Big Boots to Fill

03 November 2022

Ferrari is returning to endurance sports car racing for the first time in 50 years.

They will be competing in the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, and they will be using the 499P, which is their new Le Mans Hypercar (LMH).

Le Mans is particularly significant to Ferrari; between 1949 and 1965, they scored nine outright wins.

The car will be painted with a red and yellow livery and adorning the number 50, reminding fans of their efforts in the 1973 series with the Ferrari 312 PB.

There are fond memories of the 312 PB for Mario Andretti, who raced with Jacky Ickx in 1971 and 1972, especially in 1971 when they finished second in a nine-hour race at Kyalami 1971 after losing lots of time. Andretti was in pole position and led for the first hour, but the fuel pump broke. By the time they got the car back to the pits and had it fixed, they were 23 laps down but still came back to finish second.

A very tough act to follow.

The 499P has a carbon-fibre composite body under which sits a hybrid drivetrain that combines a twin-turbo V6 engine based on the 296 GT3 unit that drives the rear wheels with a front-mounted electric motor.

The purpose-built battery draws on Ferrari’s experience with Formula 1’s hybrid power units. The deceleration and braking charge the electric drivetrain.

The 499P follows a naming tradition of Ferrari’s past sports cars, with a ‘P’ designation denoting it as a ‘prototype’. The 499P nomenclature follows a naming tradition that dates back to the earliest Ferraris: 499 is the capacity in cubic centimetres of one cylinder of the car’s three-litre V6 twin-turbo powerplant.

Historically, numbers in the model name refer to the engine size. There are some exceptions, namely, the F40 and F50. The number indicates the number of years since the founding of Ferrari.