Ferrari brings first technology update for race in Sao Paulo

Ferrari is gearing up in the fight for the WEC World Championship. Before the race in Sao Paulo next weekend (July 12-14, 2024), the Italians have used so-called jokers anchored in the regulations to improve the performance of their 499P prototypes. The racing cars from Maranello, which most recently took first and third place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, are receiving their first update since the race premiere in 2023.

In Interlagos, the two factory Ferraris and the private entry from AF Corse will be racing with newly designed brake cooling ducts to change the flow distribution and ensure better cooling efficiency, especially on tracks that place greater demands on the braking system. The Autodromo Carlos Pace in Brazil, with its demanding track layout, is just the right place for the endurance test.

Technical changes at Ferrari before WEC race in Sao Paulo

A visible change to the 499P is the introduction of a small spoiler or flick under the headlights. The engineers have also reworked the underbody and adjusted the height of some Gurney flaps. For cost reasons, technical changes to the WEC hypercars, which are homologated until 2029, are only possible to a limited extent and are much less common than in Formula 1, for example.

“Despite the excellent performance of the car in the 2023 season, we have identified limitations in brake cooling,” said Ferrari’s endurance chief Ferdinando Cannizzo. “As a result, we have developed a new cooling air duct design in the wind tunnel and on the track to change the flow distribution and achieve greater efficiency. We do not expect improvements in lap times, but greater versatility and easier adaptation of the car on tracks where braking performance is crucial.”

After Le Mans victory: Ferrari wants to reach for world championship title

Such updates must be announced with a certain amount of advance notice to the WEC organiser ACO and the FIA. The recent successes in Le Mans apparently inspired Ferrari to introduce the innovations at the fifth of eight races of the season. Sports car boss Antonello Coletta made no secret of this: “The triumph in France prompted us to accelerate the introduction of the first update to our car for the race in Interlagos.”

For the WEC comeback in Sao Paulo, the Ferraris were given a full 17 additional kilograms and, at 1,060 kilograms, are now just as heavy as the Toyota (+7 kg). All manufacturers except Lamborghini and Isotta Fraschini (-18 kg) had to add weight. Ferrari lost 5 kW in engine power and, at 503 kW, has slightly less power than Toyota (506 kW). The Porsches were given 9 additional kilos on board (1,051 kg) and run at 512 kW (+1 kW).

Ferrari is in second place in the manufacturers’ championship with 99 points. Leader Porsche has so far collected 108 points with its two factory 963s. With the double podium finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where double world championship points are awarded, the Italians have gained 25 points in one fell swoop. Otherwise, of the nine manufacturers, only Toyota (96 points) has a realistic chance of winning the world championship title.

WEC table: Porsche leads ahead of Ferrari and Toyota

The situation is similar in the drivers’ table: The #6 Penske Porsche with Andre Lotterer, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor is in the lead with 99 points. The Le Mans-winning #50 Ferrari of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen is in second place overall with 90 points. Third place goes to Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries from the #7 Toyota, who had to do without their injured teammate Mike Conway in Le Mans. The Brit has recovered from his bicycle accident and will return to the cockpit of the GR010 Hybrid in Sao Paulo.

These three teams are likely to decide the world championship among themselves, the gap to the rest of the field is large. The WEC is visiting Sao Paulo for the first time since 2014, so there is no data on the current hypercars on the Formula 1 track. There were no test drives beforehand, the preparation took place exclusively in the simulator. Ferrari factory driver Molina: “There are some slow corners, especially in the second and third sectors. Traffic management will be crucial there. We’re doing our best to grab another victory.”

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