De Chaunac: LMP1 Hybrids “Too Complicated” of a Car

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

ORECA President Hugues de Chaunac has hit out at the state of LMP1 hybrid racing, claiming that it’s “too complicated” of a car in the wake of last weekend’s attrition-filled 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Only two of the five factory prototypes finished the French endurance classic, with all of the cars running into various mechanical-related trouble over the course of the race, which saw two Gibson-powered Oreca 07 LMP2 entries on the overall podium.

It marked the worst reliability record since the launch of hybrid powertrains in 2014.

Both Porsche and Toyota each faced motor generator unit failures early in the race, with the Japanese manufacturer forced to retire two of its three cars prior to the halfway mark.

De Chaunac, who serves as a consultant for Toyota’s FIA World Endurance Championship program, admitted that the cutting-edge hybrid technology may not quite be ready for intense 24-hour competitions.

“I think probably that at this level it’s probably too complicated of a car,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s important for us to reduce all this technology a little for something which is less complicated.”

This year’s race saw record-setting lap times, with Kamui Kobayshi smashing the qualifying track record by more than two seconds, despite a signifiant cutback in aero by the FIA and ACO for 2017.

Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl, who orchestrated the German manufacturer’s third consecutive Le Mans victory, despite its winning car spending more than one hour in the garage due a hybrid motor failure, said that the increased race pace likely played a factor.

“I think it simply shows that we push each other to the limit and above,” Seidl told Sportscar365.

“Honestly, we need to analyze it in more detail what the failures really were, because for example on our side, failures like this we’ve never had before.”

Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda, meanwhile, has supported De Chaunac’s comments on hybrids in endurance racing.

Toyoda, who attended the Le Mans for the first time, issued a statement post-race on Sunday, apologizing to the drivers for not being able to “let you drive all out.”

“While the hybrid technology that has advanced through competition in the FIA World Endurance Championship puts its abilities on display in six-hour races, it might be that it is not yet ready for the long distance of the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Toyoda said.

The comments from both De Chaunac and Toyoda come in the wake of the FIA and ACO’s announcement last week, confirming the basis of the 2020 regulations, which is set to introduce rapid-charging plug-in hybrid technology.

While ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil said that he’s quite confident LMP1 manufacturers would get “good results” with the new regulations, which slashes costs in a number of other areas, he wouldn’t go as far to confirm an overall reduction in budgets.

De Chaunac, meanwhile, indicated that the new regs, which calls for cars being able to complete 1 km on full electric power, should be carefully looked at.

“I think it’s something that they have to have a way to evaluate now; it’s something important,” he said.

Porsche’s Seidl has refrained from future judgment on the future until they fully understand what exactly went wrong for them this past weekend, in a bitter-sweet Le Mans for the German manufacturer.

“It’s too early to say,” Seidl said. “We need to analyze this to be honest. I have to digest it first, what happened the last two days.”

62 Comments

  1. P

    June 18, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    With all five Hybrids having problems. Drop Hybrid power.

    Maybe Toyota and Porsche should go to the DPi chassis and join Cadillac, Mazda and Nissan.

    DPi might be at Le Mans next year. Maybe the DPis could be the new P1 field.

    Better and Cheaper option.

    • GR88

      June 18, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      Both teams prioritised performance when they needed reliability. Last year, both manufacturers ran for 24hrs with few issues (23hrs 59m for Toyota). They could have sacrificed 3-4 seconds per lap and won comfortably.

      DPI’s aren’t quick enough to compete against new LMP1-L’s. They could have a place in LMP1-L, but would need a motor and aero overhaul to be competitive.

      • Jake

        June 18, 2017 at 5:42 pm

        I think your thoughts on DPi’s being uncompetitive is horse manure. Just look at how many times IMSA have had to slow down the Cadillac to be in the same ballpark as the Gibson Oreca (the dominant P2 car in WEC/LM) the only P1 non hybrid right now is the Bykolles, which was barely faster than the P2’s. Give Cadillac the option of bumping up the HP from the 6.2L which we all know can be done, and eliminate all the bop requirements, and the DPiV.R would be ahead of the ByKolles on pace alone. If IMSA were to adopt P1 non hybrid regs as they shoukd have done from the onset of DPi, further aero and chassis development could be done at a fraction of the cost of P1H, and could yield similar performance.

