The FIA & ACO have presented the future vision for the ‘premier class’ of FIA WEC and thus the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 2020 during a press conference today replacing the current LMP1 class.
The 2020 regulations will mark a strong reduction in operating, testing and running costs for the teams and manufacturers involved with the ACO/FIA targeting a €25-30m per season budget based on a two car team excluding marketing and infrastructure costs and based on a 5 year R&D spend. If the organisers can achieve this target then this would equate to the 2020 regulations comparatively spending 20-25% of the recent factory LMP1 budgets. In theory therefore it would help level the playing field somewhat between factory teams and privateers and non OEM backed teams.
The styling of the regulations is set to be a departure from the current ‘prototype’ aesthetic as well with the intent of using ‘hypercar’ styling. Mobile aerodynamic devices will be permitted within the regulations as are common in a number of hypercars and teams will be able to homologate only one aero package per season. Personally I’m imagining styling similar to that of cars which raced in the late 1990s ‘GT1’ era at Le Mans. The 2020 regulations ensure the cockpit will feature enough space for two seats, thus greater cockpit volume than the current regulations, a larger windscreen and a 980 KG overall weight.
Engine regulations will remain open with turbo charged and normally aspirated engines and an open choice on the number of cylinders. Fuel flow limits will remain in place to balance the options available and maintain the ACO’s long held ambition around fuel usage reduction. The output is aimed at 520KW (700 HP) whilst hybridisation will remain a part of the regulations with an ERS system designed to be run from the front axle delivering up to 200KW of power (220hp).
The systems can be designed by any manufacturer and must be designed with cost and the same level of competitiveness available to privateer teams:
“An ERS manufacturer must be able to supply a minimum of cars (number to be defined) entered in the championship – The supply is based on a leasing per season including supply of the system, technical support and race track support – The annual leasing per car, all services included, will be cost-capped by the regulation. The price will be set in order to comply with the original targets: performance and technology accessible to all competitors, including private ones. Extensive technical definition to prevent expensive development”
I’m quite happy personally with the framework established by the ACO/FIA as it currently stands and am interested to see how it develops. I hope that changing the regulations allows for the ACO to attract more manufacturers into Le Mans racing whilst also not losing sight of the need for privateers. It sounds on paper as if these regulations may be of interest to smaller manufacturers as well such as McLaren which were shut out somewhat by the recent regulations.
I think the ERS/Hybridisation concept is also a good compromise. It was always going to be part of the future of any premier sportscar racing regulation set, however the idea that it will be more cost effective and available to privateers is welcome. Finally the ACO/FIA have said these regulations are set until 2024 with exploration of hydrogen implementation aimed for introduction after 2024.
What do you think? Is this the right or wrong direction for sportscar racing in your view? Any other thoughts?