Home Gear box Good News, Humans! A pro pilot can beat launch control over the quarter mile

Good News, Humans! A pro pilot can beat launch control over the quarter mile


The driving experience is increasingly digitized as computers with lightning-fast reflexes increasingly control a car. However, YouTube’s Driven Media investigated whether humans still have a role to play inside the car.

To do this, the channel took a Ferrari 488 Pista and performed a few launches to test the reaction times of a human against those of a computer. The car is powered by a 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine developing 710 hp (529 kW/720 hp) and 568 lb-ft (770 Nm) of torque.

With all that power sent from the mid-engine to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, a Ferrari driver gets a few mechanical advantages to offset the huge amount of tire-spinning power. Launch control seeks to give drivers one more.

Also read: How much lead does a normal car need to beat a Ferrari 488 Pista?

As pro rider Scott Mansell says, launch control can precisely measure as much torque as the rear wheels can handle before they break traction. Using sensors and equations, the car can do this in milliseconds, completely bypassing the need for a human to sense a loss of grip, process it, and then react to it with their foot.

Sounds great, but how does it work in practice? Well, on this stretch of tarmac on the day Driven Media shot this video, that equates to a best possible quarter-mile time of 11.15 seconds. Without launch control, however, the driver is surprisingly able to complete the quarter mile in just 11.18 seconds on his first attempt.

” It is surprising. I think I can beat him! I actually think I can beat him because I had too much wheel spin at that point,” Mansell said. “I honestly thought launch control was going to absolutely dominate my feel.”

With a bit of effort, he manages to get a quarter-mile time of 10.99 seconds, effectively beating launch control. Now it may have been helped a bit by warmer tires, improved conditions and a lower fuel load, but, at the very least, the test proves that launch control isn’t a code cheat that will absolutely destroy humans every time. And that’s a little reassuring.