The 499P is the name of the new Le Mans hypercar Ferrari will compete in the FIA WEC World Endurance Championship in the elite class from 2023. The name recalls the history of the horse manufacturer. In the past, prototypes were identified by the letter “P”, often preceded by the engine displacement number. 499P is no exception. The car is the result of a vision proudly rooted in the past that gave birth to the legend it is today, enabling the company to claim 22 world titles and 9 overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, it is firmly focused on the future, both in terms of technical and design content, which has a prototype. The livery with which the 499P will debut at the upcoming 1000 Miles of Sebring includes a refreshed version of the famous 312 P color scheme from the 1970s, which also visually emphasizes the historical links that were severed 50 years ago but remain ever-present. at the core of the brand. For this reason, one of the endurance cars competing in Maranello will be decorated with the number 50, while the other will have the number 51, one of the most successful in history. The official line-up of those who will be racing the 499P will be the subject of future announcements.
Le Mans Hypercar: The DNA of Victory
The new FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and ACO (Automobile Club Occidental) technical regulations laid down for the Hypercar class have forced Ferrari to embark on a path of innovation and development to produce the Hypercar Le Mans (LMH), true to its tradition of seeing the track as the ideal terrain for development of advanced technological solutions for integration into its road vehicles. The 499P is a manifesto of Ferrari’s commitment to endurance racing.
The all-wheel drive prototype meets the technical regulations and requirements of the Le Mans hypercar class with hybrid engines, delivering a maximum power of 500 kW per wheel and a minimum weight of at least 1,030 kg. In defining the 499P, the company relied on the vast technical, professional and human resources that embody the Maranello brand, entrusting the management of the Attività Sportive GT under the direction of Antonello Coletta and the technical supervision of Ferdinand Kanitz, head of the department responsible for the design and development of sports and GT racing cars.
New hybrid power
The 499P hybrid powertrain combines a mid-rear power unit with an electric motor that drives the front axle. The internal combustion engine (ICE) has a maximum regulation-limited power to the wheels of 500 kW (680 hp) and comes from the road-going twin-turbo V6 family. The engine, which shares the architecture of the engine installed in the 296 GT3, has undergone a thorough reworking by Ferrari engineers aimed both at developing special solutions for the prototype and at lightening the overall weight. Among the specific characteristics of the V6 499P is the fact that the engine is undercarriage and therefore performs an important structural function compared to the versions fitted to competing GT cars, where the engine is mounted on the rear sub-chassis of the vehicle. The second “soul” of the hybrid transmission is the ERS energy recovery system with a maximum output of 200 kW (272 hp). The electric motor is equipped with a differential and is powered by a battery that charges during deceleration and braking, requiring no external power source. The battery with a nominal voltage of 900 V benefits from the experience gained in Formula 1, although it was specially created for this project. The total maximum output of the 499P is 500 kW (680 hp) and the transmission is mated to a seven-speed sequential gearbox.
The wind is developed
The design of the new Ferrari 499P was finalized with the support of the Ferrari Styling Center under the direction of Flavio Manzoni. The car’s technical and aerodynamic features have been enhanced with simple, sinuous shapes: – a clear expression of Ferrari’s DNA. The balance between tense lines and smooth surfaces, expressed in a futuristic, clean and iconic language, defines a clear but essential architecture. The body of the prototype is molded from a flat surface, from which the side edges and wheel arches develop harmoniously. Aerodynamic flows pass through the side capsules above the recesses between the main protrusions that surround the cabin, cooling the radiators hidden under the body. On the Ferrari 499P, the surface of the wheel arches, a distinctive feature of Ferrari, is characterized by large louvres aimed at reducing the pressure inside the wheel threads. Together with the headlamp clusters, they give the nose a sense of character and definition, with subtle references to the styling cues first introduced on the Ferrari Daytona SP3.
The rear is the best expression of how technology, aerodynamics and design come together. A thin carbon fiber skin covers the various features, leaving the wheels and suspension fully visible. The tail is characterized by a double horizontal wing; the main wing and upper flaps have been carefully designed to guarantee the necessary downforce and achieve maximum performance.
The lower wing also features a “light strip” that enriches the rear of the design with a bold yet minimalist touch. Finally, in a dominant position above the car are several air intakes that feed the air intake of the V6 engine and cooling air to the battery and transmission.
Built on an all-new monocoque carbon fiber chassis, the Ferrari 499P features solutions that represent the cutting edge of motorsport technology. The double wishbone and wishbone suspension geometry provides excellent damping stiffness, the benefits of which are evident both at top speed and cornering. The electronics systems are developed from the experience gained in the world of GT racing and improved upon.
Equally complex is the braking system, which integrates a brake-by-wire system necessary to restore the kinetic energy of the front electric axle when braking. The system has been designed to combine precision and responsiveness with reliability and durability, additional aspects that are one of the keys to success in endurance racing. The electric front axle uses the energy recovered during braking, storing it in a high-voltage battery before sending torque to the front wheels at a certain speed, helping to boost performance at the tracks on the 2023 calendar.
Partnership with AF Corse
The Ferrari 499P will be driven on track by technicians and engineers from Maranello in collaboration with AF Corse. The partnership continues a winning streak that began in 2006 FIA GT with the F430 GT2, which secured the team, driver and constructor titles in its debut season. The vast majority of GT’s successes in recent years have come from the partnership between Ferrari and AF Corse, including all the successes achieved in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) since its inception in 2012.
John Elkann, Executive Chairman of Ferrari: “With P499, we’re back to challenge for an outright win in the WEC series. When we decided to take part in this project, we embarked on a path of innovation and development, true to our tradition of seeing the track as the ideal terrain for pushing the boundaries of advanced technological solutions, solutions that will eventually be transferred to our road cars. We enter this challenge with humility, but with an awareness of the history that has led us to more than 20 World Endurance Racing titles and 9 overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Antonello Coletta, Head of Ferrari Attività Sportive GT: “The 499P is a dream. Today is an important moment for all the people who have worked so hard on this project over the past two years. We wanted to pay tribute to our history with many references, big and small, to a past made up of successes and titles. However, we are doing so by looking ahead, creating a manifesto of our commitment to the World Endurance Championship. The 499P is a prototype that is definitely a Ferrari, in the fullest sense of the term, and it gives us immense excitement to finally show it to our customers and the many enthusiasts of the marque.”
Ferdinando Kanitza, head of Ferrari GT track car development: “It’s a really exciting moment for the whole team and for me. We know that we have a huge responsibility. We have designed and engineered a car that is completely new and extremely sophisticated in every aspect. This unprecedented challenge has pushed everyone to a comprehensive collaborative effort involving every department in our company and our technical partners. Starting with a clean sheet of paper has been a source of unique and constant motivation to find effective solutions that guarantee the performance and reliability of the 499P. From the very first shakedown to the first race, we planned a very intensive development program, both on the test bench and on the track, which gave us some interesting feedback. The synthesis work that awaits us in the coming weeks and in which we will be involved in further testing of the track, is most important for the fine-tuning and final integration of all systems. We still have a long way to go, but the team is aware of the importance of the project and will continue to show commitment, passion, maturity and great professionalism.”