Ferrari’s sportscar technical director Ferdinando Cannizzo said the Italian marque doesn’t take any consolation from being the highest-placed LMH car in the Qatar 1812km, a race in which LMDh cars from Porsche and Cadillac swept the top four positions.

AF Corse’s new privately-entered Ferrari 499P finished fifth ahead of the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID, while the two factory cars ended up seventh and 13th in the final order after being hit with unrelated penalties.

All three cars from Ferrari’s stable finished at least a lap down on the winning Porsche Penske 963 of Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Andre Lotterer.

PLUS: How Porsche made the perfect start in WEC despite late drama in Qatar

“The difference in performance was so big that there was no strategy that we could play to offset such a big gap in performance,” Cannizzo explained. “On that side it's very tough. It's quite frustrating for us, of course.”

He added: “I don't want to put some sweet[ner] on this very bitter day. I think we really had to make quite a special race considering the situation. 

“When you are behind you are trying to invent something because you are trying to be ready for something to happen, but no safety car happened, so [there was] no opportunity for neutralisation.

“We are happy that as an LMH car we are there. But as long as we are competing also with the [other] platform we try to be within the same potential.”

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

Porsche and Cadillac appeared rapid from the outset in the Prologue test ahead of the first race weekend of the year at the Losail International Circuit, while both Toyota and Ferrari struggled in comparison with their respective LMH cars.

This was effectively a reversal of the 2023 form guide, when LMDh cars appeared to lag behind their LMH counterparts all throughout the season.

Cannizzo said Ferrari’s pace in the Qatar race was roughly in line with what it was expecting based on its simulation data.

“What I can say is that unfortunately the results of the race confirmed our predictions,” he said. “The simulations that we ran before the race was predicting that we would struggle in this race. 

“We tried everything trying to optimise and on that side we should be quite happy because we were able to step by step find a set-up, which gave us the opportunity not to have degradation of tyres. 

“We were able to double, triple stint the tyres without any degradation, taking under control the wear on the tyres. 

“So we had the opportunity. On that side we are very happy.”

#83 AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Robert Kubica, Robert Shwartzman, Yifei Ye

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The #50 Ferrari 499P, which led at the start following a rapid launch from fourth on the grid, lost ground after Miguel Molina picked up a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line at pit entry in the first hour.

Ferrari had to bring the car shared by Molina, Nicklas Nielsen and Antonio Fuoco to the pits early due to tyre-related vibrations, but it didn’t encounter any reliability issues en route to seventh.

The sister entry also suffered an early blow after James Calado made contact with the #59 United Autosports McLaren 720S GT3, with the entire rear bodywork coming off the car shortly afterwards.

A long pitstop to fit a new tail-end, plus a penalty late in the race for forcing a rival off the track, consigned the car crewed by Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi and Alessandro Pier Guidi to 13th in the final reckoning, three laps off the lead.

Cannizzo explained there was no real pace difference between the performances of the three Ferrari LMH cars in Qatar, and the customer AF Corse entry of Robert Kubica, Yifei Ye and Robert Shwartzman was able to beat the full-factory cars purely because it had a clean race.

“In terms of pace we were similar, equal, there was no difference,” he said. “The only difference was the situation. They didn't face any problems. 

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“It's more the fact that car #50 had some small problem during the race and was slowed down a bit, and the car #51 had the accident and some other penalty also. 

“Apart from that, if you get rid of this, the cars will probably be all together. There is no reason other than the race situations for this result. 

“We are happy that we have one car that is the first of LMH cars, in front of Toyota, it means we did a good job.”

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2024-03-04T16:30:38Z dg43tfdfdgfd