Organizers of the famous Le Mans 24 hour race have told reporters they will have a “very important announcement” before the start of this year’s event on Saturday. Speculation centers on the fact that Fernando Alonso, Ferrari’s lead Formula One driver, has been selected by the organizers as the 2014 guest starter, according to GrandPrix.com. Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemolo has gone out of his way recently to praise Le Mans racing, and Alonso sounded very interested as well, saying;
“It (Le Mans) is one of a handful of races that has defined the history of motor sport. In Formula One, we have also entered the hybrid era and I am curious to find out more about the working methods and technology involved in this series. I’m keen to check out the details on this type of car.”
Ferrari has struggled mightily with its new for 2014 Formula One engine package. Their performance so far this year has been an embarrassment to the proud Ferrari tradition. Since Formula One rules prohibit testing and changes during the season, some observers think getting back into Le Mans racing would allow the Maranello squad to get around the F1 testing ban and gain an advantage over its rivals.
But Ferrari is also deep into development of its own hybrid road car, the LaFerrari, which features an 800 hp V-12 engine and a hybrid motor that adds yet another 150 hp in short bursts. This stunning, $1,000,000 car also gets 40% better fuel economy than any previous Ferrari production car. What better way for Ferrari to showcase its commitment to hybrid power than participating in Le Mans racing once again?
Ferrari customer cars have raced at Le Mans regularly, but there has been no factory backed team in many years. After so much time away from the sport, is Ferrari poised to announce a return to Le Mans racing? By the time the green flag waves at noon on Saturday, we will know.