It’s been five decades since Ferrari competed with a fully works outfit in the top class of global endurance racing. In 2023 the Italian automakers will be returning to the sportscar fold with a brand-new Le Mans Hypercar.
Rumours of Ferrari joining the WEC have been doing the rounds for years. In spite of reports suggesting a LMP1 programme from the Prancing Horse was close, the plans never materialised and fans were left disappointed. Now, everything has changed: Ferrari will be joining the WEC’s LMH category at the beginning of the 2023 season.
It appears that the stars have aligned, with numerous factors playing a role in the decision. Cost caps in Formula 1 have forcibly reduced Ferrari’s budget, leaving additional cash available for other projects. Strict Italian labour laws also mean that additional personnel remain employed but unable to work on the F1 programme. LMH is seemingly the answer.
Ferrari has always maintained a strong presence in the World Endurance Championship, albeit lower down the field. The Italian marque has been an ever-present in the GTE Pro and GTE Am classes with quasi-works squad AF Corse handling most of the programme alongside a host of privateers. The recent departures of Aston Martin, BMW and Ford have decimated the class and reduced the World Championship for GT Manufacturers to a Ferrari-Porsche-only affair. With major question marks surrounding the future of the GTE Pro class, Ferrari evidently believe the time is right to have a shot at overall victories.
Many questions surrounding the Ferrari Hypercar
With Ferrari only having announced their commitment to the WEC in 2023, there are many questions on what the programme will look like. Will AF Corse be handed responsibility for running the effort? Will Ferrari look to develop a road-based hypercar or a prototype-based version? Will it use a hybrid drivetrain or a regular engine? Will some of Ferrari’s GTE Pro stars be given the opportunity to step up to prototype racing?
It will likely be some time until we get any answers to these questions. Ferrari will now be getting down to work in Maranello on the design and conception phase before testing likely begins in 2022. What’s clear is that, with Audi, Ferrari, Glickenhaus, Peugeot, Porsche and Toyota already confirmed to compete in the top class of the WEC moving forward, the future of prototype racing is very bright indeed.