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WEC Bahrain

Ferrari 'proud' of Bahrain WEC podium with third-best car

Ferrari says it can be ‘proud’ to have delivered a World Endurance Championship podium in Bahrain with a car that was at best the third-fastest on the grid.

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

The Italian manufacturer closed out its first season in the Hypercar class with a third-place result in the Bahrain 8 Hours, with the #50 499P of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen securing the best-of-the-rest spot behind the dominant Toyota GR010 HYBRID LMH cars.

Ferrari didn’t have the speed to keep up with the Toyotas or the Jota Porsche 963 LMDh out front as the race reached two-thirds distance, but a penalty for Jota's Antonio Felix da Costa put the lead Ferrari crew in a position to snatch third.

Nielsen came under severe pressure from da Costa’s team-mate Will Stevens in the closing stages, but kept the Jota driver behind to clinch Ferrari’s sixth podium in seven rounds in 2023.

Speaking after the race, Ferrari’s sportscar technical director Ferdinando Cannizzo credited the team for achieving an unlikely podium in the season finale, explaining how it was able to compensate for the car’s weaknesses on track.

“We never give up,” said Cannizzo. “It was a very difficult race for us. It was tough because we were not the fastest car, not the second-fastest.

PLUS: The "intense" issues Toyota navigated for WEC title glory in Bahrain

“But we are even prouder for the results because we were able to play with the strategy in a way that we get the podium.

“We will not get nervous, we will keep calm. [We] really look at the last lap of the race [to see] what we can do to grab the podium with a car which was not the fastest.

“You saw on track how easily we have been overtook sometimes.

Ferrari's #50 crew joined the Toyota drivers on the podium

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Ferrari's #50 crew joined the Toyota drivers on the podium

“So we are trying to understand [by] working hard in these two days how we can manage our pace, our set-up, our pitstops, our energy, everything in a way that will give us the possibility to beat the other guys even though they were faster than us on single lap in one stint.”

Cannizzo felt Ferrari was the strongest of any team when it came to tyre degradation, a result of the extra effort it put in for the Bahrain finale after a disappointing showing at Fuji in September.

“I think we were the best car in tyre degradation because if you see the trace, we were able to manage properly with very, very consistent laptimes from lap one to the last lap of the stint, even the second stint,” he said.

“If we had a different set-up, we prepared it for today. We worked really hard because we knew that this race was [going to be] very, very difficult for us.

“So we did work hard to understand how we could even improve and manage a track like that where the asphalt is really aggressive for the tyres to not to have any degradation.

“Our cars were very good on the tyres. This was definitely due to the fact how we managed the tyres and how we set up the car, that was a little bit different than the other races.”

The two Ferraris came to blows in the penultimate hour as Alessandro Pier Guidi and Fuoco battled for position after their respective pitstops, with the latter coming out on top in their scrap.

The #51 499P of Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi eventually faded to sixth, behind Jota's Porsche as well as the #6 Porsche Penske 963.

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

Photo by: Ferrari

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

A suspension issue was found to have been the root cause of Pier Guidi’s mysterious drop in pace in the final part of the race.

“We had a kind of issue on the rear dampers on car #51," revealed Cannizzo. "We still have to understand but at some point the shock absorbers were losing the characteristics.

“We have to analyse but I think it was on the rear axle, so we don't know yet because [we have] not opened the car, but it was some problem related to the shock absorber that happened there.

“Maybe we lost the gas, I don't know. But he was not able to get the right grip specifically on the rear. He was struggling.”

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