Ferrari 499P Le Mans

Le Mans 2023

Victory at Le Mans – 11th June 2023

Ferrari 499P Le Mans 2023 race

 Ferrari achieved a remarkable triumph in the Centenary race event of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, emerging victorious with the 499P prototype car driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi. Guidi, alongside James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi, who piloted the #51 car, completing an impressive 342 laps around the renowned French circuit – a brilliant drive for the Ferrari 499P at Le Mans 2023. This marked a significant milestone for Ferrari, as they made a successful comeback to the top class after a fifty-year absence, with the Ferrari-AF Corse team securing a historic victory in the world’s most famous endurance race.

The AF Corse driver lineup was as follows : 
Car #50 drivers were : Antonio Fuoco (Italy), Miguel Molina (Spain) and Nicklas Nielsen (Denmark)  
Car #51 drivers were : Alessandro Pier Guidi (Italy), James Calado (Great Britain) and Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy)

This was to be Ferrari’s 10th win at Le Mans and their first for 50 years with the 499P in its debut year and what a year to do it in with the Centenary mark in this wonderful race.  With a highly engineered new three litre, six cylinder engine in place incorportating the latest lightweight materials and technology, Ferrari only had one thing on their mind, a 2023 Le Mans win ! 

 Here are some key moments from the Le Mans 2023 24 hour race : 

At 15.00 CET the 24 hour race began with the two Ferrari 499P Le Mans 2023 cars in the first two positions with Nielsen leading in car #50. 

15.04 CET : Buemi in the Toyota car #8 moves into second position and posed a threat to Nielsen in the 499P car #50 who was in the lead. Eventually Buemi moves into first position with some great driving. Meanwhile, Conway in the other Toyota Gazoo racing GR010 Hybrid car takes third position who managed to gain a position over Calado in the Ferrari car #51.

15.53 CET : Calado in car #51goes for an attack against his AF Corse team mate Nielsen and does get the better of him and also the Toyota  being driven by Mike Conway. This attacking move does however cost the team some time and the rest of the pack close in. At this point in the race, Buemi in the Toyota car #8 leads the race and generates a healthy gap. 

Around the end of the third hour of the race, the Ferrari 499P car #51 was in third position behind the other 499P car #50 being driven by Antonio Fuoco. In the early hours of the race most of the various Hypercars were alternating the race lead at various points. 

At the end of the seventh hour, Pier Guidi was leading in the 499P car #51 having taken over from his co- driver Giovinazzi sometime earlier in the race. However, the Italian spun the 499P into the gravel at the first chicane on the Mulsanne straight, requiring the marshals to lift him and the car out. A slow zone was declared in zone 3 to allow the car be removed from its position.

Guidi had a pretty comfortable lead of around 47 seconds over the other cars but it appears that he was trying avoid another car that had left the track earlier in the session.  This event meant that the Peugeot 9X8 car #94 being driven by Muller was able to move ahead of the other Ferrari 499P car #50 being driven by Nielsen.

While normally this would have cost Ferrari at least a few laps, luck was indeed on their side. One of their major challengers, which was car #7 for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team, with Kamui Kobyashi driving, came together with car #66, a JMW Motorsport Ferrari GTE EVO being driven by Louis Prette , and car #35 which was an Alpine LMP2 being driven by Memo Rojas at Tertre Rouge, in a bizarre incident within the slow zone which was difficult to make out in the darkness.

The result of this strange incident (which may have been initially caused by the slow zone to recover Pier Guidi’s stricken and beached Ferrari at the Daytona Chicane) was that a driveshaft in the #7 Toyota broke, making it impossible for Kobyashi to get it back to the pits.

The safety car then came out to recover the cars involved in the Tertre Rouge incident, ensuring Pier Guidi’s mistake didn’t cost him anything other than a few positions, lying fifth being the safety car.

However, drama for the 499P soon followed, with an ERS (Energy Recovery System) cooling problem caused by a stone puncturing the vehicle radiator.

During the night, Sebastien Buemi in car #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing and James Calado in car #51 Ferrari battled it out at the front of this exciting race that was developing. However, Ferrari eventually took the advantage in the pits when they only refuelled while Toyota made a tyre swap.

Toyota regained the lead on track but couldn’t shake off the Ferrari 499P.

Guidi in the 499P car #51 closed the gap to the Toyota on track just before both cars headed to the pits again. Service was done on both cars, but Ferrari came out on top of Toyota, only swapping tyres and drivers while the Toyota needed additional work done on the front of their race car.

Later , both the Ferrari and the Toyota pitted again, swapping to Antonio Giovinazzi and Sebastien Buemi respectively, and to new tyres on either side. 