        • CR

          June 18, 2017 at 7:34 pm

          ACO/FIA will want to keep the fuel-flow limit in the regulations, and then the DPi will be uncompetitive on power, because LMP2 and DPi cars run much higher fuel mass flow than LMP1s are allowed to.
          You could run the 6.2 in an LMP1 if you want, and Dallara will surely make you a chassis if you ask them, but the engine will need a lot of work to get to the level of the Porsche, Toyota, Cosworth and probably the Mechachrome Engines, even if they were to run without Hybrid.
          Also, if you introduce DPi as top class, manufacturers will still spend manufacturer budgets, because they can.

          • Jake

            June 18, 2017 at 11:50 pm

            I dont know what the fuel flow regs for P1 non hybrid are, but that Cosworth Nissan certainly isnt a fuel sipper. The Cadillac has the least amount of fuel allowed in DPi, so it must be relatively efficient for its power.

            Factories cant enter P1 non hybrid. Thats the beauty. They can build a car, but they cant operate the team.

    • Spyderman

      June 18, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      If Hybrids are dropped, Porsche will be out. They are in it for the technology. It’s what drew them back into the top class.

      • GR88

        June 18, 2017 at 5:39 pm

        Its not an either or situation.

        There will continue to be a P1 hybrid class, it’s been with us for 5-6 years, in different configurations.

        There will also be a resurgent P1 privateer class with more traditional cars. Neither should there be anything preventing DPI’s.

        It comes down to balancing the technology.

        Mnufacturers should be competitive with anything from a 2MJ-8MJ car, a non-hybrid car, or a DPI.

        They all have similar chassis, aero performance and such.

    • John

      June 18, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      The #1 lost engine oil pressure.

      The #7 burned out its clutch.

      The #9 retired due to a collision and the subsequent damage.

      In 2016, the #5 blew a hose between the turbo and the intercooler.

      Can’t pin any of those problems on the presence or absence of a hybrid unit.

      Le Mans is great because it is such a challenge, and even more so now that it’s a 24 hour sprint.

      Is it expensive and could efforts be made to make it cheaper? Yes, certainly.

      However, this is the top class in the world. Perhaps those who like a different, less-costly class could participate in DPi. But the ACO isn’t going to welcome it unless it has to.

      • CookieMonsterFL

        June 18, 2017 at 7:59 pm

        Preach. I am a HUGE fan of Toyota since they joined in 2012, but i’d think they’d be the last people to cry for something like this. ALthough I wouldn’t mind scaling back the tech in favour of more area’s of alt ICE’s, I still think these are wonders of technology that actually faired pretty well for what was definitely the worst race in terms of reliability ever experienced in the hybrid era.

        Granted, all 5 cars experienced problems, but i’m not sure how many of those were caused or related to the hybrids themselves. Only the finishing cars had actual problems with their MGU’s and those are rare even ON TOP of the obnoxious weather.

        What I do agree with though is that while the MGU’s may not have played a main role, they contributed to the losses of a few other hybrids simply for being in the car and requiring the extra presence of that x factor that is just brutalizing Toyota, sometimes previously Audi, and almost Porsche this year.

        I can’t understand the argument for DPi, outside of unifying series which makes little sense in the grand scheme of the world championship, but at least think about addressing this or coming up with more reliability-friendly rules such as requiring min harvested power for a full lap on emergency power, etc. Maybe that might have helped more cars limp back to the pits and ultimately back on track.

        • Jay Vee

          June 19, 2017 at 12:25 am

          “Not Ready For Primetime” Hybrid technology killed the LMP1 class in 24-hr. Now, LMP1 is 2 mfg NOBODYCARES class, the drama was left over from last year.
          Look at what Hybrid has done to F1 – McClaren can’t score a single point with Honda, which is dominating Indy? Huh?
          The hybrid technology sucks – Too expensive too complex and when it breaks you’re done. If you want an efficient car buy a BMW 3-series.
          Euro-Dweeb regulations are to blame for poor racing competition in F1 and LMP1. LMP2 is where the hot racing is, DPi is a better formula than LMP1 attracting more mfg interest.

      • RVail

        June 18, 2017 at 8:43 pm

        Perfect reply.

        Toyota/Porsche are licking their wounds. Both are stubborn companies and aren’t about to go backwards.

      • Dave Spitzer

        June 19, 2017 at 1:57 am

        Great comment. Facts are very useful.

    • CR

      June 18, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      In the current situation, you can’t go away from the fuel-flow-capped rules, which encourage hybrids.
      And if you were to ditch the hybrid systems, the manufacturers would go even more crazy on the engines, with the same results.

