 include a top speed of 320kph.
“It terms of safety, Ferrari would never put a car on the road that wasn’t safe to drive,” Mr Hanna said. “I have raced cars with the same chassis as the 458 Spider, and had three high-speed accidents on different race tracks and not been hurt. I walked away unharmed.”
High-performance cars often have various modes in which they can be driven. If computer assisted, the car is easier to drive. Without it, performance is more reliant on driver skill.
“When I first put a car like this into race mode, it was scary,” said Mr Hanna, who began racing Ferraris in 2005.
“Now I drive with full confidence but it took me five or six years to get there. I always tell people to take it easy.
“If you are foolish and treat it like any other car and drive at full throttle, the response is very different. If you are not experienced enough to counter steer and correct, things go wrong.”
› A video of former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso driving a 458 Spider illustrating the speed and handling of the supercar: