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Editor: Jaap Horst

Volume 29 (2024), Issue 2

Bugatti Bolide: Highest safety standards and Redefining performance

Two articles on the latest product from Molsheim. Though not with the 0.67 weight to power ratio as originally promised, but still their most impressive product so far.

Go directly to any of the two articles:


Along with incredible power, precision and performance, a track-only hyper sports car must possess exceptional levels of safety, which is why the Bugatti Bolide features an innovative new carbon fiber monocoque developed to the same demanding Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile LMH and LMDh requirements as Le Mans race cars.

Motorsport success and innovation have been inseparably linked with Bugatti for more than 100 years, ever since the 8-cylinder Type 13 claimed the iconic marque’s first victory at the Grand Prix de la Sarthe in 1920. The unmatched Type 35, which took to the track four years later, cemented Bugatti’s reputation for making beautiful and successful racing cars, claiming more than 2,000 victories and podium finishes during its long and distinguished competition career.

This unrivalled motorsport heritage combined with state-of-the-art technology and outright engineering excellence has driven the Bolide1 to embody Bugatti’s vision for the ultimate track-only hyper sports car. To be able to design the Bolide to fit as closely as possible around the brand’s legendary 8.0-liter W16 turbocharged engine, it was necessary to develop an advanced new monocoque made of the highest quality carbon fiber composites, which are normally only used in Formula 1 and Le Mans race cars.

The Bolide’s new monocoque mirrors the proportions of a sleek catamaran, meaning that the driver and passenger sit perfectly balanced inside the car. This arrangement also enables the peerless W16 powertrain to be positioned 60mm further forward than in the Chiron2, ensuring an ideal packaging for track use. As a result, the engine benefits from a new arrangement that allows it to be optimally integrated within the monocoque. The Bolide’s incredible performance necessitated a monocoque even stronger and stiffer than the Chiron’s. Safety requirements from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) for LMH and LMDh regulations for Le Mans race cars drove development of the new structure and were chosen because they are among the most stringent safety regulations in the world of motorsport. Moreover, crash test requirements for track-only racing cars are unique, furthering the need for a clean-sheet design devoid of any compromise.

For a hyper sports car inspired by motorsport greatness – a defining element to the characteristic of the Bolide – safety factors such as rollover protection are paramount, and one of the most demanding FIA tests requires a 7.5-ton load applied to the car’s A-pillar. To pass the test, the maximum deflection must be no more than 50mm at the point where the load is applied, and no failure of the structure within 100mm of that point is permitted. This means that small, localized cracks, are permissible at the point of impact. However, when the Bolide was tested, there were no cracks at all, thanks to the structural integrity inherent within the monocoque design, and especially in the angle of the A-pillar, its cross section and the high-tech materials used. A second rollover test saw an even higher load – 12-tons – applied to the B-pillar, while a third involved a 6-ton longitudinal load applied to the monocoque to simulate a rollover resulting in a rear impact with a barrier.

Christian Willmann, Bugatti Chief Engineer for the Bolide, says: “Since we made the decision to turn the Bolide vision into reality, we knew we were going to be uncompromisingly focused on several important design and development areas, but that focus was especially honed in high-performance and safety on-track attributes. For Bugatti, these characteristics are non-negotiable.

“To pass these stringent but critical safety tests, we needed to ensure that everything about the monocoque was technically perfect so that on the track the Bolide is a race car that is safe and secure in every driving situation and environment. This meant that the monocoque required optimization across all facets, from its architecture through to the wall thicknesses and even the new super-high strength carbon material, which is the highest performing of its type in the world. This illustrates the extensive engineering we’ve carried out to ensure that the Bolide is uncompromising in its approach to safety, meeting the exacting standards demanded by FIA.”

But rollover is just one of the many rigorous test requirements that Bugatti met in the exhaustive development process for the Bolide, focusing on every part and every subsystem of the hyper sports car.

