The six-cylinder engine, a load-bearing element in the 499P, is based on the architecture of the unit in the 296 GT3, which was also on show at Imola as the racing evolution of the 296 GTB road car. “Of course, each part is developed and it 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’s return to the premier division of sports car racing coincides with a boom in manufacturer interest at Le Mans and in the endurance scene. In 2023 the Prancing Horse will face the well-established Toyota Gazoo Racing squad, which has won the previous five Le Mans, the radical Peugeot 9X8 which has already taken its bow in the WEC this season, 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.
John Elkann, Ferrari’s executive chairman, said: “The 499P sees us return to compete for outright victory in the WEC series. When we decided to commit to this project, we embarked on a path of innovation and development, faithful to our tradition that sees the track as the ideal terrain to push the boundaries of cutting-edge technological solutions, solutions that in time will be transferred to our road cars. 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.”
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.