Ferrari is set to make its return to top-level endurance racing after half a century with the new 499P LMH race car, and on Tuesday the automaker named the six-man squad that will handle driving duties.
Ferrari will enter two 499Ps in the premier Hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship starting in the upcoming 2023 season. The move also means a return to top-level racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the company, as the French classic is the highlight of the World Endurance Championship calendar.
Drivers Alessandro Pier Guidi, Antonio Giovinazzi, and James Calado will pilot the 499P bearing racing no. 51, while drivers Antonio Fuoco, Nicklas Nielsen, and Miguel Molina will pilot the no. 50 car.
Guidi and Calado are both multiple World Endurance Championship title holders in the GTE Pro class, the top class for production-based cars, while Giovinazzi was a driver at the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team from 2019-2021. In his new role at Ferrari, he will also serve as a reserve driver for the automaker’s F1 team.
The 499P they will pilot made its world debut last October. The car features a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 derived from the one in the 296 GTB road car, which in this application is paired with an electric motor driving the front axle. The V-6 engine drives the rear axle, thus giving the 499P all-wheel drive. The “499” in the name is a reference to the size of each cylinder, as measured in cubic centimeters, while the “P” signifies the car as the latest in the line of Ferrari sports prototype racers.
In line with LMH regulations, the two power units of the 499P can deliver a maximum of 670 hp at any one time. The regulations also mandate a minimum weight of 2,270 pounds for the car.
The 499P is also eligible for the new GTP class launching this year as the new premier class of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, though Ferrari hasn’t said whether it plans to enter the series. There’s still the possibility the 499P could appear at select SportsCar Championship rounds, however.
Ferrari isn’t running its World Endurance Championship campaign alone. The automaker’s Competizioni GT sports car racing division has partnered 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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