It was a special day for Lilou Wadoux in January when the 21-year-old Frenchwoman took her first steps as official Competizioni GT driver in Maranello and at the Fiorano track. Set to make her debut under Ferrari colours – at the wheel of a 488 GTE – in the FIA World Endurance Championship at the 1000 Miles of Sebring, she had the first photos taken in the headquarters of the Prancing Horse, which then travelled all over the world.
Lilou, how did you feel on your first day in Maranello?
“The location made a great impression on me, since it was my first time at the Ferrari headquarters. I can’t describe what I felt – it was definitely a special day. It’s fantastic to begin 2023 this way.”
What does being the first woman on the Ferrari roster of official drivers mean to you?
“My goal was to be able to join this group of professionals, without other distinctions. Of course, being the first female official Competizioni GT driver is really gratifying.”
In November 2022, in the tests in Bahrain following the final round of the WEC, you tried out the 488 GTE: how did that experience go?
“It was amazing, and it taught me a lot. There wasn’t much time available, given that before getting in the GTE I was in a test in an LMH. To get a feel for the car, the suggestions and advice I was given by Antonio Fuoco, who was there, were important. I think we can consider the first test positive.”
At the wheel of a Ferrari 488 GTE, with the Richard Mille AF Corse team in the LMGTE Am class, the world endurance Championship experience is coming. What are you expecting?
“It’s only January. It’s hard to say at the moment, but the goal is to finish on the podium and – why not? – pick up some wins. I’m waiting to get to know my teammates better (Alessio Rovera and Luís Pérez Companc, Ed.), then we’ll see how it goes at Sebring…”
This year you’ll return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the second year running, after racing with an LMP2 prototype in 2022. What does it mean to take part in the Circuit de la Sarthe endurance race for a French driver?
“It’s extraordinary, really. Thinking of the next Le Mans, I know that the goal will be to give it my all, to have a great race and get a good position. Picking up a great result for me, for the team and for Ferrari.”
Your motorsport adventure only began eight years ago. It was the 2015-16 season, when you debuted in karting at the age of 14. What do you remember from that year?
“I was only in two races, not the whole season. I had a problem with the brakes at the end of the first race and I finished ahead of time in the second because of an accident. But the pace was good…”
Endurance racing has a long tradition and a charm all of its own. You share the car with your teammates, work as a team: what’s the secret formula for getting results?
“You need to compromise, work as a group and have great team spirit. Those are the essential factors for being at ease with the car and your teammates.”
What are the thoughts that go through your mind when you’re driving in the middle of the night for a race?
“I really like driving by night. It’s truly evocative. If I think back to the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the LMP2 prototype, I remember a wonderful experience. At night you really need to concentrate on your own driving and avoid making any mistakes.”
Compared to the past, there are many female stars of motorsport now, and in different roles…
“The situation is constantly improving, given that the numbers of women working in our ‘world’ are growing. In addition to the drivers, there are many other female professionals. For example, in 2022 when I was racing with the prototypes, there was a female mechanic as well as a female engineer in my group.”
Did you dream of becoming a driver as a little girl?
“When I was little I played tennis, then at around 15 I had a physical problem so I left the world of sport temporarily. One day my parents asked me if I wanted to try go-karts. My father had raced in some rallies in the past. I did a test and got into motorsport.”
Who was your idol in sport as a little girl?
“Rafael Nadal, also because I loved tennis, and Ayrton Senna, because my father had followed him for a long time and often talked to me about him. I like Nadal’s personality, and I find his way of relating to others fascinating.”
Outside the paddock, what are your hobbies?
“I like architecture, to the extent that I sometimes create designs from scratch on the PC. I like music, from eighties and nineties pop to rock, while if I had to give a name I’d day Daft Punk.”
How would you describe yourself with three adjectives?
“Determined, combative and friendly.”
Who are the most important people in your life?
“My parents and my family, and some close friends.”
What are your goals for 2023?
“Prove myself a good pilot.”
If you had a crystal ball, what wish would you want to come true?
“Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans and driving the Ferrari LMH one day.”