Giovinazzi on Ferrari 499P Hypercar: “The first word was Wow!”
Photo: Ferrari

Giovinazzi on Ferrari 499P Hypercar: “The first word was Wow!”

Antonio Giovinazzi was announced as part of Ferrari’s six-strong driver line-up who will compete in this year’s FIA WEC as part of their Hypercar campaign.

The Italian, who competed with Alfa Romeo’s F1 team from 2019 – 2021 and will continue working with Scuderia Ferrari as a reserve driver in 2023, is no stranger to endurance racing having previously competed at Le Mans, in ELMS races, as well as taking two wins in the Asian Le Mans Series – which kicks off in the Middle East weekend.

We spoke to Giovinazzi about the year ahead and what we can expect from Ferrari as the marque makes its highly-anticipated return to the top class of endurance racing...

Hi Antonio, a very warm welcome to the WEC! Can you tell us a little bit about your journey with Ferrari in WEC and the reasons for joining the series in 2023?

“Well, I am very happy to be back in the WEC – I have great memories of the races I have done in the past in this championship, also because of the good results. My first 24 Hours of Le Mans (in 2018) is a memory that I keep close to my heart. Returning with Ferrari to the top category is really exciting - I can't wait for the first race at Sebring.”

Can you tell us your initial thoughts on the Ferrari 499P machinery and any testing plans?

“The first word was Wow! I found myself in front of a wonderful prototype from Maranello, something that hadn't been seen for half a century... It was an emotion that I find difficult to put into words. The car? I tested it on track and the 499P is a beautiful car to drive.”

A lot of WEC is working and sharing key information including data with your two team-mates, how have you found working with James [Calado] and Alessandro [Pier Guidi] so far?

“What is very unique in endurance racing is the fact you get to share a car with two drivers – it is also an extremely important aspect of the sport. I know I’m in a great team and I feel honoured to be able to compete with Alessandro and James – both drivers have had a lot experience in the WEC and I feel very at ease with them.”

You competed at LM24 back in 2018 with Ferrari in LMGTE Pro, what are your memories of that event and what are you most looking forward to about your return there this year?

“I have wonderful memories of that year at Le Mans. I have not forgotten the hours driving in the evening and into the night… the difference in speed with the prototypes was considerable and you had to be very careful. This time my perspective will change - I'll be on board the 499P in the fastest class. And this year with the centenary of the race, as well as Ferrari's return to the top class after 50 years, it is going to be something special.”

You’ve had experience across various motorsport disciplines including Formula 1 and Formula E – but what do you foresee as the biggest challenges in the WEC?

“Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of driving many cars, in many championships. However, the Hypercar represents something new for me and I'm excited for this new challenge. The focus is always on getting the best possible result but I know it won’t be easy. When you make your debut with a new car, there are many challenges: starting with reliability which is a key factor in endurance racing. We will make a humble start - aware that we are making our debut in this category and that we still have a lot of work to do.”

We’re going to seven venues with the WEC this season, what ones are you most looking forward to and why?

“It has to be Le Mans and also Monza, as it is a home race for both me and for Ferrari.”

Finally, from a personal point of view, is there anyone you’re particularly looking forward to competing against this season or seeing within the WEC paddock?

“In the 2023 WEC line-up there are many impressive drivers who I can’t wait to compete against. I also hope we can give our fans something to get excited about.

Manufacturers who have already gained experience in the category are the ones we want to fight with but at the end of the day - we focus on ourselves. We want to improve the car and its reliability – then when we feel ready, we will race!”

Giovinazzi and Ferrari AF Corse will be in action with the Ferrari 499P Hypercar for the WEC season-opener on 17 March.