Toyota slows itself down
Toyota has done the right thing by the World Endurance Championship.
It has seen “the big picture”, according to technical director Pascal Vasselon, and agreed to a double performance hit designed to bring the privateers in LMP1 closer ahead of this weekend’s Fuji round.
The Japanese manufacturer has understood that the championship needs to provide a better show than at Silverstone in August. It concedes that the prospect of the two Toyota TS050 HYBRIDS repeatedly running away at the front of the field from the non-hybrid independents could undermine the
WEC as it plots a bright new future with the new regulations for 2020-21.
“We came to the conclusion that we could not continue as at Silverstone,” said Vasselon, whose cars finished four laps up on the best of the privateers before their exclusion for a technical infringement. “We clearly need to provide a better spectacle.”
That’s why it has agreed to a 26kg hike in the minimum weight of the TS050S and a removal of the two-lap advantage in stint length enshrined in the original Equivalence of Technology, the means by which the rulemakers have been attempting to bring the privateers closer to the front over the course 2018-19 WEC superseason.
These EOT changes cover the remainder of the superseason and the 2019-20 WEC – the first to run to a ‘winter-series’ format – with the exception of the Le Mans 24 Hours. The EOT that came into force at Silverstone will remain in force for the 2019 and ’20 editions of the French enduro.
Vasselon stated that the agreement does not cover Le Mans for two reasons. “The gap should have been much closer at Le Mans because of the lower energy release per kilometre for our cars. At Le Mans we have 55% less [hybrid] power,” he explained. “At the main marketing event of the year we also need to keep this one-lap advantage; it has to do with the marketing value of the series. Hybrid cars should be seen to be running longer”
Vasselon said the increase in the weight of the Toyotas to 904kg would probably cost them half a second per lap, but he refused to be drawn on whether the changes would allow the privateers to mount a challenge. “How close they are may vary from track to track, so it is difficult to predict,” he explained. “What we don’t understand is why the big change for Silverstone did not alter the situation. The advantage the privateers should have gained from Spa to Silverstone did not materialise.”
Asked if this was the final EOT change, Vasselon (below) replied: “The last one was meant to be the final one, so we should be at the end of the story.”