Scuderia’s hypercar unveiled

It’s a key…and moving moment in the renaissance of endurance. On the occasion of its Finali Mondiali, taking place this weekend on the Imola circuit (Italy), the Scuderia has lifted the veil on the Ferrari 499P, responding to the new Le Mans Hypercar category. It will be the first car officially entered by the transalpine brand in the premier category of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) since 1973.

« The development of this car was a real race of endurance, » said Antonello Coletta, Ferrari program manager, with a lump in his throat. « This is a long-term commitment to this competition. »

Technical freedom

Unlike Porsche or Cadillac, Ferrari opted (like Peugeot or Toyota) for the regulatory Le Mans Hypercar route. This leaves a lot of technical freedom to the designers while limiting the aerodynamics and the power of the machine. The car was designed in Maranello by a technical team coming from the GT and distinct from Formula 1. Today it has about thirty people, led by Ferdinando Cannizzoformer single-seater aerodynamicist and father of the current 488 GTE.

We have had the opportunity to approach the 499P in a garage on the Imola circuit. It impresses with its very fluid lines and the remarkable aerodynamic treatment of the rear part, with a prominent shark fin, a large extractor and side fins worthy of the world of aviation. The exhausts find their place on the sides of the engine cover.

Flavio Manzoni’s design center worked with the designers of the Hypercar to underline the car’s Ferrari identity. The obviously red livery adopts a wide yellow band, in reference to the 312 PB tray from the early seventies and a racing number on a white background on the bow. Vintage nods don’t stop at aesthetics. The 499P designation also draws on the grammar of the brand. In the pure Ferrari tradition, the « 499 » represents the unit displacement and the P (for prototype) evokes the glorious 330 P3, 330 P4 and 312 P of the 1960s.

Data sheet… modern

On the technical side, on the other hand, it is modern. The chassis is obviously of the carbon fiber monocoque type. The exact odds remain secret. The engine takes up the architecture of the standard Ferrari 296 GTB (V6, 3-litre, direct injection, 120° open angle), but many elements have been modified, starting with the turbocharger. The power is capped by the regulations at 500 kW (680 hp), even if the balance of performance, responsible for balancing the level of Hypercars, can authorize a few additional horses depending on the layout.

This block works in symbiosis with a hybrid system recovering and redistributing energy to the front wheels (200 kW maximum). The battery is located below the gas tank, just behind the rider’s buttocks. Like the Toyota GR010, the 499P is alternately rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive depending on the circumstances, conditions and grip. The management program for the additional electric motor has benefited from the expert advice of the “neighbors” of Formula 1, who are already well briefed on the use of hybrid systems.

If Ferrari officials did not want to expand on the list of suppliers, we learned that some external providers were employed to build this puzzle. For instance, the 7-speed gearbox is supplied by British specialist Xtrac.

“We have worked a lot on the damping and the aerodynamic package so that the car has a wide spectrum of performance depending on the circumstances and the conditions” details Ferdinando Cannizzothe technical boss of the project.

Asked by Auto Moto about the progress of the 499P, the engineer assures us that the model in the photo above is « 90% » the one we will see in the race next year. The final homologation – concerning in particular the aerodynamic kit – will take place before the end of December.

On race weekends, the machine will be operated by the Italian team AF Corse. Based in Piacenza (Italy) – 120 kilometers from Maranello – it has benefited from the support of the factory for more than ten years. To train its mechanics in « prototypes », the team entered an Oreca 07 chassis this season in the LMP2 category in the world championship.

Radio silence on the pilot side

On the occasion of the Finali Mondiali, Maranello did not wish to reveal the identity of the drivers entered in its two official cars next year. Since its first laps on the private circuit of Fiorano (Italy) at the start of the summer, the development of the 499P has been carried out by the members of the AF Corse team, which has hitherto been involved in GTE Pro. Starting with the outgoing world champions in this class, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado.

This year the young (and fast) Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera have also been sent to LMP2 on an exploratory basis, in order to discover these machines which are much faster than the GTs. If Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. will not be part of the adventure immediately, other names from Formula 1 could be added to the Italian squad in the coming weeks.

12,000 kilometers on the odometer

The craft has already racked up more than 12,000 kilometers of testing at Fiorano, Barcelona, ​​Mugello, Imola and Monza, but has yet to perform according to our 24-hour full simulation information. Making its debut two months ahead of the Ferrari at the upcoming 24 Hours of Daytona, the Porsche 963 has already wrapped up nearly 25,000 kilometers.

The two Ferrari chassis already assembled were being perfected at Monza earlier this week. Individuals present on the spot recorded chronos with their telephones located around 1:33 – 1:34. This year, the pole position of the 6 Hours of Monza was achieved by Romain Dumas at the wheel of the Glickenhaus 007 LMH in 1:35.416.

Obviously, this comparison should be handled with great caution, given that the driving conditions were distinct and that the 499P has not yet passed under the caudine forks of the performance scale, tasked with equalizing the level of the various Hypercars.

Debuts in March

Two Ferrari 499Ps will make their racing debut at the 1000 miles of Sebring (United States) next March, before taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 10 and 11, 2023, on the occasion of the centenary of the classic. They will wear the numbers 50 and 51. In the Sarthe, they will face in particular the Toyota GR010 – winner for the past two years – the spectacular Peugeot 9X8 or the new Porsche 963.

Will Ferrari aim for victory at the next edition of the 24 hours?  » We approach this program with great modesty, explains to Auto Moto the technical director, Ferdinando Cannizzo. We will already be very satisfied to have the two cars at the finish at the 24 hours next June. But… you know us… (smile, editor’s note.)”

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