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Fuoco was blinded by sun on way to Ferrari WEC Sebring pole

Ferrari driver Antonio Fuoco revealed he was blinded by the sun in the final corner as he took pole position for Friday’s World Endurance Championship season-opener at Sebring. 

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Fuoco explained that he couldn’t see through the fast and bumpy Turn 17 horseshoe and had to rely on his reference points to the side of the circuit as he completed the lap that gave the #50 Ferrari 499P pole for the Sebring 1000 Miles by two tenths of a second. 

“If I’m honest, in the last corner, I just sent it in, because I had the feeling it was a good lap,” said the Italian. 

“I had the sun on my visor and it was quite tricky to see the corner, but I had my reference points from free practice.

“I had a big moment on the bumps, but in the end it worked out."

Fuoco’s pole lap of 1m45.067s bettered the 1m45.364s from Brendon Hartley in the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, which the New Zealander subsequently improved to 1m45.281s.

The time by the Ferrari driver represented a gain of 1.7s over the previous best for the 499P, which Fuoco set on a simulated qualification run during final free practice earlier in the day. 

He explained that the lower temperatures during the 15-minute Hypercar qualifying session held as the sun was going down on Thursday evening and fewer cars on track were crucial in the improvement. 

“The temperature were dropping quite fast; we improved quite a lot through the track conditions,” he said.  

“We tried [a qually sim] this morning, but in free practice it is quite hard to find a free lap. In qualifying we showed our potential and put everything together, and it was enough.” 

#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

Fuoco admitted to feeling a sense of pride after claiming a surprise pole position for Ferrari ahead of the Toyotas that had dominated through free practice and last weekend’s pre-season Prologue test. 

Insight: How Toyota's new WEC challengers are shaping up

“I am bit surprised because what we achieved is something amazing and we should be proud of this,” he said. 

“We put the car on track only in July; the amount of work everyone have done is quite impressive.” 

Fuoco stressed the need for the factory Ferrari AF Corse team to “switch our mindset” ahead of the race. 

“We know that tomorrow will be a long race,” he said. “It will be quite hot, which will be crucial for the tyre degradation."

The Sebring 1000 Miles starts at 12:00 local time on Friday.

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