Ferrari seize Sebring pole ahead of Toyota on WEC return

WEC Hypercar

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Ferrari stormed to a surprise pole position for the opening round of the World Endurance Championship in Sebring on their return to top level sports car racing.

The new 499P Hypercar secured pole ahead of the two Toyotas courtesy of the number 50 car driven by Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen. The second Ferrari, number 51, will line up fourth on the grid, ahead of the number two Cadillac and two Porsches.

The sun was already setting over the Florida horizon as the 15 minute session began to decide Hypercar and overall pole position for tomorrow’s 100 Miles of Sebring. As many of the cars took to the track, there were early concerns for the number 93 Peugeot which stopped briefly on track, and appeared to go through a power cycle before carrying on its way.

The first team to set a lap time was the number five Porsche driven by Michael Christensen, with the number 708 Glickenhaus jumping into second place courtesy of Oliver Pla, six tenths behind. But the times were not close to the ultimate pace and the number 94 Peugeot went easily fastest of all with Loic Duval’s first effort of a 1’51.858.

The number eight Toyota was the next to lower the benchmark to a 1’49.090 with Brendon Hartley at the wheel. But that was easily beaten by Christensen in the number five Porsche, who lopped 1.7 seconds off the benchmark.

Ferrari’s first representative flying lap was good enough to put the number 51 499P on provisional pole, but only for a matter of seconds as Hartley improved to break into the 1’45s for the first time in the session. Kamui Kobayashi could not match his team mate in the number seven Toyota and moved into second, but both Ferraris were improving on their second efforts and Antonio Fuoco stormed to the top of the times with a 1’45.067, two tenths quicker than the two Toyotas.

The Toyotas returned to the pit lane but Kobayashi and Hartley climbed out of the cars, content with not heading back out for a final attempt. With no other cars improving in the final minute, Ferrari’s pole position was all but assured.

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When the chequered flag flew, the number 50 Ferrari of Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen had secured the first pole of the season on the 499P’s racing debut. The number eight Toyota of Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa were second ahead of Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez in the second Toyota.

The second number 51 Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi, Antonio Giovinazzi and James Calado will start fourth, ahead of the number two Cadillac of Alex Lynn, Earl Bamber and Richard Westbrook. The two Porsches will line up sixth and seventh, ahead of the two Peugeots. The two non-hybrid Hypercars of Glickenhaus and Vanwall will start tenth and 11th, respectively.

In the LMP2 class, pole was secured by United Autosports with the number 23 car of Oliver Jarvis, Tom Blomqvist and Joshua Pierson ahead of the number 28 Jota entry, while the Iron Dames Porsche of Sarah Bovey, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey secured pole position in GT Am.

1000 Miles of Sebring Hypercar qualifying results

150Ferrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAntonio Fuoco/Miguel Molina/Nicklas Nielsen1’45.067
28ToyotaToyota GR010 HybridSébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa1’45.281
37ToyotaToyota GR010 HybridMike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose Maria Lopez1’45.548
451Ferrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAlessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado/Antonio Giovinazzi1’45.874
52CadillacCadillac V-Series.REarl Bamber/Alex Lynn/Richard Westbrook1’46.082
66Porsche PenskePorsche 963Kévin Estre/André Lotterer/Laurens Vanthoor1’47.193
75Porsche PenskePorsche 963Dane Cameron/Michael Christensen/Frédéric Makowiecki1’47.210
894PeugeotPeugeot 9X8Loic Duval/Gustavo Menezes/Nico Müller1’47.455
993PeugeotPeugeot 9X8Paul Di Resta/Mikkel Jensen/Jean-Éric Vergne1’48.205
10708GlickenhausGlickenhaus 007Romain Dumas/Ryan Briscoe/Olivier Pla1’49.164
114Floyd VanwallVanwall Vandervell 680Tom Dillmann/Esteban Guerrieri/Jacques Villeneuve1’49.329

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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8 comments on “Ferrari seize Sebring pole ahead of Toyota on WEC return”

  1. This is absolutely iconic.

  2. I loved watching the Ferrari onboard, I’m actually quite excited for this. Sebring seems crazy bumpy, maybe it’s just where the camera was placed or the rigidity of the suspension, but the track looks like it has been glued together with 15 different types of concrete.

    1. @bernasaurus They kept the same track surface for Ferrari from their last appearance. You know, for reference.
      And they are actually proud of the bumps, just take look at twitter.

  3. Excellent, great lap by Fuoco. Great to see the Italian (!) stick it on pole. The reaction just underlined that famous quote by Vettel, that everyone in motorsport is a Ferrari fan. Some have tucked it away deeper than others, but the way Ferrari elevates a race and excites the fans is unmatched.

    Also good to see the Iron Dames claim pole in the remaining GT class. Their effort to bring this team to this place – class pole in the world championship – deserves praise. It’s probably also doing more to promote women in motorsport than the segregated W Series ever has.

  4. Worrying lack of pace from Peugeot.

    1. CD (@clipperdael)
      17th March 2023, 12:54

      I wonder how much the track surface detracts from their ground effect concept. It can’t be the optimal venue for the car to put it mildly.

    2. It was rumoured that their car was optimized only for the 24H LeMans.

  5. Mission half complete for Ferrari who returned in style for the top endurance racing category.

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