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Ferrari unveils 499P Le Mans Hypercar in full race livery
The new Ferrari Le Mans Hypercar that will take the Italian manufacturer back to the pinnacle of sportscar racing in next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship has been named the 499P.
The type number of the LMH hybrid prototype was revealed along with the livery in which it will race in the 2023 WEC, as well as the configuration of the car's internal combustion engine, on its official launch at Imola on Saturday evening.
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, while the 'P' stands for prototype.
The LMH's V6 has the same 120-degree architecture as the engine in the new 296 GT3 launched in July, but is an all-new design.
"It is not the same engine," said Ferdinando Cannizzo, head of design and development at Ferrari's Attivita Sportive GT sportscar racing department.
"It is the same architecture as the 296, but it is a stressed engine, which means the structure has to be totally different.
"Selecting the V6 was definitely the right path to follow considering the way our range of road cars is moving - it was natural to go that route.
"But it wasn't a compromise because a V6 is small, light and very compact: this gives an advantage in packaging, weight distribution and centre of gravity."
The colour scheme in which the 499P was unveiled at Ferrari's Finali Mondiali - the world finals for its one-make challenge series - tips its hat to the last prototype campaign mounted by the factory.
The predominantly red livery with yellow trimming is reminiscent of the lead Ferrari 312PB entered through the 1972 and '73 World Championship for Makes seasons for Jacky Ickx, Brian Redman and Arturo Merzario among others.
Photo by: Ferrari
Ferrari won the WCM, the forerunner of today's WEC, with the three-litre Group 5 car in the first of those years.
One of the two 499Ps to be run under the Ferrari AF Corse banner in 2023 will carry the race number #50 to mark the half century since the marque's withdrawal as a factory from front-line sportscar racing and its last bid for outright honours at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The second car will carry #51, a symbolic number for Ferrari in GT racing.
The four GTE Pro drivers' titles claimed by Ferrari since the rebirth of the WEC in 2012 have all been won by the #51 entry fielded by the AF Corse factory team.
Ferrari sportscar racing boss Antonello Coletta described the Ferrari 499P "as a tribute to our past and a manifesto for our future".
"The 499 confirms our commitment to endurance racing, which is part of our history and part of a tradition of using this kind of competition to test new technologies," he said.
The LMH rules have allowed the 499P to be given a look that makes it recognisably a Ferrari.
"When I see this car, it is clearly a Ferrari," said Cannizzo.
He explained that the twin rear wing set-up had "been quite interesting for Centro Stile [Ferrari's styling department] because they could play a little bit with our ideas".
Photo by: Ferrari
The lower element incorporates the rear lights in a single bar running the width of the wing.
No drivers have been announced for the LMH WEC programme, but Coletta reiterated Ferrari's intention to fill the six WEC LMH seats from its existing pool of GT drivers.
"The choice of drivers will be from the Ferrari family," he said. "We have very consistent drivers in the GT family; 100 percent the choice will be from inside our house."
Ferrari has so far completed more than 12,000km of testing on two 499P chassis.
Homologation of the car is expected to be completed by the end of this year ahead of the 499P's race debut in the opening round of next year's WEC, the Sebring 1000 Miles in March.
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