The great victories in Ferrari's history have mostly been achieved with the famous V12 engines, but over the years, the Maranello brand has also adapted to the times, managing to excel with smaller, supercharged and, in time, even hybrid engines.
The last great conquest, that of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2023, which marked Ferrari's return to the podium after almost 60 years, came with a relatively small engine in terms of number of cylinders and cubic capacity, at least considering the car it was to be fitted with, but with exciting performance. Its mechanics were taken almost unchanged from the road car that 'baptised' it, the 296.
In the hallmark of tradition
The block in question is labelled F163 and, when it debuted in 2021 in the 296 GTB and GTS, it was completely new: it was actually a V6, a type of engine that Ferrari abandoned in the road car segment after the first Dino and which in competition was only used for the F1 unit, with which it has nothing in common.
The F163 engine in the 296 GTB and GTS
The F163 engine has a displacement of 2,996 cm3 and an angle between the cylinder banks of 120°, a useful feature to allow the placement of the two IHI turbochargers inside the V, with the exhaust manifolds on the inner side of the banks and the intake manifolds on the outer ones. This solution is better in terms of overall dimensions and has the advantage of reducing turbo response lag.
Constructed from aluminium and lightweight materials, it has twin overhead camshafts per bank and four valves per cylinder, and on its own delivers power ranging from over 600 bhp to 700 bhp, depending on the model.
The F163CE engine of the 296 GT3
Not just hybrids
The first evolution came in 2021 with the 296 GTB, a rear-engined berlinetta that replaced the 488 and took its cue from the more powerful SF90 with a similar technical layout, but with a twin-turbo V8 at its base. The 296 has a total power output of 819 bhp, 654 of which is delivered by the V6 at 8,000 rpm, with the rest coming from an electric motor coupled to the front axle and powered by a rechargeable battery.
Ferrari 296 Challenge 2024, the engine
Two racing versions of the 296 were produced, but without the electric part: in the 296 GT3, the engine, in the F163CE variant, is limited to 600 bhp, which is still more than that available in the model it replaces, the 488 GT3, where the twin-turbo V8 delivered 525 bhp.
Also based on the 296 is the Challenge version, which from 2024 will replace the equivalent 488 Challenge for Ferrari's single-make championship: here, power is increased to as much as 700 bhp.
The 499P hypercar
The ultimate expression of the F163 powerplant, however, came in 2023 with the 499P, a car designed from scratch, with the collaboration of Dallara for the chassis, with the aim of bringing Ferrari back to compete in the top endurance category, after decades in which the Maranello brand only competed, through private teams, in minor categories such as GT.
The 499P, entered in the Hypercar category, uses a system very similar to that of the 296 road car, but without the external charging of the battery, which is only regenerated by the energy recovery system as in the F1 cars. In this case, the V6 F163CE delivers 680 bhp, plus 272 bhp developed by the electric motor connected to the front wheels.
In total, the car has more than 950 bhp, although by regulation the total power the system can deliver when the electric motor also kicks in is limited to 500 kW, less than 700 bhp.
Equipped in this way, the 499P won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2023, a success to add to that achieved at the 1000 Miglia de Sebring on its debut.