The countdown is almost over. After half a century of sitting on the sidelines, Ferrari in March will finally make its return to top-level endurance racing.
Ferrari will return with the 499P LMH race car, which is eligible for both the Hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the GTP class of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. Ferrari thus far has only committed to the WEC, whose highlight is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, though the 499P could still appear at select SportsCar Championship rounds should Ferrari choose.
The 499P's first official event is a Prologue meet running at Florida's Sebring International Raceway from March 11-12. The first race on the 2023 WEC calendar, the 1000 Miles of Sebring, will follow at the same track on March 17.
Ferrari will field two 499P race cars, with Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, and Nicklas Nielsen in car number 50 and Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, and Antonio Giovinazzi in a number 51 car.
Driver lineup for Ferrari 499P LMH in the 2023 World Endurance Championship
Ferrari isn't going it alone. It has partnered with AF Corse for the LMH campaign, and the new team will be known as Ferrari-AF Corse. AF Corse has competed in the WEC's GT classes for many years, using Ferrari's production-based GT race cars.
The 499P has been developed from the ground up under LMH rules. It is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 derived from the one in the Ferrari 296 GTB supercar. The 499P pairs the engine with an electric motor driving the front axle. The 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.
Ferrari last competed in top-level endurance racing in 1973, pulling out after that year to focus on Formula 1. Its last title was in the 1972 World Sportscar Championship, a season that it dominated with its 312PB race car.