Lilou Wadoux: "I'll be thinking about the Ferrari 499P on Saturday evening, after the chequered flag"
A year after testing the Toyota GR010 Hybrid, you're about to drive another Hypercar: the Ferrari 499P. How does that make you feel?
I'm obviously delighted to be offered this opportunity. I'd like to thank Ferrari and AF Corse for all the work they've done throughout the season, but also for this opportunity to drive the car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I'm very grateful to them. I'll have quite a few new procedures to discover, but I've already started to prepare and I'm going to give my best.
What have you done to prepare?
I've been studying the steering wheel manual and I spent a day in the Ferrari simulator (at Maranello, on October 18). That gave me my first glimpse of the car, even though it was virtual. And, above all, I was able to go through a whole range of procedures, which are obviously very different from the ones of the GTE. I'm talking in particular about the safety and hybridisation procedures, which are the most important. But we're obviously going to go through all this again in Bahrain to make sure that everything is firmly in place. Given the mass of information to digest, it's not necessarily easy, especially when you have a race weekend in between.
Will you be backed up by a regular driver, like Sébastien Buemi last year?
Yes, Alessandro Pier Guidi.
Did the simulator help you last year?
The simulator allows you to do a lot of rough work. And last year, it allowed me to be a lot more relaxed on site. When I arrived, I already knew almost everything. That certainly made my job a lot easier. And the advantage I have this year is that I've driven on this circuit in LMP2, GTE and LMH, and I think that's going to help me too. I'll just have to adapt my style quickly by moving from the GTE to the LMH.
You don't seem to mind jumping from one car to another...
Last year, in two days, I drove an LMP2, an LMH and a GTE. It went well. I get used to jumping from one car to another. At the same time, the more you drive, the more cars you get to know and the more logical the procedures become.
Last year, you approached your first drive in a Hypercar in a very detached way. As your reputation grows, so does the attention you're getting, so what's the situation this time?
I'm looking forward to it, of course. But this test is not more important to me than the race the day before. At the moment, my priority is the 8 Hours of Bahrain, and I really want to end the GTE era on a high note. I'll be thinking about the test with the 499P on Saturday evening, after the chequered flag.
Why is this final round of the 2023 season, your first as an official Ferrari driver, so important?
We're really keen to finish on a high note this GTE era. First of all, because this car is great. But also because the last few races clearly didn't live up to our expectations. At Fuji, for example (Luís Pérez Companc's early spin), we had a great level of performance, which we weren't able to translate into a good result. I hope we'll have same potential in Bahrain. We're very motivated by the idea of finishing on a high.
It's true that things haven't been going well for you since the Le Mans 24 Hours...
It's a shame, because we had an encouraging second place at Portimao and then a fine victory at Spa. But I'm satisfied with our season all the same. For me, everything was new: the team, the car, the team-mates... But from Sebring onwards, where the first race was held, the feeling went down really well. And personally, I think I did a good job throughout the week.
And what's more, there were no difficulties in making the transition from LMP2 to GTE? The approach to racing is different. Last year, I was overtaking the GTs, and this time it's the opposite. But the experience I gained in LMP2 helps me a lot in terms of traffic management. I've also had to change my driving style a bit. But this year, I also raced in LMP2 (Watkins-Glen, in IMSA ⬇️) and I had no trouble getting back into the rhythm.
What can we wish you in Bahrain? First and foremost, I'd like to finish this season in the GTE class with style, in particular by enjoying myself as much as possible.