Ferrari returning to top level sports car racing with 499P

    Ferrari has unveiled the 499P Le Mans Hypercar prototype, it’s challenger for the 2023 World Endurance Championship.

    Published On Oct 31, 2022 01:40:00 PM

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    Ferrari is all set to return to the pinnacle of endurance racing after 50 years. The Italian manufacturer has unveiled the 499P Le Mans Hypercar with which it will bid for overall victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year.

    Two 499Ps will be entered by the factory Ferrari AF Corse team in the 2023 World Endurance Championship, which includes Le Mans. The model will make its racing debut at the 1000 Miles of Sebring in Florida on March 17.

    • Livery a nod to the 1973 Ferrari 312P racer
    • Built as per Le Mans Hypercar regulations
    • Racing debut at 1000 Miles of Sebring in March 2023

    Ferrari 499P design

    The prototype features a clear nod to Ferrari’s endurance racing past as well as a styling connection to its current road cars.

    The name follows Ferrari tradition from past Le Mans contenders, 499 referring to the displacement of its V6 twin-turbocharged engine, with P standing for Prototype – an echo of its last factory endurance racer, the 312P of 1973. The yellow stripe incorporated in the livery is also a nod to the iconic sports racer.

    Ferrari has built the car to Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) regulations, rather than the parallel LMDh rulebook chosen by the likes of Porsche, to ensure the 499P is a true in-house Ferrari. 

    The more economically friendly and simple LMDh formula relies on a spec hybrid system supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering and Bosch. But Ferrari’s bespoke 900V, 200kW Energy Recovery System (ERS), connected to the front axle, has been developed from learnings within the company’s F1 team. Balance of Performance will be used to limit overall power to 680hp though, across both classes.

    “We chose LMH because it is important for Ferrari to make the car and all the parts,” said endurance racing chief Antonello Coletta.

    “Ferrari is a constructor, the manufacturer of the car, and for us it is not our philosophy to buy a part. We decided to come back into prototypes when the rules gave us the chance to make all the car. This car is a manifesto of the technologies of Ferrari.”

    Ferrari 499P: Connection to the 296 GTB

    The six-cylinder engine, a load-bearing element in the 499P, is based on the architecture of the unit in the 296 GT3 – the racing evolution of the 296 GTB.

    “Of course, each part is developed and is completely different to the engine of the street car,” said Coletta. “But this is the base of our philosophy: all the experience of our six cylinder road cars has been the base of this engine. 

    “This is important for us. We have come back into prototypes, into the maximum category, but we have not forgotten that it is a laboratory for the street cars. This link is very important for us.”

    A brake-by-wire braking system has been developed to allow the recovery of kinetic energy from the front axle to the ERS. Power will be fed through a seven-speed sequential gearbox.

    Ferrari hasn’t announced its driver line-up, although Coletta reiterated the team will be formed by those already part of its GT racing family.

    New manufacturers to race at Le Mans

    Ferrari’s return to the premier division of sports car racing coincides with a boom in manufacturer interest in Le Mans and in the endurance scene. In 2023, the Prancing Horse will face the well-established Toyota Gazoo Racing squad and the radical Peugeot 9X8, plus new LMDh challengers from Porsche and Cadillac.

    The American-owned Glickenhaus team might also return with its 007 LMH contender, although its continued participation in the WEC has yet to be confirmed. Meanwhile, more LMDh contenders from the likes of Alpine, BMW and Lamborghini are on their way to Le Mans for 2024.

    Coletta played down expectations of a 10th Le Mans win for Ferrari first time out in 2023, while admitting the team had to be targeting ultimate success for what will be the 100th anniversary edition of the French classic.

    “We are ambitious of course, but we are also humble to know our competitors are more experienced than us with these cars,” he said. “We have less time than our competitors because we started testing in July 2022. The time for testing is not a lot, but we go ahead very fast and we hope to be ready for Sebring which is a special circuit and is not easy.”

    Also see:

    BMW confirms 2024 Le Mans return

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