      Going to DPi is not a viable options. LMP1 have 17% less fuel capacity than LMP2(and so DPi), but run 40% longer and 10s faster on that.
      You can’t take the tech/efficiency away without taking the manufacturers away. If you make DPis run to the current P1 fuel limit, they become hopelessly slow.

      • Jordan

        June 18, 2017 at 8:30 pm

        ^^^^

        Facts and knowledge.

      • Jay Vee

        June 19, 2017 at 12:27 am

        Euro-dweeb fuel rules – killing racing.
        without the noise and the fumes and the excess WHO CARES?

    • kv

      June 18, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      IT IS THE MEGA MEGA MEGAJOULE RACE, THAT FAILED THE HYBRID ASSAULT.THE BEST THING ABOUT HYBRIDS IS TO SIMPLIFY TORQUE TRANSMISSION !

    • kv

      June 18, 2017 at 8:54 pm

      HUGUES looked more distraught than TOYODA at the TS050 FAILURES !DE CHAUNAC has a dog ,or should I say many hounds in the LMP HUNT !

    • Axl Rose ate my Buick

      June 19, 2017 at 9:01 am

      But how many hybrids already won that race in the last few years? This year, the heat and the state of impressive lap times and competition played a major role in all the retirements.

      Toyoda is just crying his heart out, Audi and Porsche won the same in a state of hybrid grace.

      Also, its time to cut all that DPi talks as the ACO made it clear that their back up plan is P1L.

  2. Steve

    June 18, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I guess we should just go back to reliable 1970, oh wait 7 out of 51 cars finished that one. Hybrid power is the way of the future. This is just another opportunity for racing to improve the breed.

    • Paul Knighton

      June 18, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. Quite right!

    • Axl Rose ate my Buick

      June 19, 2017 at 9:01 am

      Agreed!

    • CD

      June 19, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Well said Steve.

      • Steve

        June 19, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        Here’s a fact for all of you Hybrid haters. 100% of the non-hybrid lmp1 cars didn’t finish. 40% of the hybrids did finish.

        • Andy Flinn

          June 19, 2017 at 5:03 pm

          Steve, really?

          All you did is highlight that there is pathetically only one non-hybrid car in LMP.

  3. AF

    June 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    DPI is not the answer for a world championship. If you compare the rate of attrition this year to last in the top class, you have to wonder where it has come from? The biggest difference was temperatures, and racing under sustained pressure with 59 other cars on track at the same time, something that can’t be replicated in testing. The main thing the race showed up was the lack of a P1 privateer field, something that will likely look very different in 12 months.

    • Jay Vee

      June 19, 2017 at 12:28 am

      P1 Privateers – NOT COMING SOON.

      • Joel

        June 19, 2017 at 3:29 am

        Ah, newsflash; Ginetta and Perrinn are set join lmp1 as privateers next year

        • Guest

          June 19, 2017 at 3:50 am

          Don’t forget 2 BR-Engineering Dallara’s for SMP Racing

          • Andy Flinn

            June 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm

            Don’t forget Peugeot, too. At least that is what they’ve been saying since day one of the WEC – if the series can ever manage to control costs.

  4. Pierre

    June 18, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Until something breaks, you’ll never know the limit. That’s the whole point of going to the limit is to evolve the technology and innovate.

  5. Steven

    June 18, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    The problem is that there is too much of it. Have it capped at 2 or 4MJ and have a DRS. Do not have it like F1 though that you need to be 1 second for it to work. That way more downforce can added for the corners while down the Mulsanne and the run towards Indianapolis can have less downforce.

    • True

      June 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      Super hot take….only problem is that none of the LMP1-H cars that retired did so due to a failure related to their hybrid systems.

      Next.

  6. guest

    June 18, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Hybrids are just for marketing in racing. Get rid of it so we can have a show again.

    • Kurt Maxwell

      June 19, 2017 at 12:50 am

      Agree.

      Five LMP1s is a joke.

      DPi will bring more factory teams. The cost is clearly out of hand and the reason there are so few LMP1 cars.

      Those who think privateer LMP1s are the answer are deluding themselves.

      I like racing. I hate high tech exhibitions with just a handful of entries. That’s what the sport has been about since back when Audi got involved.

      How about a BoP free GTE as the top class at LeMans?
      Mid engined Ford GT, Ferrari &Corvette vs McLaren, Audi, Lamborghini & a new Aston Martin would be my idea of perfect 🏁😎

    • Axl Rose ate my Buick

      June 19, 2017 at 9:04 am

      So do you want a better show than this year´s race?

