Ferrari is strongly interested in returning to top-level prototype racing and would prefer to do so with its own chassis, according to the manufacturer’s director of GT racing.
Antonello Coletta, who oversees Ferrari’s GT department and would also be in charge of any prototype venture, told reporters in Maranello on Saturday that the newly-launched LMDh platform presents an attractive option for the brand’s future sports car involvement.
He suggested that Ferrari would prefer to enter a car under the global LMDh formula rather than the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Le Mans Hypercar category but also stressed the importance of Ferrari building its own chassis.
Le Mans Hypercar is the only one of the two formulas that currently allows this, since LMDh cars are to be based on LMP2 machinery with spec hybrid units and other shared internal systems.
Coletta believes that LMDh is the most appropriate route from a cost perspective but also wants more autonomy in terms of car design, to comply with Ferrari’s sporting ethos.
“Frankly speaking, in front of us we have an important strategic moment because to have the same platform for WEC and IMSA is a good opportunity,” he said.
“But we need to understand exactly the new sporting and technical rules and, just after Sebring, we will have all the matters in front of us to decide if we have a chance to make a car or not.
“Of course, for Ferrari, it’s important to have a direct line with the road cars. By definition, endurance is the opportunity to have a direct link, such as the 458, the 488 and all our cars of the past.
“Now, yes, the prototypes are different cars, but it depends what we can put on the car… the engine, yes OK, but the other solutions are not completely clear.”
Coletta admitted that the “big issue” for Ferrari is the fact that LMDh does not allow manufacturers to create their own chassis, while Le Mans Hypercar does.
As the rules stand, Ferrari could negate this issue and save money by using parts from an LMDh car and applying them to a Maranello-designed Hypercar.
“The most important issue we have from [the convergence announcement at] Daytona is the same platform and the reduction of the costs in respect to Hypercar,” said Coletta.
“The budget that we need to make a season with LMDh will be more or less the same as GTE. This is perfect for us [because] the Hypercar is more expensive.
“But, in other matters, can the Hypercar race [in IMSA] now… it’s not sure.
“If you take all the parts of the DPi, the costs will be low because it’s the same brakes, the same hybrid, the same suspension. But it could be a chance to make a chassis.
“But we don’t know if this is possible because we know the U.S. car can go to Le Mans but not if the European Hypercar can go to the U.S. This is another matter on the table.”
LMDh Could Drive Out Pro-Level GTE Racing
Coletta suggested that similar budgets between LMDh and GTE-Pro could force the end of manufacturer involvement in the leading GT classes of the WEC and IMSA.
Current GTE-Pro constructor Aston Martin has already committed to building a Valkyrie Hypercar while Porsche, BMW and Corvette parent brand GM have also responded positively to the convergence agreement.
“The very problem is the future of GTE,” said Coletta.
“If we go ahead with a new platform, GTE-Pro will die. It could be that GTE-Am will continue for two or three years. Another option could be that GT3 comes into WEC.
“But I don’t know if this is possible because if we look at all the manufacturers of GT3, it is difficult to have a class for all. We have 13 or 14 manufacturers.
“Ferrari has a GT3 and for us, it’s an important commercial category because for us the official [factory] cars are in GTE and customer cars are in GT3.
“Actually, the politics of other manufacturers is completely different, if we see the current manufacturers in GT3 we have in front of us many official cars from Mercedes, Lamborghini, Porsche… we don’t have that.
“But this is a completely different philosophy. If this is coming to Le Mans, this is another matter to be reflected.”