To ensure even higher levels of safety, Bolide is equipped with an automatic, military-grade fire extinguisher system that represents a major safety upgrade in every respect compared to extinguisher units widely used in conventional race cars. To enhance ingress and egress from the two-seat cockpit, the outer sections of the wraparound headrests are attached to the dihedral doors. Designed to GT3 regulations in-line with the car’s packaging requirements, they are joined to the door frame using an x-shaped bracket, which is a structural component as the headrest test load is applied to the outside of the door. Created by the Bugatti’s design and engineering teams, the bracket is made from 3D-printed aluminum, and although weighing a mere 300 grams, can withstand a load of more than 700 kg.

Inside the Bolide, the driver and co-driver are each secured with an FIA-approved six-point harness system. Aside from keeping the occupants firmly in place during the extreme forces generated during cornering, acceleration and braking – in some cases extending up to 2.5g – they deliver the highest possible levels of safety. The seats are also tested to LMH regulations, and occupants will benefit not only from their high levels of safety but also from the optimal comfort that has been engineered within the seats to deliver a fatigue-free driving experience. For even greater safety, the Bolide’s cockpit is compatible with the motorsport-proven ‘HANS® Head And Neck Support’ system.

The Bolide’s state-of-the-art passive safety features are perfectly complimented with motorsport-leading active safety technologies, including traction control, electronic stability control and an anti-lock braking system, ensuring the Bolide is always stable and ready to race no matter the weather conditions. A high-performance climate control system allows Bolide owners to race their Bugatti in sweltering conditions that would prove challenging or even impossible for many other racing cars.

When the first customers receive their cars in 2024, they will be able to experience for themselves the most impressive levels of traction and grip afforded by the combination of all-wheel drive with electronically controlled differentials, high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport slicks, and the incredible amount of downforce on offer.

As a result, the uncompromising nature of this extraordinary hyper sports car places it in a class of its own. Powered by the legendary W16 engine, the Bolide generates 1,600 PS at 7,000rpm and 1,600 Nm from 2,250rpm. With a dry weight of just 1,450 kg, and downforce of almost 3,000 kg at maximum speed, Bolide delivers a truly thrilling, dynamic and track-focused driving experience. Yet it is a unique experience that does not come at the expense of refinement: thanks to features such as climate control, power steering and the ergonomically designed seats, both driver and co-driver can enjoy lap after lap of their favorite circuit in comfort and safety.

Bolide owners will benefit from the car's outstanding levels of all-round drivability, not only from the torque output available throughout the W16’s track-optimized rev range, but also from the fact that the tires and the carbon brakes are designed to deliver exceptional performance continuously under all conditions on the track. The 60-litres of fluid pumped through the power steering system at every minute ensures that steering maneuvers always remain at the highest levels. Like every other aspect of the car, the Bugatti Bolide has been designed, developed and tested to deliver the highest levels of performance, safety and comfort to offer the pilot an incomparable and unforgettable experience.


The Bolide, a testament to engineering excellence, stands at the pinnacle of track-oriented performance. Born from Bugatti’s extensive automotive and motorsport lineage, the track-only hyper sports car exemplifies the spirit of the extreme and pushes the limits of what’s possible on the racetrack.

Designed with precision and purpose, the Bolide1 represents a departure from the norm, a shift towards a completely different realm of driving that Bugatti had not yet explored in its modern-day history. Not just focused on speed, each and every aspect is finely tuned for circuit dominance.

Yet, the Bolide isn’t just about blistering lap times, it is also about accessibility. Despite its extraordinary performance capabilities, the Bolide remains approachable – even for those without race experience. In the pursuit of perfection, Bugatti’s engineers have crafted a track-only hyper sports car that invites drivers to explore their limits.

To achieve this, Bugatti lent on state-of-the-art technology, its unrivalled motorsport heritage and direction from Bugatti Pilote Officiel and legendary Triple Crown winner, Andy Wallace. His input, garnered from years of racing at the highest levels as well as involvement with the Molsheim brand since 2011, proved invaluable to Bugatti’s engineering team as they refined the Bolide’s aerodynamics, drivetrain, and handling characteristics.

