Ferrari 499P Le Mans

Le Mans 2024

Magnifique !

Ferrari 499P - Le Mans 2024

On June 16 2024, Ferrari  secured an 11th 24 Hours of Le Mans win, the second in a row for the 499P after the all important Centenary success they achieved. Drivers Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen in the #50 Ferrari 499P added their name to the honours of the 24 Hours French endurance classic alongside those of last year’s victors Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi.

After a race heavily affected by rain that upset the plans of most of the 23 Hypercar race teams, Ferrari came out on top once again.

This year the new privateer entered Ferrari 499P #83 AF Corse in Giallo Modena yellow colour was entered and driven by official Maranello drivers Yifei Ye, Robert Shwartzman and Robert Kubica, was in the race spotlight for a long time indeed. It held first position for a total of 83 laps, but had to retire after 248 laps. It was a mighty performance from #83 which held off the two red colour 499P cars for some time.

From the outset of the race, the #50 and #51 factory cars set the pace. Nicklas Nielsen, in the #50, grabbed the lead from Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Laurens Vanthoor in the pole position #6 Porsche 963.

Antonio Giovinazzi (#51 Ferrari 499P) then took matters ahead and overtook the Belgian driver. So, at just under 14 minutes the factory 499P cars were leading the pack. What was impressive was that the privateer entry of the Giallo Modena yellow #83 managed to reach fifth place from the starting place of 12.

The factory team’s dreams of race domination by the Prancing Horses was then washed away when the unpredictable weather began to interfere with the racing.

As the first drops of dreaded rain began to fall around 17:40, the teams had to decide quickly on their 24 hours race strategy. Several hypercars – such as the #51 Ferrari 499P, the #4 Porsche and the #7 Toyota – switched to wet-weather tyres very early indeed.

Driver André Lotterer also opted for the same choice wet-weather tyre for the #6 Porsche 963 however, this may not have been the correct option to go for. It was at that moment that Robert Kubica in #83 started to shine on the track as it was the only car running soft slick tyres. As soon as the track started to dry out, Robert Shwartzman relieved Robert Kubica and sped off with an increased race lead lap after lap.

On Saturday night around 10pm, the rain returned to the race which was not good news. There was a series of pit stops performed and AF Corse yet again picked the right tyre choice with wet weather Michelins. The #83 Ferrari 499P began to lap other cars by 30 seconds quicker who were running slicks. Unfortunately, at 22:37 there was a dramatic moment with Robert Kubica in the #83 coming to contact with the #15 BMW M Hybrid V8 which was being driven by Dries Vanthoor.  The Belgian driver’s intention was to keep ahead on the lead lap in case the Saftey cars were called onto track but the collision between both cars meant the BMW Hypercar hit the barrier with race over for Vanthoor. It was then that the race stewards found Kubica in #83 guilty of shunting and he was subject to a 30 second time penalty which was to take place in the next pit stop. At 00:30 the penalty was served and the Giallo Modena yellow #83 slipped down the race rankings. It was when Yifei Ye pulled into the pits with a smoking underside on the 499P it was then race over.

It was at that point that Porsche Penske Motorsport, Toyota Gazoo Racing and Ferrari AF Corse continued to battle it out with each other.

(BMW were unable to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the V12 LMR’s win in the best possible way as #15 BMW M Hybrid V8 was eliminated by the collision with the #83 Ferrari 499P. During Saturday evening, both Alpine A424s suffered with engine failure and Peugeot had a moment of misfortune when it dropped out of the lead lap with just under three hours of the race underway.)

With the onset of further rain during the night hours, the fight between Ferrari, Porsche and Toyota did not amount to much. Race Control brought out the Safety Cars for nearly four and a half hours where there was no overtaking.

So, seven hours from the end of the race, eleven cars were still on the lead lap and victory was on the cards for one of them. When the rain stopped, the battle between them was relentless however, Cadillac managed to lose two cars with an oil leak on #3 driven by Sebastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande, Scott Dixon) and there was an accident with #311 with the driver Pipo Derani.

Around Sunday, mid-day,  Antonio Fuoco’s 46th lap had long been the fastest in 3:29.208 however at 12:15, Alex Palou (#2 Cadillac V-Series.R, Cadillac Racing) stunned everyone with a time of  3:28.938 on lap 253, before driver Kamui Kobayashi (#7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid) managed to beat it on the following lap with a time of 3:28.756.

Nicklas Nielsen admitted he thought “everything was lost” when, with two hours to go, the right-hand door of his #50 Ferrari 499P flapped open after a pitstop. It looked dramatic and must have given the driver untold grief as he tried in vain to close it as he drove at speed around the track but was forced to pit from the lead with an hour and 43 minutes left so a Ferrari mechanic could click it shut. Crucially the car also took on fuel – but the question now was whether Nielsen could run long enough to stop just once more before the finish, then see out his final stint and make it to the chequered flag to win.

A little later, the rain returned for a final flourish just before 14:00 and few spots turned into heavier drizzle in the first sector, from the home straight to the Daytona chicane and a Ferrari one-two was finally on the cards.

Finally, the #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid of José María López/Kamui Kobayashi/Nyck de Vries split the red-colour Ferraris. There was a gap of just 14.221 seconds when the chequered flag came down!

The race concluded as followed for the Hypercars with Ferrari doing exceptionally well again:

  1.  #50 Ferrari 499P | Ferrari AF Corse | Antonio Fuoco/Miguel Molina/Nicklas Nielsen | 311 laps
  2. #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid | Toyota Gazoo Racing | José María López/Kamui Kobayashi/Nyck de Vries | +14.221
  3. #51 Ferrari 499P | Ferrari AF Corse | Alessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado/Antonio Giovinazzi | +36.730
  4. #6 Porsche 963 | Porsche Penske Motorsport | Kévin Estre/André Lotterer/Laurens Vanthoor | +37.897
  5. #8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid | Toyota Gazoo Racing | Sébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa | +1:02.824
Ferrari 499P Car 83