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Fuoco “Surprised” by Ferrari Sebring Pole Upset

Antonio Fuoco reacts to Ferrari’s first pole position in Hypercar debut at Sebring…

Photo: Focus Pack/FIA WEC

Antonio Fuoco expressed surprise at Ferrari’s shock pole position for the 1000 Miles of Sebring, saying that the Italian manufacturer ‘achieved something amazing’ in the 499P’s maiden qualifying outing.

Fuoco steered the No. 50 car to the fastest time on Thursday evening, beating the pair of Toyota GR010 Hybrids that had dominated all three Free Practice sessions.

It is the first pole position for Ferrari in the top category of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

“To be honest I’m a bit surprised,” Fuoco said.  “I am surprised because I think what we achieved is something amazing and we should be proud.

“We also know that tomorrow will be a long race, so we need to switch our minds and think about the race tomorrow.

“It will be quite long and the temperature will be quite huge, especially for the tire degradation.

“We are in a good position and I’m sure that me and our teammates will try our best.”

Ferrari’s qualifying upset was partially possible thanks to a significant time gain compared to practice.

Fuoco’s best effort in practice, a 1:46.777 in the third and final session, was over a second-and-a-half slower than the time produced during qualifying later that day.

“I think the temperature of the track was the key because it was dropping quite a lot,” Fuoco said to explain the time gain.

“For sure with the cool track, the track is fast. So I think we improved quite a lot for the track conditions.”

The Italian added that the team had attempted to run a qualifying simulation earlier in the day, but noted that traffic during the practice sessions likely masked the car’s outright pace.

“We tried this morning but in Free Practice we are with the other cars so it is difficult to find a free lap,” he said.

“In qualifying it’s different so I think we put it all together and we showed our potential.”

On the topic of Friday’s 1000-mile or eight-hour race, Fuoco said that Ferrari was still building on its understanding with regards to tire management, which he anticipated will become a critical factor due to high temperatures.

“As I said it will be really hot conditions so I think we need to think how to manage the tires,” he noted. “The guys are doing some work to understand what we can do and we try to do our best.

“We know that this track is also quite tricky for the car, for reliability and everything. So for us it’s really important to finish the race to collect a lot of data and if we are there we try to take many points as we can.

“Starting on really hot conditions and then going through the night, the track will again have some effects.

“So I think we need to understand how to manage the tires from the first part of the race and then bring it to the end of the race.

“I think we are limited with tires, so we need to double stint at one point. For sure it is the key at the moment.”

Low Sun Caused Visibility Issues in Qualifying

Fuoco added that the low-hanging sun caused challenging circumstances for the drivers, implying that his vision was largely impaired down the Ullman Straight and through Sunset Bend on his fastest lap.

“If I’m a little bit honest on the last corner I just sent it,” he said.  “It was really tough, but I had some references from Free Practice so when I saw the sun was right on my visor and the light was quite tricky to see the corner, I just sent it.

“I also had a big moment on the bump but at the end it worked.”

He further hinted that his pole lap could potentially have been quicker.

“I had the feeling it was a good lap,” he concluded. “I made small mistakes in some corners but it felt quite okay in general.

“I was also trying to improve on the second lap, but it was not the case so I just slowed down and came back to the pits.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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