Antonio Fuoco: “We are improving race by race”
Photo: WEC

Antonio Fuoco: “We are improving race by race”

Antonio Fuoco is looking forward to Ferrari AF Corse’s home race with the 6 Hours of Monza this weekend. The Italian driver of the No. 50 499P looks back on what has been so far a remarkable first FIA WEC season for the Prancing Horse in the Hypercar clas

For the first time ever, Ferrari AF Corse’s stunning 499P will lock horns with the rest of the Hypercar field around Monza’s Temple of Speed this weekend. The timing could hardly be better for Ferrari’s faithful tifosi. Round 5 of the FIA WEC season takes place four weeks after the Italian manufacturer’s triumph at Le Mans.

Although he was not behind the wheel of the winning No. 51 499P in La Sarthe, Italian driver Antonio Fuoco knows all about the significance and magnitude of such a victory for Ferrari. “As a team member, I think what we did was something really special”, underlines Antonio. “We should be proud of what we achieved.”

On June 20th, Antonio, along with all his fellow Hypercar drivers at Ferrari AF Corse - Nicklas Nielsen, Miguel Molina for the No. 50 as well as James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi and Alessandro Pier Guidi for the No. 51 - took on a trip to Maranello with both 499P to bask in the glory of the Prancing Horse’s Le Mans win. “Coming back in Maranello and seeing so many people around the city, it was really nice”, Antonio remembers fondly. “Maranello is also the city where I grew up with the Ferrari Driver Academy. I spent so many times there. So it was nice to see all the people around, waiting for us. It makes me really proud of what we are doing until now.”

Antonio has every reason to be proud of Ferrari AF Corse’s maiden season in Hypercar class. The Italian manufacturer is giving Toyota Gazoo Racing a run for their money in the race to the FIA WEC World Champion titles, which is no easy feat. With only three races left, the title race is set to go down to the wire. “Toyota is still the main competitor to beat”, Antonio recalls. “I think they are still in front of us, but we are improving race by race. So we try to do our best and try to fight with them until the end, even if, at the moment, they are in front in the drivers and manufacturers championships.” Toyota are indeed still at the top of the manufacturers’ standings with only a 18-point lead over Ferrari. The GR010 HYBRID No. 8 crew (Sébastien Buemi, Ryō Hirakawa and José Maria López) are 25 points ahead of the 499P No. 51 in the drivers' championship.

The 27-year-old Formula 1 development driver for the Scuderia Ferrari believes there are still more to come from AF Corse’s Hypercar squad. “There are some small areas where we can improve, but it's not that many. As a new team, I think we did a really beautiful job until now. So there is small improvement to do, but we are on the right track.” One of Antonio’s and the 499P’s strong points is certainly their one-lap pace. No driver has as many pole positions this season that Antonio’s two. “To be honest, there are not many secrets for a quali lap. I think I feel really comfortable with the 499P, not only in quali but also in the race. I really love to drive this car!”

After clocking the fastest qualifying lap at Sebring and Le Mans, Antonio will look to make it three at Monza this Saturday, to the delight of the tifosi. “It is quite a special track. First of all because it is our home race. You have a special feeling for the track. It's quite a challenging one, we have some high-speed corners and also some chicanes where the approach is quite different compared to some other circuits.”

Whatever happens now until the end of the season, 2023 is a year to remember for Antonio. And the upcoming FIA WEC series promise to deliver even more entertainment and competition with the expected arrivals of Alpine, BMW and Lamborghini in the premier Hypercar class. “This year, the FIA WEC season with Hypercars was super nice! This championship’s level is going quite high with new drivers and manufacturers coming to Hypercars. It’s a really challenging championship and we’ll try to fight with all of them. Honestly, I can’t wait to see next year!”