WEC: The Ferrari 499P Debuts at the 1000 Miles of Sebring
The countdown is over, and half a century of waiting is coming to an end. Ferrari is returning to the top class of the FIA World Endurance Championship, after fifty years since its last appearance at the stage for the most prestigious of endurance races. The historic occasion is set for Friday, 17 March when the Ferrari 499P will make its debut at the 1000 Miles of Sebring, the opening event of the 2023 WEC.
The two Le Mans Hypercars from the Prancing Horse have been entrusted to crews made up of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen, who will share the cockpit of the prototype with the number 50 on its livery, and of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi, in number 51. The six drivers will take on one of the most challenging races on a technical level and in terms of reliability, due to a particular road surface that combines asphalt and cement and that the fans well know for its bumps and changes.
The event in Florida will open with the Prologue, on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 March, and will continue the following weekend: Wednesday 15 with two free practice sessions from 10.55 a.m. and 4.35 p.m. respectively, Thursday 14 with a free practice session from 11.55 a.m. and from 7.20 p.m. and qualifying that will decide the starting grid for the 1000 Miles (8 Hours), kicking off on Friday 17 from 12 noon (all times are local).
THE HISTORY – A WINNING TRADITION
A byword for endurance racing in America, the Sebring International Raceway was inaugurated in 1950, the same year that the first six-hour endurance race was held. Ferrari earned 12 overall wins and 37 class wins on the challenging asphalt of the circuit that covers 6.020 km with 17 turns. The first win dates to 1956 and came courtesy of the 860 Monza driven by Juan Manuel Fangio and Eugenio Castellotti, whereas the most recent one was in 2016 when Christina Nielsen, Jeff Segal and Alessandro Balzan prevailed in the class reserved for production-derived cars in the 488 GT3.
TECH INSIGHT – THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE 499P
Developing a car representing state-of-the-art technology as applied to racing involves various stages, from the first sketches to the virtual prototype, simulator and testing on the track. It’s a journey made up of ideas shared, technical tests and trials, as Giuliano Salvi, Ferrari GT & Sports Race Cars Race & Testing Manager, explains. “From the Shakedown on 6 July 2022 to the final tests before the debut, we completed over 24 thousand kilometers with the 499P. From the simulator to the track, we employed a new working methodology to achieve a fast, reliable Hypercar.”
DRIVER PROFILE – JAMES CALADO
James Calado, three-time world champion in the LMGTE Pro, is ready for his Hypercar-class debut at the wheel of the number 51 499P shared with Pier Guidi and Giovinazzi. The British driver was born in 1989 and his passion for racing goes back to his childhood: “My father loved race cars and bikes. The first race I saw in person together with him was the 1999 Formula 1 GP in Silverstone: I remember as if it were yesterday.” Calado has picked up 12 WEC wins, some in the wet, in the course of his career. “I always raced with slicks on go karts, even when it was raining: I quickly learned to adapt that way.”
FACTS & FIGURES
1950: inaugural year of the Sebring International Raceway
6.020: length of the circuit (in kilometers)
12: overall Ferrari wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring (1956, 1958–59, 1961–64, 1970, 1972, 1995, 1997–1998)
1972: the last Ferrari world champion title in the top class of the World Sportscar Championship
1973: last time Ferrari competed in the top class
2022: Ferrari wins the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ world championship titles in the LMGTE Pro class of the WEC
24,000: kilometers covered in 499P testing
499: the cylinder capacity of the Ferrari Hypercar’s V6 engine