Fun to race. Fun to win.
The Ferrari 296 GT3 is an innovative project, on and off the track, that the Prancing Horse manufacturer decided to develop to continue a winning tradition dating back to 1949 when the 166MM triumphed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is a new approach in terms of design, car management at all stages of a race weekend, electronics, and even the engine architecture, a 120° turbocharged 6-cylinder.
A new concept built to meet the needs of teams, professional drivers and gentleman drivers, on whom Ferrari has always focused. This car has been meticulously designed in every detail and from every angle, in compliance with the new GT3 regulations. It inherits the winning legacy of the 488 GT3 while intent on writing new pages in the Prancing Horse’s motorsport history.
The Ferrari 296 GT3 picks up the legacy of the 488 GT3, which, in its standard and Evo 2020 configurations, has won more than one hundred titles since its debut, with almost five hundred race victories, an extraordinary achievement making it the most successful Ferrari ever.
Facing up to this list of triumphs is not just a challenge that Ferrari Competizioni GT designers and engineers must meet. It is an inexhaustible reservoir of experience and technical solutions to draw on and, indeed, to which to give new forms. While the 488 GT3 is its forerunner, the 296 GT3 borrows from history by reintroducing a mid-rear-mounted V6 engine like the 246 SP that won the Targa Florio in 1961 and repeated the feat the following year.
However, in terms of style the 296 GTB, from which this GT3 is derived, clearly refers to the 250 LM (the abbreviation for Le Mans). Despite its racing career suffering from not being homologated as a GT, this model scored major victories such as at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965 (Maranello’s last overall win in this race), and was also very successful with private racing teams.
Once again, Maranello’s past inspires and moulds its future.
The 296 GT3 was developed on some of the world’s most challenging tracks to set the highest reliability and performance standards. It underwent aerodynamic tests, tyre tests and performance sessions. The new car was submitted to the critical judgement of the official Ferrari Competizioni GT drivers.
The 296 GT3 was developed with extreme use in mind, typical of the “Pro” classes where victory is the ultimate goal, and for gentlemen drivers, for whom racing is first and foremost about having fun. The entire project concept emerged in 2020 and went live with with the first CFD simulations and simulator models.
Then came the indoor testing, which defined the car’s aerodynamic shape in the wind tunnel, the bench-tuning of the engine and rigidity testing the vehicle chassis. The car finally completed the toughest endurance tests in Maranello’s 4WD Dyno.
Since the first shakedown at the Fiorano track on 12 April 2022, the new Ferrari has completed tens of thousands of kilometres preparing it for racing, the toughest challenge of all.
In a rapidly changing world, the 296 GT3 fits in with Ferrari’s strategy aiming for a sustainable future, even in the world of racing. With this in mind, the six-cylinder engine not only has lower fuel consumption than the 488 GT3 power unit but has also been developed to be compatible with the new biofuels used in the world’s leading GT3 series.
Ferrari is doing everything to improve the sustainability of its facilities, cars and activities, as attested by the ISO 20121 Certificates for the Ferrari Challenge Europe and the Mugello Circuit, plus the Sustainable Endurance Award rewarding sustainability-related programmes implemented by manufacturers and teams participating in the World Endurance Championship.
The result is a perfect blend between performance and aesthetic demands because a Ferrari must always be recognisable, whether on the road or the world’s most important and prestigious circuits.
This is why the car’s design, minus the aerodynamic devices or features specific to the racing version, has retained its connection to the production model. The design of the latter already refers back to vehicles such as the 250 LM of 1963, a perfect combination of simplicity and functionality.
The distinctive stylistic elements of the 296 GTB, such as the seamless optimisation of volumes to achieve a clean and elegant design, were retained and accentuated, underscoring the inextricable marriage of technology and aesthetics that is the signature of all Ferraris.
