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Ferrari Satisfied With Podium Result on 499P Debut

Ferrari “happy” with result on debut of new LMH car but also “a lot of things we can improve”…

Photo: Ferrari

Ferrari was satisfied with the debut of its new LMH car at the 1000 Miles of Sebring as the Italian manufacturer marked its return to top-level sports car racing with a podium.

Antonio Fuoco, Nicklas Nielsen and Miguel Molina steered the No. 50 Ferrari 499P to third place in the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener, whereas the sister No. 51 car finished 11 laps behind the winner after an accident with two hours to go.

Ferrari’s head of GT and sports race cars Ferdinando Cannizzo told reporters that the AF Corse-run factory team was “happy” with its Hypercar class debut and that its primary objectives were met, while also highlighting areas for improvement going forward.

“This was the target of the first race for us, the most we could achieve in our opinion,” he said of the podium result.

“The second target was to bring two cars to the end of the race, so good reliability. At the end, this actually happened.

“Two cars without [mechanical] problems, first target. Second, the podium. We need to be happy.

“Definitely it was definitely a very tough race. Toyota proved that experience has value so we need to definitely [react] to that, collect more experience and analyze the data [to see] what we can do better.

“I think there’s a lot of things we can improve but this was something that we expected.”

Ferrari upset reigning Hypercar world champion Toyota to claim pole for its first race at the top category of sports car racing as a factory team in half a century, however the Japanese manufacturer was stronger over the course of Friday’s eight-hour contest.

When asked why he thought the upper hand swung in Toyota’s direction from qualifying to the race, Cannizzo said: “Probably a lot of good choices at the right moment.

“I think we were somehow prepared for everything, I would say in an excellent way but it was very difficult for us as a first race.

“I think if you look at the other beginners, they had some more problems than us.

“So I would say that as a first race it was not that bad and definitely, probably, we left back something that we could do better next time.

He added: “The pole was just an indication that the job done so far was quite excellent for us but at the same time we knew very well that it was just a step.”

Pole-sitter Fuoco maintained the lead at the start ahead of Toyota drivers Sebastien Buemi and Mike Conway, until a safety car period occurred during the opening hour.

Ferrari AF Corse elected to pit both of its cars when the lane opened under the safety car, promoting the No. 8 Toyota to the lead.

The alternate strategy didn’t work in the long run for the 499Ps, as they didn’t challenge the Toyotas on track again and instead refocused on a battle for third with LMDh manufacturers Cadillac and Porsche.

“It’s something that we’ll analyze at the end,” Cannizzo said regarding the call to pit both 499Ps under the safety car.

“I’m not saying that was the right choice, but I don’t think the results would probably be different with a different choice.

“Again as I said, [there are] a lot of things that we want to analyze out of this first race but at the end we need to be definitely really happy with what we have achieved.”

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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