In a completely unexpected announcement, Ferrari officially confirmed this past Wednesday its participation in the 2023 World Endurance Championship (WEC), including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Of course, The Prancing Horse car will be racing at the new top category of the championship, Le Mans Hypercars (LMH).
The news has taken the motorsport’s world by storm which for a while had been ruminating on the Red Empire’s ever-increasing distance from the contest. The surprising news has thus turned things upside down for many a specialised motorsports forecaster.
The attractive new category, which is debuting this season in replacement of the LMP1 one, has evidently managed to capture the interest of the Italian giant.
Sharing the grid with the iconic constructor will be other car manufacturing giants such as Porsche, Audi, Toyota, Peugeot and Glickenhaus, all of whom have already confirmed their commitment.
— Ferrari Races (@FerrariRaces) February 24, 2021
As pointed out by the media, Ferrari’s decision could in many ways be considered a milestone for the brand. The legendary team from Maranello has not taken part in the world-famous French endurance race as a factory team since 1973.
Up until then, Ferrari had won non less than nine editions of the race at the historic French track, a great contribution to the narrative of greatness that surrounds the brand.
The red cars have in fact been the protagonists of some of the most thrilling motorsport moments at La Sarthe. Who doesn’t remember, for instance, its epic duels against Ford in the 1960s?
Old records and current triumphs
Ferrari’s most splendorous period at Le Mans took place between 1958 and 1965. During those years they conquered the glory in seven out of the eight races in which they took part. Quite a feat!
When they re-join the championship in 2023, 58 years will have passed since their last victory and judging by their winning spirit they will be ready to give it all in order to reclaim their old glory.
The successes of the 50s and 60s have not been the only ones for Ferrari in France, however. In recent years they have achieved important triumphs in partnership with other teams, the most recent one in 2019 when they won the GTE Pro category at Le Mans with a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo from the AF Corse squad.
The Italian manufacturer has also won the World Endurance title in the LMGTE Pro category four times, including the manufacturers crown in 2017.
— WEC (@FIAWEC) February 24, 2021
Details still unknown
In any case, most of the particulars regarding their participation are still unknown since Ferrari has not further commented on the matter besides confirming its return to the championship in a couple of seasons. Presumably, further details will be released over the next few months.
In the air remains the name of the prototype which is to bring Ferrari back to the Endurance Championship, as well as its intended driver line-up and all other important technicalities. Nevertheless, this is a remarkable agreement for the FIA, the World Endurance Championship and for the world of motorsports itself.
The new era (Le Mans Hypercars), which is due to have its debut on March 19 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring 2021, has suddenly become a lot more attractive in the knowledge that from 2023 it will have Ferrari amongst its ranks.
Opiniones about the Ferrari news
John Elkann, Ferrari President: “In over 70 years of racing, on tracks all over the world, we led our closed-wheel cars to victory by exploring cutting-edge technological solutions: innovations that arise from the track and make every road car produced in Maranello extraordinary”.
“With the new Le Mans Hypercar programme, Ferrari once again asserts its sporting commitment and determination to be a protagonist in the major global motorsport events.”
Jean Todt, FIA President: “The announcement of Ferrari’s commitment to the FIA World Endurance Championship with a Le Mans Hypercar entry from 2023 is great news for the FIA, the ACO and the wider world of motorsport. I believe in the concept of road-relevant Hypercars competing in the FIA WEC and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’m looking forward to seeing this legendary brand taking on this ambitious project.”
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO): “Today is a great day for endurance racing: Ferrari is coming back to the top level, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship. The Hypercar field promises some epic battles”.
“Alongside Ferrari, In 2023, many manufacturers who have already joined us are sure to pull out all the stops to win the race in its centenary year. This is excellent news for a discipline whose rule base forms a solid foundation on which to build a bright future.”
Richard Mille, President of the FIA Endurance Commission: “We took a lot of risks developing the Le Mans Hypercar concept, and a lot of effort and perseverance went into defining the regulations so that they capture the spirit of what we wanted LMH to be, and that is to allow for various philosophies in terms of technical approaches and aesthetics of the cars”.
“Today we can be satisfied with the achieved results, with Ferrari joining other renowned brands. Ferrari has a long and prestigious record in sportscar racing, most recently winning the FIA World Endurance GT Manufacturers’ Championship but also taking multiple overall victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although there’s still a lot of work to be done, we’re already witnessing history being made and in few years’ time the FIA WEC grid should be the strongest ever.”
Frédéric Lequien, CEO of the FIA WEC: “The news that Ferrari is set to join the new Hypercar category is simply amazing. What’s even more incredible is that Ferrari will join at least five other manufacturers to compete in the WEC’s top-tier category from 2023 – the scene is set for an unforgettable period in endurance racing history”.
“We are delighted that our new regulations have attracted so many prestigious automotive brands. Ferrari is a prestigious marque which is synonymous with Hypercar, so I have no doubt that they will be extremely competitive out on track – we are honoured to welcome Ferrari back to the top class of endurance racing.”