Standard hybrids on sportscar horizon
The top tier of Le Mans Prototypes might run to a single hybrid design in the future as part of cost-cutting measures aimed at attracting manufacturers back into the formula.
Le Mans organiser the ACO and the FIA have been working to bring in new regulations aimed at reducing the ninefigure budgets currently required for a top-flight manufacturer P1 programme. But have also brought in rule breaks to entice new teams in the near future.
Prior to Christmas, the ACO released a series of short-term tweaks to the LMP1 rulebook aimed at encouraging new manufacturer programmes for the top LMP1-H category, which is down to just Toyota and Porsche following Audi Sport’s withdrawal.
The changes include unlimited bodywork designs – whereas existing teams are limited to three kits – additional wind tunnel hours, extra tyres during six-hour races and unlimited private testing as well as the chance to change hybrid class during the season.
The changes are designed to give prospective new entrants a first or second season development leg-up to be able to compete with existing crews. New teams will have to compile a dossier proving they have not benefited from any data surrounding the existing LMP1 entries before they will be granted the waivers.
Also on the horizon is a raft of cost-cutting measures, which might include all teams moving to a spec hybrid powertrain when the next technical rules cycle begins in 2020. In recent seasons all teams have adopted the battery energy storage system pioneered by Porsche.
ACO president Pierre Fillon told newspaper France Bleu Maine that cost reduction was a top priority, and that a spec hybrid was under consideration.
He said: “We have had very innovative technologies with hybrid systems but competition was so strong between Porsche, Audi and Toyota. They developed more sophisticated systems and that’s how costs go up.
“We have been working for two years to reduce costs, limiting testing, limiting the number of people allowed to work in teams, limiting the aerodynamic developments and we will go further. We will remain in innovation, but without going into multiple hybrid systems. There will be one system for the car of tomorrow.”
Tweaks will be made to LMP rules to cut down the budgets