Decision on Porsche’s LMP1 Future Due This Month

Photo: Porsche

A decision on Porsche’s future in the LMP1 class is expected to be made by the end of this month, according to team principal Andreas Seidl.

Speculation has intensified in recent weeks that the German manufacturer could exit the FIA World Endurance Championship at the end of this year, despite its current contract being through the 2018 season.

Multiple reports in German media, including leading publication Sport Auto, indicate that a return to the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year is unlikely, with Porsche instead looking to allocate its motorsports budget to Formula E and potentially a Formula One engine program.

While Seidl declined comment on the matter, he confirmed that the fate of the LMP1 program will be made clear soon.

“I think there’s not more to say than what is around in the press and we have to simply wait now for the next decision,” Seidl said. “I have nothing to comment on this at the moment. We expect a decision at the end of July.”

Should Porsche pull the plug, it would leave Toyota Gazoo Racing as the only LMP1 manufacturer, casting serious doubts over the future of the WEC and its world championship status.

TMG Vice President Pascal Vasselon admitted “it would be a problem” if Porsche withdraws, although indicated that, as of now, they plan to be on the grid next year.

 “We cannot talk for Porsche,” Vasselon said. “At the moment, with the situation we know, our management is committed to next year. The rest I cannot say what I don’t know. 

“What would be our position? I just don’t know. It’s something very new, which is still not a fact, so it’s a bit premature for us to elaborate on it.

“In case the rumor is true, it’s not a good news for sure.”

Vasselon said continuing its LMP1 hybrid program, despite no competition, could be justifiable due to the large amount of R&D budget associated with it.

He remains optimistic of the long-term future of the class, in the wake of the ACO’s announcement of the 2020 regulations, which are aimed to attract new manufacturers.

“For us it would make sense to continue for this reason and for the reasons Peugeot will arrive,” Vasselon said. “We expect Peugeot or others will arrive reasonably soon.

“We will re-think our strategy when we will know if the boundary conditions change.”

45 Comments

  1. Dave

    July 15, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Well maybe Toyota can win Le Mans then?

    • jaysfan

      July 15, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      They’ll find a way to choke it away!

  2. Luc

    July 15, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Or ByKolles. At least they thought the could have won at Le Mans 😂😂

    • P

      July 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      I think in 2018, its DPi for ByKolles.

      • tracer

        July 15, 2017 at 4:34 pm

        Erm, what?

      • Thomas

        July 15, 2017 at 11:07 pm

        Ah no

  3. P

    July 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Porsche might go to DPi.

    You’ll never know, it could happen.

    • Thomas

      July 15, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      Except it won’t.

  4. Mamozrenesis

    July 15, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Should Porsche really quit, there will be no reason for Toyota to stay and fight against ByKolles or the LMP2s. Obviously Vassellon can’t say this thing at the moment, but they will quit as soon as Porsche will do.
    Really bad situation for ACO and WEC, especially if you consider that at Le Mans 2015 there were 11 LMP1-HY (3 Audis, 3 Porsches, 3 Nissans and 2 Toyotas).
    What will they do? Beg IMSA’s pardon and ask “please, can we use your DpI?”
    Let’s see what happens!

    • guest

      July 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      ACO is too stubborn to allow DPIs. If they didn’t dream it up, they don’t want it.

      • GridS2plaza

        July 15, 2017 at 5:03 pm

        It’s not the ACO. They might welcome DPi’s which in reality might make for an interesting 24 hours. LMP2 and DPi could run in separate classes like in the old days when IMSA classes were included at Lemans.
        It would make for a possibly more interesting race since rather than on 1 of 4 cars having a chance at overall victory the overall win would be open to multiple classes and many more potential winners.
        Even P1 consisting of non-hybrid privateers with a chance at overall victory would be more interesting than knowing at the outset only 1 of 4 cars has a legitimate chance to win the race.
        It’s the FIA that will never accept DPi cars as part of a world championship.
        One only has to remember the FIA did not launch the WEC until after the Intercontinental challenge was beginning to gain traction with the ACO and IMSA doing all the start-up work.

        • GR88

          July 15, 2017 at 6:08 pm

          FIA will accept whatever classes the ACO wants, they run the series on behalf of the governing body. DPI is an LMP2 with bespoke bodywork and engine afterall. It could be a separate class or part of LMP1.

          The only certainty (IMO) is DPI will not be part, or balanced with, LMP2. LMP2 is for privateers with strictly controlled costs. If they accept DPI its to encourage manufacturers and boost the number of entrants going for the overall win. Balancing with LMP1-L makes more sense.

        • OV106

          July 15, 2017 at 10:42 pm

          DPi to Lemans makes good sense. With the addition of Penske/Acura next year and who knows.. maybe Alonso driving! (along with Montoya and Castroneves) If not, then the US/IMSA will gladly hold its head up high with increased competition.

