Ferrari has released the first preview image of its upcoming prototype hypercar Le Mans challenger, which will mark the return of the Prancing Horse to the famous 24-hour race for the first time in 50 years in 2023.
The image gives little away about the look of the LMH-class racer, but it is the first visual confirmation of the project for which “the countdown is on” ahead of the 2023 endurance race, according to Ferrari’s official racing Instagram account.
Antonella Coletta, head of Competizioni GT at Ferrari, told Autocar that the pressure was on Ferrari immediately to win at Le Mans. In 2023, “our dream is to win”, he said, “but unfortunately, that’ll be the dream of the other competitors! First of all, we need the best car and the best solutions, but the target from the first race is the victory, of course.”
Confirming the car had been in development for 18 months, he added: “Coming with a prototype was a dream, but now it’s a reality. Our next dream is an overall win, with the best technology we can put on the track. We have pressure but we have a good staff who work well. Ferrari has a massive pressure every day. This is another important challenge we have, but we’re ready for this.”
Coletta said Ferrari was drawn to the new LMH category of Le Mans and sports car racing, where it will compete alongside the likes of Toyota and Peugeot, because the open regulations allowed it to build all the major components in the car, including the chassis, engine, gearbox, suspension and electronics.
LMH cars will also be able to compete against the LMDh cars that BMW and Porsche are developing, rules that include far more spec parts, but balance of performance regulations will allow LMDh and LMH cars to race at the front of the Le Mans grid, a race Ferrari last won outright in 1965.
“We need to fight together, and the main thing for me is the stability of the rules,” said Coletta. “The key to success is the rules of the championship. We’re confident for this that the rules will be consistent for this championship and will be a very good base. It’s the first time we’re all together.”
LMH rules allow for either a prototype racer or a model developed from a road car. Ferrari has adopted the former approach, and Coletta said that “honestly, there are not even that many parts” in the LMH car from any Ferrari road car. “But LMH is a good place to start parts for the future,” he added.
“It’s a good laboratory, and we have good experience from the past,” said Coletta, about previous race to road experiences, while he’s “sure my staff has ideas that we can put on the car that will be good for the future [road cars]”.
Coletta said he expects the new hypercar to make its race debut next March ahead of its Le Mans debut next June. The project is currently in development at Maranello in Ferrari’s racing HQ, where Coletta’s team of 115, which also looks after its GT racing programme and the soon-to-launch Ferrari 296 GTS, is integrated among the Formula 1 team.
There has been no big recruitment drive among the GT racing team to realise the new hypercar, Coletta said, because he “prefers to grow with a little number”. He added: “If you grow too much, you lose control of the staff. Having not many people is easier control.”
There’s no news yet on who will drive the new hypercar for Ferrari, but Brit James Calado, who races in the GTE Pro category for Ferrari, said there is “a chance” he could drive it, but it is “up to Antonella [Coletta]”. He added: “We’ve been developing this car for a long time, and have done lots of sim work. We’ve been busy.”