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The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, round three of the FIA WEC, ended with the Ferrari 499P crewed by Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi securing its first podium in the Hypercar class. In contrast, the car of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen had to retire following an accident, from which the Italian driver emerged unscathed, less than two hours before the chequered flag.

Wintry weather, wet at the start, prompted the team to mount rain tyres, as did other entries in the Hypercar class. A long Safety Car phase that allowed the track to dry out thwarted this strategy, which would have allowed the two 499Ps, breaking away after an excellent start, to gain precious seconds. Nielsen and Giovinazzi thus had to switch to slicks, effectively changing the race philosophy for the two Ferraris. The two 499Ps took longer than necessary to bring their tyres into the right temperature window, slipping down the standings and finishing one lap behind the race leader. However, thanks to two excellent stints by Molina and Pier Guidi, the two 499Ps managed to unlap and get into the top four positions, despite a Drive Through for the Spaniard and a compulsory stop for a damaged rim following a collision with Giovinazzi at the wheel.

The finale at Spa was packed with different emotions. On the lap after the pit stop, Fuoco lost control of his 499P because the tyres were cold and ended the race early. However, Calado drove a flawless double stint, challenging for third place on the podium, which he achieved after overtaking the number 5 Porsche in an intense last lap. The number 7 Toyota won the race.

Miguel Molina, 499P #50: “The race didn’t end as we’d hoped. We are improving, working very hard, and here at Spa, we proved that we have an excellent pace, although we still have to continue to build up experience in this category. Antonio couldn’t do anything to avoid the situation that occurred on his return to the track. Handling the car in weather like today’s at Spa is very difficult with cold tyres. Antonio shouldn’t worry, and together we will look ahead. We are already thinking about the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the year’s most eagerly anticipated race, where I am sure we can achieve an excellent result.

Alessandro Pier Guidi, 499P #51: “Finally a podium after so much bad luck in the first two races. We needed it also for morale. The race was positive. Unfortunately, the Safety Car came out twice when we were supposed to make a pit stop, and we also had to make two emergency pit stops, which cost us time. Then James pulled off a fantastic stint in the finale. He closed the gap to the Porsche, and we reached the podium. The 24 Hours of Le Mans? We know Toyota will be the favourites, but we’ll try our best and play all our cards. It’s a long race, and many factors, starting with reliability, can be crucial. We hope to achieve a great result.”

James Calado, 499P #51: “I am delighted with the result, the first podium in our Le Mans Hypercar, and a step in the right direction. We worked hard before this race to improve and prepare for Spa. We were a little unlucky during the race, but we picked ourselves up, kept pushing and closed the gap to the cars ahead of us. I feel sorry for our teammates in the 499P number 50 because we could have achieved an even better result as a team.

Antonio Giovinazzi, 499P #51: “It is a big thrill to be back on the podium after such a long time. It was a tricky race, but in the end, James and Alessandro did an exceptional job. I am delighted for the entire team”.

Antonello Coletta, Head of Attività Sportive GT: “Starting from the assumption that the rules are the same for everyone and that we abide by them, I think we need to reflect on the ban on tyrewarmers. It’s a common opinion in the paddock and among professionals, not to mention the drivers, that this situation has become dangerous. At Spa, there have been many accidents and extreme episodes due to cold temperatures and changeable weather, and it’s time to do some serious thinking on the matter because it has major ramifications for safety. We are on the eve of a decisive race like the 24 Hours of Le Mans where, overnight, temperatures are low and speeds very high. It’s not just an issue for us. The accidents involved different cars, from different classes, driven at the time by both professional and gentleman drivers, and this situation had already been predicted some time ago.”

Ferdinando Cannizzo, Head of Endurance Race Cars: “For us it was a double-sided race, which leaves a slightly sour taste in the mouth because of the final result, given the excellent performance of the cars. The race was affected by our initial decision to start with a conservative approach, with rain tyres, and by the events during the race, which punished us on several occasions. However, the team didn’t lose concentration, striving to gain one position after another. Finishing on the podium shows we are making great strides in understanding the car and optimising performance. Certainly, we are sorry not to have picked up points with number 50. In this regard, what happened during the race to us and to many other cars should make everyone think about whether we should review the regulations, given their possible impact on safety. We leave Spa with valuable lessons for the future: from tomorrow, we’ll start working again to prepare for the season’s most important and challenging race”.

Source. Ferrari


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