Ferrari at the eve of return to Le Mans
It seems that the 24 hours of Le Mans is working its way up to the same status it once had many years ago. This might be the very reason for why Ferrari is now looking into whether they could/should compete in the race in 2015 (or 2016) with a factory ‘LMP1’-car. This rumor is pretty much confirmed by what we saw recently at AutoEdizione; images of a LaFerrari with a different engine.
It might just be the testing phase for an LMP1-engine. Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is said to have mentioned something similar during the Christmas celebration at Maranello a few weeks ago as well. The fact that Ferrari is forced to compete with a strong ‘beverage can brand’ in the F1 is something that bothers the chairman. The brand from Maranello is also struggling with the regulations the F1 is more and more implying. The new budget ceiling will furthermore have as a result that less people will be needed within the F1-teams, yet another reason for why Ferrari might get the opportunity to focus on an LMP1-car and compete in the World Endurance Championship. New pictures were taken recently at Fiorano (see pictures) of an LMP1-ish LaFerrari with V8 turbo engine and a hybrid drivetrain. According to the latest reports, it is to make its debut at Le Mans next year (2015).
Ferrari disposes of quite a few people who are capable of developing such a vehicle, too. Marc Gene, test driver of the F1-team, was closely involved in the development of the Peugeot 908 LMP1 HDI FAP. And then there’s this; Porsche makes its return to Le Mans this year with a new car. Those who are even slightly familiar with the history of these two brands should already know enough and understand that this must be a huge incentive for Ferrari.
One of the new drivers of the Porsche 919 LMP1-car, ex Red Bull F1-driver Mark Webber, already announced via Twitter that Ferrari is indeed working on an LMP1-vehicle. He also revealed the drivers; Fernando Alonso, Valentino Rossi and Marc Gene. This means the second car might very well go to Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni and Kobayashi.
The last time the Prancing Horse competed in the LMP1-series was with the super quick Ferrari 333 SP (picture above). The Dutchman Arie Luyendijk won the 24 hours of Daytona in 1998 with the MOMO-team in this very car. The only difference is that the 333 SP was run by private teams, while this new Ferrari LMP1-car will certainly be a factory project. The last time Ferrari drove the 24 hours of Le Mans as a factory team was back in 1973 with the Ferrari 312PB.