Ferrari has revealed its new 499P LMH race car set for top-level competition from 2023 in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The debut took place on Saturday at Italy’s Imola circuit, during Ferrari’s annual Finali Mondiali event celebrating the end of the motorsport season.
The car’s name evokes the sports prototypes that Ferrari raced in the 1960s and 1970s, such as the 250 P and later 330 P, cars that were winners of races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona, and Six Hours of Nürburgring. It’s a fitting name, as the 499P will see Ferrari return to top level of endurance racing after half a century, when the automaker last competed with the 312 PB. The significance is not lost on Ferrari’s current management.
“We enter this challenge with humility, but conscious of a history that has taken us to over 20 world endurance titles and nine overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” John Elkann, Ferrari’s chairman, said in a statement.
The 499P is built to meet LMH regulations, meaning it is eligible for both the existing Hypercar class of the World Endurance Championship and the new GTP class launching next year as the top class of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. Ferrari thus far has only announced a commitment to the World Endurance Championship, whose highlight is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, though the 499P could still appear at select SportsCar Championship rounds, such as the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Next year will also be the first in which LMH cars also compete against cars developed to meet the separate LMDh regulations. LMDh cars are also eligible for both the Hypercar and GTP classes, with balance of performance to be used to ensure a level playing field.
Unlike the LMDh cars which use control chassis sourced from suppliers, LMH cars are based on bespoke chassis. The 499P features a newly developed carbon-fiber monocoque with double wishbone, pushrod-type suspension at both ends.
Power comes from a twin-turbo V-6 that’s mounted in a mid-engine position and serves as a load-bearing structure. The engine is derived from the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 in the Ferrari 296 GTB road car, and works together with a front axle electric motor that’s connected to a differential, forming an all-wheel-drive system. Together the two power units can deliver a maximum of 670 hp at any one time. The regulations also mandate a minimum weight of 2,270 lb for the car.
The electric motor is powered by a 900-volt battery developed using knowledge from Ferrari’s Formula 1 program. The battery relies on energy recovered while braking, which it then delivers to the electric motor to provide the car with a power boost.
Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Porsche and Alpine have committed to LMDh, while ByKolles, Glickenhaus, Peugeot, Toyota, and Ferrari, have committed to LMH. Audi had agreed to join LMDh in 2023 but announced in August it had canceled those plans to focus on a planned F1 2026 deal. Lamborghini will join the LMDh race in 2024.
Ferrari isn’t running its campaign alone. The automaker’s Competizioni GT sports car racing division has partnered up with AF Corse for the campaign, forming the new team Ferrari – AF Corse. AF Corse is an independent Italian racing team founded by former racing driver Amato Ferrari (no relation to Enzo Ferrari or his son, Piero) in 1995. It’s worked closely with Ferrari since 2006, and in recent years has represented Ferrari in GT competition, most notably in the GTE class of the World Endurance Championship.
Following a Prologue event at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway on March 11-12, the first round of the 2023 World Endurance Championship will kick off on March 17 with the 1000 Miles of Sebring.
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