Bugatti Pilote Officiel, Andy Wallace, said: “Everything about the car is on a completely different level to what I have driven before. All cars are difficult to drive at their limit, but even at the limits of its capabilities, the Bugatti Bolide remains remarkably easy to drive. When you have a car with this much capability, and this much downforce, not many people would believe that is possible. Even I found myself in a state of disbelief after my initial stint driving the Bolide.”

Key to the Bolide’s behavior on track are several technologies deployed for the first time in a Bugatti vehicle as well as technologies that are usually not available in a track car, like ABS and ESP. Built as closely as possible around the brand’s legendary 1,600 PS 8.0-liter W16 turbocharged engine, the Bolide features an ultra-lightweight advanced monocoque of the highest quality carbon fiber composite. Developed in collaboration with Dallara, this innovative structure is designed to the same demanding Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) LMH and LMDh requirements as Le Mans race cars.

An entirely new seating position for Bugatti – one that is reclined into the rear of the car ensuring that the heels of the driver sit slightly raised and the passenger is optimally angled towards the nose of the Bolide – also mirrors design from some of the world’s most extreme race cars. This imparts unwavering confidence on the asphalt.

This confidence also fed into in part by the unique Brembo braking system in the Bolide. The result of two years of demanding evaluation, the carbon-carbon brakes offer stopping power that is on par with the technology that goes into both LMh/LMDh and Formula 1 machinery. Guaranteeing that the Bolide stands unrivalled on every part of the track.

Extensive simulation and testing on some of the world’s most revered racetracks allowed Bugatti to elevate the performance further, tuning the Bolide’s aerodynamic traits in a way that is usually only associated with top level motorsport. The resultant downforce it generates, in combination with all-wheel drive with electronically controlled differentials and high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport slick tires, means that the Bolide delivers unmatched levels of traction and grip on the track.

The considerable effort put into the Bolide development program paid off. Boasting a top speed of 380km/h in low-downforce configuration, the Bugatti track-only hyper sports car demonstrates aptitude on the straights exceeding that of Formula 1, where the all-time speed record hit close to 373km/h. For Bolide, the only boundary is finding at straight long enough to reach 380km/h, with straights on FIA approved tracks unable to exceed 2 km in length, with only a handful exceptions worldwide. Despite the impressive top speed, elasticity is where the Bolide truly shines.

Wallace added: “The feeling when you come out of a corner, press the throttle, and experience that relentless surge of power is incomparable. You come out of that corner at 100km/h, and from there to 200km/h and then
300km/h is an absolute revelation. In that specific scenario, the Bolide would pull away from a Formula 1 car.”

However, given that track performance is not defined by top speed, engineering focus from Bugatti prioritized cornering, traction, and braking over outright top speed, ensuring it perfectly suited to circuit driving. The Bolide can navigate through corners with complete precision. Its advanced aerodynamics working to generate up to three tons of downforce, and its wide track and low center of gravity creating exceptional grip capabilities with lateral forces peaking at 2.5 G. In essence, the Bolide is a master in the art of the track.

As Bugatti’s most extreme creation to date, the Bolide represents a bold new approach to hyper sports car for the marque. All aspects of the car have been designed, developed, and tested to produce the greatest possible track performance whilst guaranteeing the pilot an incomparable experience. In true Bugatti fashion, the Bolide’s interior exudes quality. Air conditioning, power steering and ergonomically designed seats make sure that every lap is just as comfortable as it is memorable.

Emilio Scervo, CTO of Bugatti Rimac, commented: “Development of the Bolide was a fresh but familiar direction for the brand. It’s racing DNA not only demonstrates our unwavering commitment and capabilities in top tier automotive performance, but it also resonates deeply with our legacy in motorsport competition. The results of this project are evidence of our engineering prowess, craftsmanship and racing heritage – a result we are extremely proud of.”

With the test phase of the Bugatti Bolide officially concluded, the Molsheim team has now shifted focus to series production. Delivery of the first customer car is expected to take place in just a few months.

Thanks to Bugatti SAS

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