While it is yet to be tested against the competition, the team is pushing to succeed where the likes of Redman and Surtees stumbled.
“I always feel very lucky to be a part of this team,” says Calado. “Ferrari is such a big manufacturer, with an incredible history, and just to be a part of a programme like this is an amazing achievement. Having the chance to go for those outright Le Mans victories and world championships for the first time in 50 years… having that chance to make history… that’s going to be very special. We need to work hard if we’re going to achieve that, and it’s a brand-new car so there needs to be a lot of work done to get to a point where we can fight for wins and titles.”
And therein lies the challenge. With Ferrari being one of seven manufacturers signed up to the Hypercar class this season, success is far from a given, regardless of the team’s heritage and pedigree. The new 499Ps will be run by seasoned Ferrari team AF Corse, but even then it will be a big test for a squad that has masses of GT experience, but not so much on the prototype side barring a single season in LMP2.
With this season shaping up to be the hottest contested WEC campaign yet with Ferrari joining Porsche, Cadillac, Peugeot, Vanwall and Glickenhaus in taking the fight to class pace-setter Toyota, the eventual champion will certainly have been made to work for it.
“We know we’re facing a huge challenge,” says Calado. “On our side, there’s some adapting to do. For the team, the engineers I know are learning the Hypercar quickly and there’s already been a big step up in Ferrari. We’ve got a lot more people than ever before working on this project, people working flat-out day and night to make sure everything is working and we’re pulling in the right direction. We’re at a level that’s much like F1, and I have full trust in what they’re doing. We’ve got the right guys behind us to get what we want, which is to win races and championships with Ferrari on the biggest stage in sports car racing.
“We the drivers must adapt too, not in terms of driving the car, but in terms of managing the GT traffic effectively. We’ve always complained about the prototypes coming through while we’re battling, so to now be on the other side of that, doing the overtaking… it’ll take a few races to maximise the most efficient way of handling a stint.”