The morning session brought some further exciting action to the race. 

08.43 CET :  The leading 499P car #51 Ferrari came to pit for a standard service. They then rejoined the track still in the race lead, and also regained their advantage when Buemi also brought his Toyota into the pits. The gap was now sitting on around a minute.

09.00 CET :  The gap between Giovinazzi in the 499P car #51  and Buemi in the #8 Toyota was fairly constant at around one minute difference. As it stood, the win was going down between these two teams as Richard Westbrook in the #2 Cadillac who was in third place was  trailing by more than three minutes. However, another safety car could change everything.

09.31 CET : Things started to change dramatically for Ferrari as #51 Ferrari 499P headed to the pits for a driver change as Guidi took the wheel. However, technical issues managed to keep the car stationary. It transpired later that Ferrari crew reported that the issue in pit lane was that the car simply wouldn’t fire up and a power cycle was required. 

The #8 Toyota car had to capitalise on this situation (having mirrored their opponents and also came into the pits) as they overtook Ferrari in the pit lane. When the Ferrari finally got going again, they were just under six seconds behind the Toyota

09.38 CET : Guidi in car #51 Ferrari managed to close the gap on the Toyota being driven by Buemi. Within minutes Ferrari and Toyota were engaging in an exciting battle.

Ten minutes later Guidi in the 499P car #51 is in the lead when he makes a great move onto the Hunaudieres straight when he accelerates past Buemi’s Toyota who tried to regain the lead but the Ferrari came out on top as they looked strong on pace at this point. 

10.18 CET: The 499P being driven by Guidi was around 9 seconds ahead in the lead at this point and when you consider the spin he had in the night session of the race it is quite astonishing to have seen him in this position in the morning.

10.58 CET: The gap tightened as Ferrari decided to pit. Guidi brought the 499P in and handed over to his co-driver Calado. Toyota now had the gap down to 4 seconds at this point.

Ferrari 499P Pit Stop
A Le Mans 2023 pit stop for the Ferrari 499P

11.16 CET: There was some great teamwork from Ferrari as Calado kept Hartley in the Toyota behind him well at bay whilst the other Ferrari 499P (#50) with Molina at the wheel (lapped car) was driving pretty aggressively to occupy Hartley in the Toyota which considering he was a front runner was raising some eyebrows for sure at this point of the race. Great teamwork from AF Corse. 

Hartley in the Toyota had to negotiate some LMP2 traffic which did not help his teams cause and cost them some time. The #51 Ferrari 499P had a five second lead at this point with Calado driving on fresher tyres. 

12.26 CET : Calado headed to the pits for a service and a driver change. Giovinazzi was the new driver coming in the #51 Ferrari 499P and the gap was now 15 seconds over the Toyota.

13:16 CET: A major turn then occured in the race lead. Hirakawa in the Toyota had a lock-up on his car and span into the gravel section and also hit the barrier. The Toyota suffered some damage and returned to the pits much to Ferrari’s delight.

13.53 CET: Giovinazzi headed to the pits for a driver change to Guidi for the final hour race stint in the 499P. At this point Ferrari had a 2 minute advantage over Toyota who also had to pit.

14.05 CET: Ferrari had over a minute lead over the #8 Toyota being driven by Hirakawa at this closing stage of the race. The Cadillacs #2 and #3 were in third and fourth position driven by Bamber and Bourdais respectively with the Ferrari 499P #50 in fifth place.

Ferrari 499P Le Mans Win 2023
Car #51 in the lead at La Sarthe

15.01 CET – Guidi drives car #51 over the finish line and makes the Ferarri 499P the winner of Le Mans 2023 !

Crossing the finish line shortly after car #51, the other AF Corse team consisting of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, and Nicklas Nielsen claimed fifth place in the #50 car. They encountered setbacks during the night, requiring repairs that hindered their chances of reaching the podium. Nevertheless, their outstanding performance allowed them to regain several positions in the rankings.

Both Ferrari 499P cars started from the front two positions on the grid, represented by Hypercar numbers 50 and 51, respectively. This achievement was made possible by the impressive lap times recorded during the Hyperpole session when Fuoco secured pole position.

With this victory, Ferrari secured its tenth overall triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, adding to their previous victories in 1949, 1954, 1958, and 1960-1965. Ferrari’s legacy at Le Mans now comprises an impressive tally of 39 victories, including 29 class wins.  

For further information on the Ferrari 499P competing in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and other news please have a read of our Latest News section. 

Ferrari 499P win
The victorious AF Corse drivers in the #51 Ferrari 499P
Ferrari 499P Le Mans win
Let the celebrations begin for 499P #51 at Le Mans 2023