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Ferrari Confirms 4WD Hybrid for Prototype-Based LMH Car

Competizione GT boss says Ferrari LMH car will be 4WD hybrid built to prototype regs…

Photo: Ferrari

Ferrari has confirmed that its 2023 Le Mans Hypercar will be a four-wheel-drive, hybrid-powered machine built to the prototype side of the formula’s technical regulations.

Antonello Coletta, who is the director of Ferrari’s Competizione GT department, told Sportscar365 that the Italian marque has chosen the same core vehicle architecture as the Toyota GR010 Hybrid and the Peugeot 9X8 for its new prototype racing project.

Ferrari announced its entry into the LMH formula in February but did not declare whether it was building a pure racing prototype or using a road car model as a base. It was known to be developing a hybrid racing car, but the drivetrain format was previously unclear.

“The style is on the base of a prototype,” explained Coletta.

“Now we work a lot [on] the style because we start with a new style, but the wind tunnel will determine the final style. But the base will be a prototype.

“We have a very clear idea, but it’s very early to explain all the characteristics of the car.

“All the LMH world is moving to prototypes. It’s a logical decision. All the chances that exist are to start from road cars, but it’s impossible to have a road car that is competitive on the track.

“It will be four-wheel-drive. All the cars of the prototype are four-wheel-drive apart from the Glickenhaus. But Ferrari, Peugeot and Toyota will be four-wheel-drive.”

A major factor in Ferrari’s decision to enter LMH was the possibility for it to provide an identifiable link to its road cars, which can be achieved through the prototype machine’s styling and the deployment of hybrid powertrain technologies.

When asked how Ferrari intends to attach its LMH car to the company’s road car activities, Coletta said: “For the future, we will see. But we keep some applications from the race car for the road car. This is a Ferrari tradition.

“We work very closely with the Ferrari road car departments, together with the Competizione GT department.

“We are a big family and we work together for a maximum result and the maximum carry-over, if we have the chance, to put on the road cars.”

Despite being tight-lipped on other potential technical details, Coletta suggested that the LMH regulations could give Ferrari the opportunity to bring something different to the table, despite its car having the same architecture as the Toyota and the Peugeot.

Senior figures from Peugeot said after the recent launch of the 9X8 prototype that the rulebook for LMH enabled the French manufacturer to design an innovative vehicle, including opting against a rear wing to achieve the desired aero performance targets.

“The regulation is open and we have some chances to imagine a new idea,” said Coletta.

“We work very hard to have the best idea that we can have. But now, it’s stupid to put on the table our possible ideas that for us are better than others.

“I prefer to make the announcements from time to time.”

GTE-Pro Drivers Involved in Early Sim Testing

Coletta said that Ferrari is in the process of simulator testing to determine the design of its Le Mans Hypercar, which has not been given a public name.

He indicated that Ferrari’s current WEC GTE-Pro drivers – James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra – have been involved in the simulation process.

However, Coletta stressed that their involvement in the LMH car’s early development is no guarantee of race seat status, with Ferrari yet to announce the squad of drivers for its factory program.

AF Corse was named as the Ferrari factory team last month, for what will be a two-car program in the WEC’s top Hypercar class.

“The simulation and the study of the car is every day growing,” said Coletta.

“We work very hard all the days; we make a lot of meetings about LMH. It’s important to work very hard, but it’s normal that each day we move in front and not back.

“We started with our [GTE-Pro] lineup. For the moment, we are very happy with our lineup and we start with them.

“We have a Driver Academy that runs very well. We will see [how] to choose the final lineup for the prototype. At the moment, we don’t take any decision.

“Simply, we start with our drivers. Now, our lineup of the WEC works in the simulator. We have the four guys who are here and Davide Rigon: all our official drivers.”

Coletta added that Ferrari currently prefers to develop its LMH program using “in-house” drivers rather than recruiting people from outside the manufacturer’s current pool.

Toyota’s LMH project retained all the drivers from its LMP1 entry, while Peugeot opted to scour the recent prototype classes to assemble a squad with youth and experience.

“I would like to speak for us,” said Coletta. “I respect the decisions and choices of the other teams. At this moment, we have some drivers with a good experience in endurance.

“We have some drivers with good experience in single-seaters. We have drivers with experience in prototypes. For this matter, I think that we can choose on our own.

“If, after the first test, we will have the necessity to choose other drivers, OK. But now, I prefer to rest in-house.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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