      Man, is it really possible?

  7. Anonymous

    June 18, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    I would recommend dropping the 8-Megajoule requirement, make it something more practical and reliable, say 4-Megajoule, making certain that the car can at least go the full length of the pit-lane on electric power alone. This in turn might help to reduce costs in the manufacturing of the drive-train.

    I do wonder whether they should look at the F1 hybrid systems, (Except Hondas!!!) Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault have made them fairly reliable, even if the Renault one is down on power compared to Ferrari and Mercedes.

    It would be nice if they just made LMP1, One Class. Allowing manufacturers to build the type of engine they want to use. If Porsche and Toyota stayed, generating what is it? 900-Bhp? Then say (For Example) Fiat gets involved through say its Maserati marque and decides that Hybrids are not the way to go, then the ACO says “fine, if you need a 5.0L Twin Turbo V10, to compete against Porsche and Toyota then that’s fine with us”.

    I know, wishful thinking.

    • GR88

      June 18, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Keep 8MJ but balance the EoT so you can be competitive with 2MJ.

      Extra hybrid recuperation should not go towards better performance,rather better fuel economy. If they could extend stint length by a lap or two, that’s the incentive.

      Likewise, if someone wants to use a big V12,fine, but they’d suffer with poor fuel mileage.

      • guest

        June 19, 2017 at 8:54 am

        EoT is a joke. This series does not reward the better technology with EoT. It makes it so each manufacturer can market their own tech. It’s all about the advertising.

    • Matt

      June 18, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Exactly, let the manufacturers choose whatever tf they want to run. Cost cap it. The end. The could’ve had the cost cap figured out 5 years ago by if now if they had an interest in working on a real solution.

  8. Huh

    June 18, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Don’t these principals keep wanking on and on about how there’s so much collaboration between the OEMs and the organizers on crafting the regulations and how they’re so road-relevant? And they’re certain they’ll attract more OEMs as well? Now when the cars drop like flies they’re too complicated?

    o.O

    • Jay Vee

      June 19, 2017 at 12:30 am

      Precisely – Divorced from RACING concerns – killing the show.

  9. JimB

    June 18, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    The thing that gets me is that, yes, the hybrids are very complicated… which is why you have so few of them on the grid. and by that I mean; back in the day(s), when Porsche had the magnificent 917s, there were factory cars, semi-works and even privateer 917s. Ferrari 512s? Even Roger Penske had one.

    Then came the 956/962s. Seems like anyone could get one (if you had the ‘resources’). And the fields were full racing in IMSA and in series in Europe.

    Can’t do that now. Cars are too complicated.

    Besides, who needs all that hybrid technology anymore? There’s a whole series now racing electric cars. It’s called Formula E.

    • Jeff Williams

      June 18, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Spot on

    • Jay Vee

      June 19, 2017 at 12:33 am

      Agree – It was predictable that LMP2 would climb over LMP1.

      LMP3 – LMP2 – DPi. Exciting racing needs Many Teams. F1 fields 22 and its barely viable.

    • Kurt Maxwell

      June 19, 2017 at 1:29 am

      Well said, Jim. Could not agree more. You must be old like me😎

  10. CookieMonsterFL

    June 18, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    “While ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil said that he’s quite confident LMP1 manufacturers would get “good results” with the new regulations, which slashes costs in a number of other areas, he wouldn’t go as far to confirm an overall reduction in budgets.”

    Ok, I think there needed to be something in the way of budget cuts for these programs. Is there anyone in favor with near 100m per year budgets of these teams? That is not what this class needs right now – clearly.

  11. kv

    June 18, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    The logic of LMP 1 has been to hunt elephant with an Mx missile !

  12. The voice of reason

    June 19, 2017 at 12:12 am

    All you IMSA Dpi Nascar fan boys get the fuck out of here! This site is for respectable, civilized, educated race fans only.

    • Jay Vee

      June 19, 2017 at 12:36 am

      Euro-Dweebs cant afford RACING FUEL anymore??
      Is THAT your excuse for the LMP1 shit-show??
      NASCAR is dropping oval races for more road-courses – DITTO Indy.
      So F1 and WEC WRC are having an impact on younger racing fans.
      WHY KILL IT with dork-ball HYBRID shite?

      • Kurt Maxwell

        June 19, 2017 at 1:31 am

        👌🏾😎🇺🇸

    • guest

      June 19, 2017 at 8:55 am

      DPI is the best. LMP1 is the worst.

