This is it: the brand-new Ferrari Le Mans Hypercar

By topgear, 01 November 2022

This is it: the brand-new Ferrari Le Mans Hypercar

Ferrari racing cars that share roots with its road cars. Seems like a product of another time, doesn’t it? To be able to find the same basic engine in a road-going Ferrari as you would in its endurance racing cars feels like it’s something from a bygone era. 

And yet the 499P you see here has a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 – the same architecture as the 296 GT3 and the 296 GTB road car the GT3 racer is based on. We’re not naïve enough to suggest that every single part hasn’t been tweaked, optimised or flat-out replaced with something forged from unobtanium, but there’s a real link there that neither Ferrari – or endurance racing in general – have had for quite some time. 

As you might expect by... y’know, looking at it, not everything has its roots so firmly planted in Ferrari’s road-going cars – the 499P’s carbon-fibre monocoque is bespoke, as is its pushrod suspension, bodywork and aero. But of course it’s bespoke; it’s a race car. Even in series like GT3, where manufacturers reaaaally try to link the road and race cars, you’d rather struggle to fit parts from one to the other. 

You could, of course, draw tenuous parallels if you were so inclined – the 296 GTB is a hybrid, so is the 499P – but the realities are rather more perpendicular. The 499P’s engine is a stressed member (no giggling, now) and sends its 660-odd horsepower to the rear wheels exclusively. The front axle, on the other hand, runs off a standalone 268bhp electric motor/generator, which charges a 900-volt battery by a KERS system alone. 

The 499 will compete in the Le Mans Hypercar or LMH class, which replaced the old LMP1 for reasons which are probably extraordinarily interesting. In any case, it’s the new top tier of endurance racing, centred around balance of performance and development tokens and yes we’re definitely still listening; it’s fascinating. 

In any case, we’ll see a Ferrari in top-tier endurance racing for the first time in about half a century, when it takes to Sebring in March 2023. That’ll make the 499P the first Ferrari endurance racer in the premier ‘road racing’ series since the early Seventies... or the last time there was an energy crisis, tanking British economy and massive inflation. So, fingers crossed for the upcoming Pink Floyd album, or what? 

TEXT Craig Jamieson

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