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WEC Fuji

Ferrari's WEC deficit to Toyota no greater at Fuji than Monza

Ferrari has insisted that it was no further behind Toyota in the Fuji 6 Hours on Sunday than at the previous round of the World Endurance Championship at Monza.

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

It made the claim despite its two 499P Le Mans Hypercars trailing home in fourth and fifth positions, a lap down on the Toyota GR010 HYBRIDs that blocked out the top two positions.

“There is a status quo; this position is more of less the same from after the Le Mans 24 Hours,” said Giuliano Salvi, Ferrari’s race and test team manager.

“Our position compared with Toyota is more or less as expected.”

Salvi stressed that the close second place for the #50 Ferrari shared by Antonio Fuoco, Nicklas Nielsen and Miguel Molina at Monza in July offered an unrealistic picture of the relative performance of the 499P compared with the Toyota after the post Le Mans Balance of Performance change.

Asked if the gap had grown since Monza, Salvi replied: “No, in the end that wasn’t the case.”

He suggested that finishing a lap down “was our expectation” in a clean race without significant yellow-flag periods.

There were three full safety cars during the Monza 6 Hours, but only one quick-fire safety car and one Full Course Yellow in Japan last weekend.

That explained why the #50 car finished only 16s behind the winning Toyota on Ferrari’s home ground at Monza.

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

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

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The only surprise for Ferrari at Fuji, Salvi insisted, was the pace of the Porsche 963 LMDh that finished third in the hands of Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Andre Lotterer.

“What was unexpected was how quick Porsche was,” Salvi said after the race. “It was quite surprising; we were the third team here.”

Salvi admitted that the Ferrari Hypercar team run by AF Corse took a cautious approach on tyre strategy at Fuji, though he stressed that he believed it had made the right choices.

The two 499Ps started on the hard compound Michelin slick and only for the final stint on the #50 car did it move full over to the medium.

Porsche ran throughout the race on mediums, while Toyota started with hard tyres on the left-hand side of the car and mediums on the right.

It swapped the #8 to mediums on the left at the first pitstop, after which both cars ran mediums all round to the finish.

“We have never been here before, we didn’t know the track, so our approach to the tyres was on the conservative side,” he explained.

“We started like that because we didn’t have a lot of good practice sessions [because they were interrupted by rain] to experience double stints.”

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