      • The voice of reason

        June 19, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        IMSA won’t allow Dpi’s to go over 200mph. WEC LMP2s and LMP1s 210-215ish. So, guest, this must mean you’re a pussy, cause going over 200 is just WAY too dangerous! STFU Nascar fanboy

  13. tracer

    June 19, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Am I the only one here who sees a correlation between the reliability issues of the manufacturer LMPs and the fact that they no longer have the 12 hours of Sebring (and prior/subsequent testing at Sebring) to knock out the cobwebs early on in the cars development path? I have to think that Toyota and Porsche will be taking a long hard look at how and where they tested their respective machinery in advance of the 24 this year, because they clearly just didn’t push the machinery enough or in the right ways to be ready for La Sartre.

    • David

      June 19, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      I don’t understand why they don’t capitalize on Sebring to test. I mean yes a 30 hour test is tough but on a smooth surface and no other cars they arnt pushing the limits. Or Why can’t the p1 hybrids race with the rest of the imsa field? If it’s just a test for them anyways like Audi an Peugeot said in the past and it’s not like it’s for championship points. It’s just one race (Sebring) As we saw in Lemans the p2/dpi cars are fast enough where if something where to happen to the p1 cars they could still win overall.

  14. John

    June 19, 2017 at 6:25 am

    That’s an interesting point. Audi and Joest, as well-prepared as any team, saw the value in testing and competing at Sebring. BMW and Peugeot also participated. And IIRC, Audi still came to test after withdrawing from the ALMS.

    AFAIK, Porsche and Toyota have done all of their testing in Europe, or Bahrain, albeit with 36hr runs (both, IIRC).

    Of course, the question is, how would they fit into IMSA? Even if they couldn’t, they could still test.

    • tracer

      June 19, 2017 at 7:40 am

      Exactly right, John. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the most well sorted cars from Porsche (RS Spyder) and Audi (R8/R10) were those that pounded around at Sebring for not only the 12 Hours, but typically for another 12 to 24 after the race weekend was over. There’s no changing the fact that running the 12 hours of Sebring is no longer an option for these cars, but I think the ACO is contributing to this situation by not having a WEC race longer than 6 hours prior to (or after, for that matter) the LM24. It’s an absolute fact that testing does not come close to pushing a car, drivers or a team like racing does, and I think the current crop of LMP1-H’s are suffering from a lack of sufficient trial by fire outside of the big one. Let’s face it, the majority of the manufacturer proto field lasted about 6 hours this year, then the wheels fell off one by one from that point on.

  15. Luna

    June 19, 2017 at 10:33 am

    De Chaunac has pronounced the perfect epitaph for the LMP1.

  16. CD

    June 19, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Hybrid is fine. They just need more manufacturers involved to improve the competition.

  17. N8

    June 19, 2017 at 10:40 am

    These are some poorly thought out comments. We saw (2) hybrid system failures. Both were fixed, both cars finished, one of them won the race.

    We can debate all day whether there should or shouldn’t be hybrid system, what kind, what size, etc, etc. Doesn’t matter. These are the rules de Chaunac cosigned. Don’t like them? Go to fake championship like Formula E where the racing is cheap and the technology is perceived.

  18. Fabio

    June 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Honestly, everyone is really over-reacting on a simple comment from Toyoda-san. Nobody had anything to say about the Hybrids’ reliability in the last 3 Le Mans, and they were much less developed than now.
    What happened is simply that both manufacturers pushed each other to the limit and beyond. The mere fact that Toyota beat the lap record even with last year’s aero changes to slow the cars down shows that.
    Last year Toyota’s reliability was good enough for 23 hours and 57 minutes, so to say that Hybrids are not ready for Le Mans is ludicrous. Especially when it was Toyota that has always pushed forward with the Hybrids, and made it a condition to joining.
    Toyoda-san’s comment meant simply that they need to keep developing, not any major rules overhaul, dropping hybrids or anything like that, that people seem to be reading into.

  19. N8

    June 19, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    With all due respect, it’s de Chaunac’s comment. Toyoda San only “supported” it. But I whole heartedly agree that the comment is bananas.

  20. John

    June 19, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Given some time to simmer down and reflect, I think these comments will blow over.

    The smaller field exaggerated the two failures, but in a larger field, and in the past, hybrids wouldn’t see as much scrutiny. And to do so ignores the fact that a hybrid failure only affected one of the three Toyotas.

    Hybrid technology is practically synonymous with Toyota, and they’re not going to achieve their goal any other way, any more so than if Mazda would have tried and won with a piston engine.

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