The interior of the 296 GT3 was designed to meet the drivers’ needs. It provides excellent ergonomics and minimises the time taken to operate the controls mounted on the centre console and steering wheel. Intuitiveness, visibility and accessibility are critical to the development of the cabin design without neglecting essential aspects such as safety and comfort. In endurance racing, performance depends on these features, particularly for gentleman drivers.
The cabin was completely redesigned over the 488 GT3, based on the input from factory drivers and racing customers. The result is a cockpit that allows its occupant to quickly and effectively find the best driving position, with the main functions always within easy reach. Many controls and functions have moved to the new Formula 1 single seater-inspired steering wheel, while the position of the Sabelt seat provides optimal visibility, both day and night.
It also adds a new level of comfort for drivers of different sizes and statures who can use the adjustable pedals and steering to find their best position in the car.
The air conditioning system and airflow inside the cabin were designed to provide adequate ventilation in all conditions, helping the driver to concentrate during every stage of a race.
The compact steering wheel, inspired by Formula 1 single-seaters, benefits from the experience gained in GT racing and the valuable feedback received from the Maranello manufacturer’s professionals and the gentlemen drivers who race the Prancing Horse cars.
The outcome is a steering wheel designed so the driver can manage the car’s principal dynamics settings with quick and easy movements. Using the “manettini” (selectors) in the centre of the crown, the driver can adjust the ABS set-up and the engine power delivery, optimising the response to match the asphalt and weather conditions.
At the same time, the side buttons enable access to other functions. They allow the driver to switch on the radio link to the garage or set the speed limiter when entering the pit lane for a pit stop.
Two crucial factors that can influence the final result are communication between pit and driver and understanding the technical information provided during a race.
This is why the 296 GT3 features technologically advanced displays, which mean that the driver doesn’t need to take their eyes off the track to have a clear real-time view of the car’s behaviour, lap times, and functions activated or deactivated.
The Bosch monitor, the practical support for this interaction between man and machine, is a high-resolution digital dashboard above the steering wheel that displays the most valuable data. This includes speed, the gear engaged and engine revs, plus the more technical data that is vital for the driver.
The car’s electronic “brain” provides the times logged on the current and previous lap. The display also shows the tyre pressure and warnings the pit wall sends to the driver.
The buttons that manage many functions and settings are housed in a single panel in the centre of the dashboard, facing the driver, with four different colours chosen so the controls are also organised visually.
The centre console is the interface used by professional and gentleman drivers to manage the ECU mappings, switching between dry and wet track condition set-up modes.
One of the many possible interventions is a direct reference to road cars. You can switch the 296 GT3’s air conditioning system on and off using the dedicated controls.
This is an invaluable ally during summer endurance races that place a heavy physical strain on the cabin’s occupants.
The 296 GT3 marks the return to the track of a six-cylinder-engined Ferrari even though, in compliance with technical regulations, it doesn’t have the electric unit featured in the 296 GTB. A 120° vee configuration with equally-spaced firings was introduced for the 296 GT3’s V6 combustion engine. This is based on its road-going twin, as is the positioning of the turbos inside the vee. All this brings significant benefits in terms of compactness, lower centre of gravity and reduced mass, and also helps to achieve very high power levels.
The architecture is a winner in terms of firing order, integration of the intake manifolds and engine mounts on the intake sides of the cylinder heads: The engine is lighter and more compact having eliminated the external plenums and supports. Its internal fluid dynamics benefit from the reduction in volume, boosting intake efficiency.
To that end, Ferrari poured all of its significant expertise in alloys, dimensioning and components into engineering the aluminium engine block and cylinder heads, both entirely new and designed specifically for the V6 architecture. The engine benefited from Ferrari’s latest combustion chamber developments to improve the fuel-air mix in the chamber, with obvious performance benefits.
The turbochargers use higher-performance alloys. This meant the maximum revs of the turbos could be increased to 180,000 rpm, improving performance and boosting efficiency by 24%. The symmetrical, counter-rotating turbos are of the mono-scroll type; the technical solutions adopted have reduced the compressor wheel diameter by 5% and the turbo rotor by 11% compared to the V8 applications, reducing the spool-up time and ensuring instantaneous power delivery.
