2023 WEC season shaping up as the ‘best to date’
The championship starts its second decade with a record entry as many of the world’s most famous automotive brands battle it out on the global stage. The championship starts its second decade with a record entry as many of the world’s most famous automotive brands battle it out on the global stage.
Ferrari, Porsche and Cadillac have joined the top-tier Hypercar category alongside Peugeot, Glickenhaus, Vanwall and defending champions Toyota. The expanded seven-race series launches at the 1000 Miles of Sebring in Florida back in March.
Canada’s 1997 Formula One world beater Jacques Villeneuve is looking to recapture those Grand Prix glory days as he heads the list of big-name drivers attracted to the series in 2023 by taking to the grid with Vanwall.
Ferrari, whose prancing horse logo is instantly recognised worldwide, is aiming for Hypercar honours on its return with the 499P – 50 years after the 312 P made its last appearance in the premier class.
"The first word was 'Wow'," said Italy’s Antonio Giovinazzi, another ex-F1 driver who will be part of Ferrari’s six-strong driver line-up, after seeing the car for the first time.
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.”
"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."
BMW, Alpine and Lamborghini all plan on joining the challenge for Hypercar honours next season as the premier category – which was introduced in 2021 – successfully continues its mission to attract the leading car brands to the race track.
WEC regulations allow for complex and awe-inspiring sports prototypes such as this year’s Ferrari and Peugeot cars to compete with other major brands and racing teams while bringing a crossover technology for road car design, performances and safety.
Richard Mille, FIA Endurance Commission President, said: "The sheer number of entries across the field underlines the growth and appeal of the FIA World Endurance Championship year on year."
The Hypercar class has reached the point that we envisaged in the early days of developing this concept, with 13 entries from seven different automotive brands.”
Japanese car giant Toyota have an unchanged six-strong driver line-up for its two-car entry in 2023 having won at Le Mans and on home territory at Fuji while on the way to WEC glory in 2022.
With the introduction of a race in Portimao in Portugal on 16 April, the calendar has been extended to seven races this season as drivers and cars are tested to the limit whether over six hours of racing or 24, as at Le Mans.
It will be a champagne occasion at the iconic La Sarthe track in France on the weekend of 10-11 June as endurance racing’s crown jewel event celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The world’s automotive giants will also showcase their dream cars in Belgium, Italy and Japan before the season reaches what is set to be another thrilling climax in Bahrain on 4 November.
And it has already been confirmed that Qatar will join the series in 2024 after the Middle East nation agreed a six-year deal. In all, 38 drivers from 12 nations are competing in the three categories – Hypercar, LMP2 and LMGTE Am – with nine car manufacturers represented.
Five female drivers are also competing in the WEC, including the all-female Iron Dames line-up of Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey in the LMGTE Am category.
As part of the continuing commitment to a greener future in sportscar racing, tyre warming has been eliminated from all classes in the WEC. The change follows measures introduced in recent years, including 100% renewable fuel powering cars which can hit speeds of about 330kph.
Frédéric Lequien, CEO of the FIA WEC, said: "It is truly fantastic to see the WEC and sportscar racing overall going from strength to strength. It’s a huge honour to have so many global car manufacturers committing to the WEC and putting their trust in our championship."
It’s also very encouraging to see strong entries in LMP2 as well as a record LMGTE Am field too – the WEC is shaping up for its best season to date.”