Sources are indicating that the return of a Ferrari LMP1 car to Le Mans could be happening.
You’ve probably heard the rumor of a Ferrari LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype) entry enough times to want to not hear it anymore. Every time you have heard said rumor, you probably began to vomit like you drank a full bottle of tequila and decided you also wanted a gallon of spoiled milk. As reported by Sportscar365, Ferrari could be confirming their return to the top tier of the World Endurance Championship (which is LMP1, currently).
There’s possibility that this rumor might be true as evidence of a possible LMP1 version of their LaFerrari surfaced back in November.
Many thought, and still think actually, that the car in the video was nothing more than a LaFerrari workhorse used to test out their new Formula 1 V6 turbo engine ahead of official pre-season testing to get real-time data as early as possible. The reveal for their 2014 Formula 1 competitor was in February of this year, which would make sense from a timeline standpoint.
But if that were the case, why not shoehorn it into something less.. expensive to develop – like a California? Why a LaFerrari? And why add a huge rear spoiler as well as more and more aero bits a few months after if you’re only testing the Engine and Motor Generator Unit?
In the past, Ferrari has gone on record with being interested in using an adaptation of their F1 engine in the World Endurance Championship. This new Ferrari LMP1, though, will most likely use the full hybrid powertrain instead of just the engine itself as Audi, Toyota, and Porsche currently use hybrid LMP1 powertrains. If this Ferrari LMP1 effort really is happening, expect the Ferrari LMP1 project to be a full factory-backed effort and not just another factory engine put into an outsourced chassis/tub car, as stated in the Autosport article.
If a Ferrari LMP1 competitor does surface and make its return to the top-tier class of Le Mans, that could mean that Mercedes AMG might not be far behind with returning to LMP action as well to help develop their Formula 1 powertrain. That being said, it’s not like Ferrari have abandoned the WEC altogether since their last attempt at competing in the prototype class. They’re active in the GT class with their 458 GT3/2/E but haven’t been active in the top LMP tiers in, well, forever!
The last time Ferrari was involved in any way with Le Mans Prototypes was with the above car: the 333SP. The 333SP’s chassis and tub was built first by Dallara until 1997 when Michelotto took over from then on. Ferrari mostly concentrated on developing the Ferrari F310E 3997 engine; an engine based on the Ferrari Tipo 038 V12 used in the 1992 Ferrari F92A Formula 1 car; the same engine the Ferrari F50’s engine is based from! The 333SP first saw action in the 1994 IMSA GT Championship doing pretty well that year. But because of, well, a lack of support from Ferrari in the later on years of its lifespan, it faded from existence at the turn of the century.
The return of Ferrari LMP1 could possibly be confirmed as soon as this Saturday, prior to the start of the 82nd running of the 24 hours of Le Mans at Circuit De La Sarthe.