Ferrari’s engineers worked with those of its partners to design and fine-tune all the engine’s internal fluid dynamics and the specific components adopted for the track version of the power unit.
They aimed to provide uncompromising performance, reliability and driveability for both ‘Sprint’ and ‘Endurance’ races.
For this type of competition, they did everything to limit consumption significantly without sacrificing performance, aiming for more flexible race strategies and reduced intervention times.
For example, the alternator is attached to the gearbox to improve the unit's compactness and rigidity and make it easier for technicians to access.
On-track performance must be accompanied by the car’s reliability and that of its individual components.
The engine, chassis and every component of the 296 GT3 must meet the most stringent fatigue and stress analysis criteria. The 296 GT3 underwent prolonged and intensive simulation sessions using the most advanced dynamic systems for both engine and chassis to achieve the very high standards set by Ferrari.
As well as the meticulous quality control carried out directly at the suppliers’ premises, the 296 GT3 was subject to numerous tests on Europe’s most demanding circuits. The official Ferrari Competizioni GT drivers put the car through its paces to test the reslience of the car and its parts.
Indeed, reliability is one of Ferrari’s hallmarks in GT3 racing and beyond.
The car’s already vast range of standard equipment can be enriched with a series of parts – such as those for endurance racing – capable of meeting all the demands of drivers or teams using it in major championships, for which specific data acquisition systems are available.
Always at the driver’s service, this tool can be personalised to different levels of implementation and analysis for an increasingly professional use of telemetry, which, in the 296 GT3, can – on request – be sent to the pits in real-time.
Other optional equipment includes different seat sizes and dimensions, rear radar, carbon-fibre clutch, TPMS or IRTPMS systems for measuring tyre temperature and pressure, and additional twenty-four-hour high beams.
The 296 GT3 is the result of an comprehensive aerodynamic research began already in the concept phase of the 296 GTB that was developed with the challenge of the track usage and competition in mind.
The aerodynamics has been calibrated with sophisticated CFD simulations supported by advanced systems and in the wind tunnel, covered every possible operating condition.
The Ferrari engineers have been able to define an aerodynamic configuration within the homologation performance window by reducing ride height sensitivities with the aim of improving handling and driveability.
The Ferrari engineers sought to create an aerodynamic configuration capable of operating within the homologation parameters, reducing sensitivity to trim variations to benefit the car’s speed, handling and predictability. This precise and detailed work on the shapes yielded a gain of 20% in downforce on the car over the previous generation. From this perspective, the 296 GT3 lives in symbiosis with the air around it, exploiting it to maximise grip and handling, benefiting gentlemen drivers and professionals alike.
The challenge met by the designers was to limit the car’s sensitivity to the forces generated by aerodynamics, reducing displacement of the downforce at the front end by 20% and at the rear by 40% for a given variation in rake, to provide an extraordinary balance for the benefit of driveability and driver confidence.
The geometry of all the components, from the body to the wing appendages, was designed in detail under varying operating conditions and in mutual aerodynamic interaction to optimise performance and make it robust in different racing contexts, also when in the slipstream of other cars. From the front splitter to the rear extractor, which has a diffusor with a sophisticated three-dimensional design, the 296 GT3 stands out through a refined design that aims to achieve the lowest possible drag.
While the 296 GT3 chassis draws on the experience of the 488 GT3, it is a brand new design. In its design, Ferrari engineers wanted to retain some of the features that made the 488 GT3 the benchmark in GT3 racing. These include superb handling and the ability to adapt to various circuits. Besides being extremely easy and fun to drive, the 296 GT3 can exploit the grip potential offered by the tyres without compromising their integrity in just a few laps, benefiting performance and repeatability. The chassis’ extreme lightness, which in the 296 GT3 also allows better and more efficient ballast management, contributes to this.
