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WEC Sebring

Ferrari didn’t expect to fight Toyota for WEC Sebring win

Ferrari didn’t expect to challenge Toyota in Friday’s World Endurance Championship season-opener at Sebring despite starting from pole position.

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

The Italian manufacturer has revealed it already knew its 499P Le Mans Hypercar would be unable to match the race pace of the Toyota LMHs that ended up finishing 1-2 before the start of the 1000-mile fixture.

Ferrari sportscar racing technical boss Ferdinando Cannizzo explained after the race that Ferrari was happy with third place for pole winner Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen behind the two Toyotas GR010 HYBRIDs on the debut of the 499P.

“After the pole, we knew the race would be a different story,” said Cannizzo. “The pole was just an indication that the job we’ve done so far is quite excellent, but at the same time we knew very well that it was just a step.

“A podium was a good result; this was the most we could achieve in our opinion.”

Cannizzo explained that the Ferrari AF Corse factory squad had achieved its goals for the first race of the Italian manufacturer’s factory return to top-flight sportscar racing after an absence of 50 years.

“Two cars without problems was our first target, second target was the podium — this happened,” he said. “We have to be happy with our first race.”

Ferrari sportscar boss Antonello Coletta backed up Cannizzo’s statements.

“We surpassed the goals we had set ourselves, considering that we wanted a podium finish, and to this, we added a splendid pole position,” he said. “We are happy and, at the same time, aware that we have a long way to go.”

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Cannizzo said Toyota “proved the value of experience” on the way to finishing two laps up on the Ferrari with both its cars at the end of a race that went the full eight-hour duration.

“We definitely need to collect more experience, analyse the data and see what we can do better,” he explained. “There are things we can improve; this is something we expected.”

The third-placed Ferrari and the sister car that finished a delayed 15th overall behind eight LMP2s struggled in traffic and on tyre wear in comparison to the Toyota, Cannizzo said.

“What we found very difficult was being in the traffic,” he explained.

“We can definitely improve in terms of tyre degradation: we were struggling in the last part of the second stint [on a set of Michelins].”

Read Also:

The second Ferrari shared by Antonio Giovinazzi, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado was 11 laps down on the Toyotas in seventh position in the Hypercar class at the chequered flag after losing 19 minutes in the pits.

The car required suspension repairs after light contact with a GTE Am Ferrari in Turn 15, which resulted in him spinning into a Porsche GT car at the following corner.

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