The Ferrari 499P number 50’s calling card was a pole position in its FIA WEC debut, clocking the fastest qualifying time in round one at Sebring. Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, and Nicklas Nielsen repeated this result at Le Mans, taking the Hyperpole. These results, along with the four season podiums, gave the crew third place in the standings of the Drivers’ championship and contributed to Ferrari’s runner-up spot in the Manufacturers’ championship.
“Sebring and Le Mans will always be two special weekends for me,” said Fuoco, whose qualifying laps earned him first place on the grid in the USA and France. “In America, we showed up with a Ferrari prototype after half a century. There were many unknowns because we faced competitors for the first time, and starting first in the race was a good way to kick off. All the spotlights were on us at Le Mans. When I stepped out of the 499P with pole position in my ‘pocket’, I was really elated.”
The driver, whose sporting education took place at the Ferrari Driver Academy, managed to extract the full potential of the Prancing Horse Hypercar. What was the secret? “I admit the ‘hot’ lap has never been my strong point, but this year we worked hard on every aspect of qualifying, and I improved a lot, as I did in race pace,” explained the 27-year-old driver. 2024? Considering the increased number of Hypercars, it will be an even more complex season, so starting from the front could prove even more decisive.”
Competing in endurance is an exercise entailing not only a quest for the best performance but also excellent interaction with teammates, as Molina pointed out: “The concept of teamwork is essential. With Antonio, we had already gained experience in 2022, finishing the year in the FIA WEC with a victory in Bahrain in the Ferrari 488 GTE. So this year, it was a matter of continuing a path already embarked upon and improving it further.” The 34-year-old Spanish driver added: “However, I was just starting with Nicklas, and we immediately struck up an excellent understanding. The balance within the crew, for both the 499P number 50 and the 51, is an essential key enabling us to express the car’s potential.”
For Nielsen, the red ‘tide’ under the podium at Monza was one of the most exciting images of the year when, in midsummer, the drivers of the 499P number 50 finished second in the fifth round of the season. “We felt the warmth of the 65,000 spectators in the stands, many of whom, kitted out in red, waved flags with the Prancing Horse emblazoned on them,” recalled the 26-year-old Dane. “It was a great joy to race a Ferrari on the most famous and historic Italian circuit and witness that final track invasion.”