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Ferrari Trying to “Understand Where We Are” After Sebring

Ferrari hoping to be more competitive in Spa GTE-Pro race after struggles at Sebring…

Photo: Ferrari

Ferrari’s FIA World Endurance Championship technical director says the Italian manufacturer is trying to “understand where we are” in the GTE-Pro class fight coming off the back of an uncompetitive run at the 1000 Miles of Sebring.

The factory AF Corse team heads into this weekend’s TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa with ground to make up after not featuring in the GTE-Pro podium mix at the season-opener.

Both Ferrari 488 GTE Evos languished behind Porsche GT Team and Corvette Racing at Sebring.

Technical boss Ferdinando Cannizzo suggested that the Ferraris were lacking around 20 horsepower at that event. No Balance of Performance changes have been made to the Ferraris for Spa, with the only tweak being a two-liter fuel capacity reduction for Porsche.

The reason for their lack of pace is still not fully known, but it is believed that they struggled to adapt to new BoP settings put in place for the WEC’s new renewable fuel.

“We were far in terms of performance,” Cannizzo told Sportscar365.

“Definitely our car level was not enough to fight with the leading group. We tried to do our best to optimize the car. I think the car was not bad in terms of handling and it improved during the weekend.

“Sebring is definitely not an easy track with the bumps, so finding the right balance is not easy. But the lack of power was evident. We need to understand that.

“Setting a proper balance in the category with the new fuel that came, the tire development that we have year after year… it’s not easy.

“I think we need to understand where we are.

“The job is not easy, so we are as usual working with the FIA and ACO to better understand the situation.

“We need to keep working hard on our side to be as competitive as possible and leave them to work on that side to understand what to do, to have a good competition.”

Ferrari was closer to the head of the GTE-Pro field during Free Practice at Spa, although the No. 92 Porsche topped every session at a track that has historically suited the German manufacturer’s GTE package.

When asked if he believes the Ferrari will be more competitive in Belgium than it was in the U.S, Cannizzo was non-committal but said: “I hope that it improves.

“Last year was difficult for us here, because Porsche as we know is very competitive on the grip-limited conditions.

“We need to work very well on that side to optimize the downforce levels in order to be as competitive as possible.

“On the other side, we will see. At the moment we do not think we can be as competitive. We are looking more for pace, for consistency and I hope this will give us some good results for the race.”

Cannizzo suggested that the AF Corse Ferrari team is targeting a podium result at Spa, an objective that it wasn’t able to pursue at Sebring.

However, both Ferrari and Porsche agree that the two-liter fuel tank size reduction for the 911 RSRs should equalize GTE-Pro stint lengths after Porsche held an edge at Sebring.

“I think it should be now a bit more fair, in that respect,” said Cannizzo.

“Definitely this would also help the strategy. We have the same opportunity for strategy because we can now probably run the same number of laps per stint.

“I think this is a good move to have a better competition.”

Porsche’s head of factory GTE motorsport, Alexander Stehlig, commented: “It was a decision from the FIA to change to the renewable fuel for this year.

“The renewable fuel has a little bit less energy content. This we also know from Supercup where we have experience in renewable fuel.

“We know that the engine behaves a little bit different and you lose a little bit of power. The FIA then adjusts this with their measurements. The FIA balanced this for Sebring.

“Every manufacturer had to do a dyno run. We have fuel flow meters, torque meters, live data. So they can quite see what we are doing.”

Stehlig noted that the two-liter reduction to 97 liters for GTE-Am cars had already been enforced during the mid-April ELMS round at Paul Ricard. The WEC GTE-Pro Porsches have three liters more than their Am counterparts.

“We were able to do one or two stints more than Ferrari [at Sebring],” he said.

“That is why they reacted with two liters. In Paul Ricard we had little shorter stint lengths. But I think the two liters is correct.”

Ferrari’s top GTE management appeared dissatisfied with the Sebring outcome and did not issue a comment after the race, but Cannizzo said that it did not “ask anything specific” of the ACO and FIA in the wake of that event.

He also dismissed the notion that Ferrari’s Sebring struggles could have been related to how the car worked on that particular track.

“I don’t think it is correct to say that our performance at Sebring was because we are not optimized for the track,” Cannizzo said.

“We know how to set up the car at Sebring; we know the car does not suffer too much on the bumps and so on. That is not a big problem.

“What I can say is that we are not hugely experienced at Sebring so maybe we could get a few tenths compared to the competitors that use the track for development.

“But we were not expecting to be that far.

“The problem is that it was a difficult race for us. For me, it is just a matter of forgetting Sebring and moving forward.

“That is what we are doing: focusing on our strengths and trying to maximize our potential.”

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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