The safety structure has been carefully designed using the most sophisticated simulations and innovative technologies and research, especially in alloys and materials. The chassis is coupled with a carbon-fibre body and an aluminium roof. Finally, each component is designed for easy vehicle maintenance, whether routine or extraordinary and quick access to parts or services essential for operation. Maximum effort went into the chassis design, incorporating all the necessary measures to make it easier to adapt to any regulatory changes.
If the 296 GTB was developed around the concept of driving pleasure and enjoyment, the GT3 version had to accentuate these characteristics, translating them into racing. For a car also intended for gentleman drivers, driveability and handling on circuits worldwide were essential design requirements. The 296 GT3 has a longer wheelbase than its road-going counterpart, within the regulatory limits, and a different suspension design to the 488 GT3, with dedicated kinematics and structures. The double wishbone a new double wishbone suspension design have been made in order to increase the handling of the car without penalising tire wear, performance and consistency.
The suspension, like the anti-roll bars, features the widest possible range of settings providing drivers with the best possible setup. The braking system was also revised and upgraded, with newly designed callipers and discs (now 400 mm at the front). However, the forged wheels of the 296 GT3, developed and homologated exclusively by Rotiform for this model, are entirely new.
The gearbox plays an essential role in the success of any racing car. The gearbox of the 296 GT3 is new and specially developed for this car. The designers opted for a single-disc clutch unit with six gears, arranged transversely for better aerodynamics and weight distribution. As already seen with the 488 GT3, this solution improves the car’s handling and offers many more configurations for engineers.
Clutch actuation is now electronic and can be controlled from the steering wheel, rather than mechanical via the foot pedal, while the gear change is electrically actuated. The miniaturisation of the components and the use of premium materials made it possible to keep the weight of the Xtrac gearbox down, benefiting performance.
The 296 GT3’s electronics were extensively revised from the 488 GT3. The control hardware and software are specific to this car and feature state-of-the-art components and programmes developed for the racing world. The heart of the electronic system is the Bosch Motorsport MS7 control unit with multiple injection, extensively customised by Ferrari engineers with a particular focus on the engine control software.
The integration of the various units via high-speed CAN communications makes the controls very precise and responsive to the driver who uses the steering wheel to control multiple car parameters, interacting with it in real-time. Whether it be traction control, ABS, information on the new dashboard or the new rear camera that transmits high-definition images including information on potential overtaking by rivals to one of the three monitors in the 296 GT3, the driver sits at the centre of a universe where the car and its control units simultaneously manage millions of parameters and data in fractions of a second. These can be analysed after the practice sessions or the race using a data acquisition system to improve the car’s performance and setup.
From this point of view, it is easier to modify the 296 GT3’s setup than the previous model due to more accessible mechanical and elastic components. Operations related to checks on the engine or major accessory systems were also significantly improved to cut intervention time on the car.
However, the new Ferrari also differs significantly from its rivals in terms of replacing significant parts of the car. The front and rear portions can be switched in seconds due to a series of devices and solutions that ensure a quick return to the track after any damage affecting aerodynamics or performance.
In a closely fought race, typical of GT3 competitions, even small fractions of a second saved in the pits can decide the outcome.
Historically, the Maranello manufacturer focuses its thoughts, initiatives and attention on the customer.
Purchasing a 296 GT3 offers access to a unique world of services arising from the special relationship between Ferrari and its customers, whether drivers or teams.
For example, assistance may be more than just the supply of spare parts. It can extend to consulting the Prancing Horse’s technicians and engineers, both during preparation and on circuits around the world, and even to official drivers who, on request, can be involved in sports programmes.
Therefore, customers gain access to skills and experience, enabling them to exploit the car’s full potential in all conditions.
On-track assistance also covers the spare parts service, which, in the major championships, always supports the teams fielding the 296 GT3 on the starting grid.