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WEC Bahrain

Calado: Ferrari "scratching its head" over Bahrain WEC pace

Ferrari is “scratching its head” over its lack of pace so far over the Bahrain World Endurance Championship weekend, according to James Calado.

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

The winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours with Antonio Giovinazzi and Alessandro Pier Guidi has conceded that the Italian manufacturer’s 499P Le Mans Hypercar is lacking pace in all areas after neither of the two AF Corse-run cars were on the pace in the opening two sessions of free practice.

“Really bad, no pace at all,” said Calado ahead of the final session of free practice on Friday ahead of the Bahrain 8 Hours. 

“We’re scratching our heads a little bit: the car actually feels quite nice to drive, it seems normal, but it’s just that we are two or three seconds off.”

“We can only really compare to the last race [at Fuji in September], and we are off in every area pretty much.”

Ferrari sportscar technical director Ferdinando Cannizzo was more diplomatic than Calado but admitted that the Italian manufacturer is facing “a very big challenge” to turn its Bahrain weekend around.  

The best of the Ferraris was more than three seconds off the pace of the Toyotas at the top of the timesheets in Free Practice 2, the more representative of the two sessions on Thursday. 

The two cars filled out 10th and 11th positions in the Hypercar field ahead of only the Vanwall Vandervell 680.

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Both Calado and Cannizzo explained that the lack of pace so far hasn’t been entirely unexpected in the wake of a pre-event private test with the 499P in October. 

“The reality is that after the test we came here realising that it was going to be difficult,” said Calado, who retains an outside chance of taking the WEC Hypercar title with Giovinazzi and Pier Guidi in the championship finale on Saturday. 

“It was about 10C hotter, so we’d hoped that the cooler temperatures would help, but the reality is that it is the same as the test.”

Cannizzo suggested that there was hope for the race because the 499P appeared to be looking after its tyres on the harsh Bahrain International Circuit surface.

“I have to say on tyre management everything looks perfect: warm-up is brilliant, degradation is more than good, I think we are the best of the field on degradation,” he said. 

“Yesterday we were really happy in FP2, the session from which we had the most data.”

He explained that most of the deficit faced by Ferrari is the result of poor traction and straight line speed. 

“Grip-wise we are not too bad; track and [top] speed is where we are lacking the most,” he said. 

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

“Here there are three main [long] straights, which makes it very difficult for us to fight.”

Cannizzo also hinted at the effect of the Balance of Performance on the 499Ps at Bahrain, saying “there is something we cannot talk about”. 

Manufacturers, teams and drivers are forbidden by regulation from talking about the BoP. 

After changes to the BoP following Le Mans, Ferrari has been unable to challenge the Toyotas, though its cars have remained firmly in the top six.

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Cannizzo conceded that the 499P was already close to its potential around the Bahrain circuit while stressing that he and Ferrari were in no way giving up. 

“Despite the fact that the mission seems to be impossible. we will be trying to find anything — on set-up, on strategy, on everything — that will put us in the conditions to fight, at least for the podium.”

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