Next year we’ll be staring at a Formula 1 race in Baku while trying to not miss a thing during the 24 Hours of Le Mans and some folks feel that clash of schedules is deliberate. It has usually been a clash that has been avoided but the current struggles F1 finds itself in has had a few fans signing off and moving the valuable time to the World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Before you get to settled in, you may want to read the fine print in WEC to ensure that you won’t be facing a F1-type crisis in that series any time soon. According to an article by the wonderfully efficient Gary Watkins at AUTOSPORT, that’s exactly where it could be heading.
The issue at hand is a host of proposed changes to the LMP1 category. Namely a new monocoque design and also, at the same time, a push for a much-expanded hybrid system. This has Audi and Porsche crowing loudly while Toyota aren’t so sure as AUTOSPORT reports:
“We don’t see why it is a must to combine the new monocoques with bigger hybrid systems,” says Toyota Motorsport technical director Pascal Vasselon, “but it is understandable that the manufacturers with more resources would want to make such a big step.
“We feel it is too early to move forward. If in Formula 1 someone suggested making another big step so soon, everyone would say they were crazy. Maybe we don’t realise that an F1-type crisis for us is not so far away.”
“I wouldn’t say that it is a complete democracy, but it is true that we are isolated in our position,” says Vasselon in reaction to that point.
Porsche and Audi are very keen to change the hybrid systems as well as the monocoque. I n fact, Audi believe hybrid is central to their technology efforts and that’s germane to the series:
“Technology is the DNA of the WEC, and we have to make sure that we develop that value further,” says Audi’s head of LMP1, Christopher Reinke. “We should allow a further step to advance the technology further in 2018.”
Over at sister company Porsche, well, they just think it’s damn sexy period:
“You can’t sell the idea of a new monocoque to the public,” LMP1 technical director Alex Hitzinger argues. “But a bigger hybrid system, and potentially a third system, is sexy.”
The one thing the WEC has done very well is find a proper Balance of Power within the LMP1 category and it will be interesting to see if the press even further with the hybrid technology. What I am slightly interested in is the desire to keep things stable from Toyota and their concern that making too many major moves is not a good thing.
One of the appealing elements of motorsport for engineers and manufacturers is the ability to execute rapid prototyping and see quick turnaround in their technology innovations where it would take years for road cars. This makes sense if Audi and Porsche both feel that electric cars are their future and they’d like to escalate the tech within their racing programs.
For Porsche, it may be finding tech that more easily translates to showroom sales and elements that customers can see and mentally get excited about. Why have one or two hybrid systems when you can have three? That’s better right?
I’m still intrigued by this major push to hybrid within motorpsort in general as the sales of hybrid cars in the Us are still in single digits. That’s a lot of resources being poured into a technology that very few people are buying.
Having said that, if there was a place to prove the tech for the road car, the WEC is it. Not so much F1. Then I also recall the simple notion that any system that can make the car get around the track faster will be adopted and perhaps for LMP1, hybrid tech does tick the box.
So watch closely for a F1-style crisis according to Toyota and read the tea leaves there. Pascal Vasselon isn’t talking to hear his own voice, he’s warning of a wholesale dive into hybrid and the knock-on effect it had in F1 which created a crisis at the moment and he’s dog whistling the warning that this could very easily come back to bite the WEC on the arse.
Regardless, it is a very nice article that discusses the technology and the direction the WEC is heading in and Gary does a very nice job of wrapping those elements up so check out the link below.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT