Ferrari made a triumphant return to the top class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with victory for the 499P number 51. The Prancing Horse claimed its tenth overall victory and the thirty-ninth, including its history of class wins at the La Sarthe circuit. Here are the comments at the end of round four of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship.
Antonio Fuoco, 499P #50: “The victory in the Hypercar class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a historic moment for the entire team on its return after 50 years.
It could have been an even greater joy, but sadly we were unlucky because of a problem we had in the night. We are enjoying this moment for the team and looking ahead to the next one.”
Miguel Molina, 499P #50: “It was a difficult race for me because overnight, I suffered damage to the radiator, and we had to change it, which compromised the race. We recovered well and pushed at an excellent pace, but obviously, by that point, victory was impossible. I think Ferrari has done an extraordinary job, coming here after 50 years and being competitive enough to win.
I want to congratulate Antonio Giovinazzi, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, and all the team members for the fantastic result. We missed a chance to fight for victory, but I’m sure we can do it next time”.
Nicklas Nielsen, 499P #50: “We’re proud of this result because it shows that the last few months’ work has paid off. We came here with a new car and showed how good it is.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is certainly special. You need to be quick but also lucky, and this time luck wasn’t on our side. However, we’re delighted for our colleagues in the 51 and Ferrari”.
Alessandro Pier Guidi, 499P #51: “It takes time to grasp what we did. Probably now, we are part of the history of Ferrari, the biggest brand in the world.
As an Italian, I have dreamed of driving for this brand since childhood. Now it's real. We won Le Mans with a red car. It isn't easy to describe what you feel. It’s a mix of emotions. If you think about how much work there is behind this victory. We worked 24/7. We tried to give our best, but everyone worked non-stop, the engineers and the mechanics, for one year, and the work finally paid off.
We knew from the start that reliability would be a key factor. The car was new and the race crazy: the weather was mad, with many slow zones and safety cars. But in the end, Le Mans is always like this. You have to try to stay out of trouble or at least to minimise the mistakes. I think we did quite well”.
James Calado, 499P #51: “It’s an amazing feeling to win this race. The team did an amazing job. The track was amazing, honestly. It feels so special to drive: the balance, the performance, the engine, the way it works were superb. It’s a big thanks to everyone involved in this project to make this happen. I think it shows what Ferrari is made of.
Obviously, I’ve won here in GT twice, but this is a bit different. Definitely a different feeling: the attention involved, the Ferrari fans, you can see all the red in every corner. So, a big thanks to all the supporters. I’m very happy”.
Antonio Giovinazzi, 499P #51: “For me and Alessandro it’s an even more special feeling. We first drove this car last July, so to have achieved this result, pole and victory, after just under a year, is undoubtedly fantastic. It was by no means a given that we’d make it, but the entire team and my teammates did a great job, and here we are today. Thanks to Ferrari, who made all this happen. We are back to winning ways after 50 years, and we should be very proud”.
John Elkann, Chairman Ferrari: “This has been an unforgettable day that I’d like to dedicate to everyone at Ferrari. After 50 years we have returned to compete in the highest category of endurance racing that has a place at the very heart of our story and that of all motorsport. We're proud indeed to have taken Italy once again to the top step of the podium at Le Mans, celebrating in the best possible style the centenary of the most important race of its kind in the world. This victory that Antonello Coletta, Amato Ferrari, Ferdinando Cannizzo and the entire team, from our mechanics to our drivers, have achieved today in such challenging conditions - because of the 24 hour duration, the unpredictable weather and the impressive strength of our competitors - serves as an example for us all. The emotions they have given to our tifosi on a great day that brings together past, present and future, is also a reminder of the importance of finding the courage and the humility to always improve. Full of enthusiasm and joy, I'd like to thank all our colleagues who have given us this extraordinary victory: a success that we celebrate with all of our tifosi and with our country”.
Antonello Coletta, Global Head of Endurance and Corse Clienti: “It is a fantastic day today at Le Mans, a historic and epic day in which Ferrari has returned to winning the overall classification of the 24 Hours after 58 years.
We are really proud because it is 50 years since our last participation and we have come back into the most important class, the Hypercar, in the centenary year of the race: a series of numbers that make us relive the history of this truly legendary race. More than 350,000 people were here to see the 61 cars, with the most important marques in the world and that is also why we are very proud to have won the top class.
Among other things, with Italian drivers, who allowed us to take pole and the win today with two out of three of the crew from our own country. So, Ferrari has proudly put us back on the top step of the podium”.
Ferdinando Cannizzo, Head of Endurance Race Cars: “It is thrilling; it is a feeling that is hard to describe. I’m not just referring to today’s result, but I’m talking about the work done over these last two intense years. We have grown as a team and learnt to trust each other. We started from scratch and we have come this far.
We should be proud of what we have done. In the run-up to the competition, I would not have expected a victory, even though we worked with incredible concentration and determination. It has been a hard slog for everyone, dedicating so much time to the project and we really have to thank our families for that. We were well aware that it was the first time and that it would not be easy to get to the finish line with two cars. However, hour by hour, our confidence grew and what we had thought, studied and planned came true. Congratulations to the whole team.
There were two tough moments in this 24 Hours: the first was when car number 50 dropped out of the battle for the podium because of a stone that punctured the radiator. But even though it caused us to drop several positions, we didn’t give up and managed to recover during the night. The other moment was the final pit stop for the number 51: these were incredibly tense moments because the car wouldn’t start, but we were ready because we had prepared the back-up procedure and everything went well”.
Amato Ferrari, fondatore AF Corse: “We are living a special moment, just as we imagined would be possible. Wonderful work has been done over the last eleven months. Ferrari believed in this project and helped us a lot and they put together a working group that integrated with our people. And this is the result.
The drivers were a definite choice, as we had worked with all of them, and they were intentionally confirmed because we know their qualities. With this result, we improved on the opening race at Sebring, which started with a pole position and got better until we had a car that was more and more reliable and competitive.”