Ferrari has announced their latest entrant to the Le Mans Hypercar series; the all-new Ferrari 499P. While it is definitely here on title-winning duties, the four-wheel-drive racer also pays tribute to the legendary Ferrari 312P, celebrating 50 years since the iconic speedster hit the track for its last WEC appearance.
Ferrari says the letter "P" in 499P stands for "Prototype", while the 499 represents the engine's unitary displacement. That's in line with a naming pattern used for the 312P and one that was often used for baptizing the company's prototypes.
Unveiled at the Ferrari Finali Mondiali event held at Imola, the 499P is the first works Prototype from the Maranello-based carmaker in over 50 years. It is charged with the duty of adding to their twenty-two world titles and nine overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In line with Hypercar class regulations, the 499P is powered by a hybrid powertrain. This includes a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 mid-rear engine that works with an Energy Recovery System (fancy name of electric motor). Sharing the same architecture as the 296 GT3's engine, the twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter V6 powertrain in this case, has been overhauled to suit the prototype and reduce the total weight. It is limited to 500 kW (680 cv), again in line with regulations.
On the other hand, the electric motor is mounted to and exclusively runs the front axle, churning out an extra 200 kW (272 cv) of its own. Rechargeable during acceleration and braking, a 900-volt battery which is purpose built but benefits from Ferrari's Formula 1 technology delivers power to the electric motor.
The car's systems have to adjust how much power the V6 engine and electric motor supply at any given time to conform with the regulations. The pair works in conjunction with a seven-speed sequential gearbox.
The 499P borrows design cues and elements from some of Ferrari's street-legal cars. At the front, The 499P's headlights are similar to those found on the Daytona SP3 street car, while the back is characterized by what Ferrari terms a "double horizontal wing" setup. That is basically made of the main wing and upper flaps. The lower wing features a minimalist 'light bar' that adds some uniqueness. According to Ferrari, these elements where designed to optimize the car's aerodynamics.
One design element one can link to the iconic 312P is the paint job - a predominantly red livery with yellow accents made famous by the iconic 312P. Ferrari's most successful racing numbers, 50 and 51, will be worn by each of the two cars to participate in the series.
The 499P comes with a custom carbon fiber monocoque chassis along with bodywork "sculpted from a flat surface". The car's electronic systems are developed from existing GT racing setups, while the brake-by-wire system not only aids with superior braking but also facilitates the havesting of kinetic energy by the front axle during braking.
With more than 7000km of practice under its belt and plenty more to come, the Ferrari 499P will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship in the elite class from 2023 and will make its debut at the 1000 Miles of Sebring in March. Ferrari is yet to confirm its drivers for the series.