    • Jenner

      July 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Now sure what the future holds for Porsche, but they did come back to compete and win Lemans after a long abscence from top flight Sportscar racing. They accomplished goals. It was a pleasure and joy for me to watch them race and meet the drivers. I hope we get to see them more in the future, but if not, well, “that’s racing”.

      I’ve seen some amazing teams, cars, drivers in my racing days. Enjoy them while you can, nothing last forever in racing.

      Some of my racing highlights: Seeing Mark Donahue racing at Laguna. Impromptu pit and truck tour of the CART Players Team from Greg Moore during a winter test at Laguna. Was at the Corkscrew when Zanadi passed Herta. On the straight for the Bermeister/ Magnassen finish.

      I doubt we’ll see DIP racing at Lemans any time soon. Until we see teams in Europe actually racing them in a series over there, like ELMS, they’re always be a car that doesn’t fit into their rule book.

      • Richard Reeves

        July 16, 2017 at 4:13 pm

        It’s Donohue, Zanardi, Bergmeister, Magnussen and Le Mans.

  5. Kyle

    July 15, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Porsche is definitely leaving. Toyota will stay for a year and race against the non-hybrids, hopefully winning Le Mans finally. But if Peugeot doesn’t announce their return early next season. Toyota will leave at the end of 2018.

    • GR88

      July 15, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      There are upsides to both scenarios.

      The current regulation set is designed to appease Porsche and Toyota. Peugeot aside it doesn’t look like any other manufacturer is imminent with an LMP1-H program. In the event of a Porsche withdrawal (and possibly Toyota), the biggest race in the world and a World Championship title, then becomes a realistic prospect for other manufacturers. Peugeot in particular appear a shoe in with reduced budgets. On the privateer side there would likely be an upswell in entries beyond the dozen or so expected next season. Its all about grabbing the opportunity when it presents itself.

      And this is without factoring in the possibility of DPI’s (maybe in an upgraded LMP1-L form) entering Le Mans and the WEC.

    • Grand Am Fan

      July 15, 2017 at 10:30 pm

      The Porsche-Crawford would kill the 919 hybrid at Daytona.

  6. the boot

    July 15, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    This is very very concerning news. No Porsche No Toyota no WEC? Impact goes well beyond the cars on the track. I imagine these two manufacturers underwrite a good portion of the series budget. Japanese round becomes irrelevant with zero Japanese manufacturers in any class.

    • GR88

      July 15, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Audi where the biggest underwriters of the series. Porsche and Toyota’s budgets are heavily focused on the racing side, although you obviously can’t underestimate their contributions.

      Next season BMW will join the fold in GTE, the LMP1 field will increase (with or without the manufacturers), thanks to the influx of new privateers.LMP2 would likely remain as is (factoring in some teams going to LMP1-L but being replaced), while GTE-Am should see a bigger field with customer 911’s and maybe Ford & Corvette

      On the calender and firmat front big changes have long been hinted at for 2018. COTA and Bahrain look precarious, the series may drop to eight rounds and replace a flyaway with Monza. Japan is a staple of the series with new contract, Japanease fans enjoy sportscar racing, home manufacturer or not. On the format side GTE qualifying races should get the go ahead, while certain race lengths will likely change too.

  7. Matt

    July 15, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks ACO

    • John

      July 15, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Can’t place all the blame on the ACO when the manufacturers have a hand in writing the rules.

      Can’t blame the ACO at all for Dieselgate, which precipitated Audi’s exit, and does no favors for their VAG stablemate, Porsche.

  8. Michael Sørensen

    July 15, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    By the Kolles is leaving after this race

    • GR88

      July 15, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      To develop an all new car, with two chassis planned. They’ll likely be up against half a dozen or more privateers next year.

      • Andrew

        July 15, 2017 at 4:57 pm

        Yet none of the cars are built and NONE have been ordered. So there are NO LMP1s as of now and I’d expect zero before half a dozen

        • TF110

          July 16, 2017 at 1:01 am

          You missed the news? The Ginetta is tunnel testing now and on track by September or October. That’s before the current season ends. Two orders for the Perrinn have been placed also. Then there’s ByKolles with a new/updated car.

      • Helmut

        July 16, 2017 at 12:23 pm

        And we all know that the new ByKolles is going to suck just like the current LMP1 and like the Lotus LMP2.

        • TF110

          July 16, 2017 at 5:15 pm

          Yeah you got tonight’s lottery numbers? Who is “we”?

  9. GR88

    July 15, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    It’s July, with cars hitting the track later in the year to begin testing

    BR/Dallara are designing a car on behalf of SMP as a factory effort. They built seven LMP2 cars and will offer the new LMP1-L to customers too.

    Perrinn have sold three chassis (two race, one spare), to a team not currently in WEC.

    Ginetta have committed to ten chassis (six race, three spare, one test). Ginetta is now a major world constructer and single handedly kickstarted LMP3.

    ByKolles are curtailing their season to design, build and test well before the end of the year. Many doubt them, but they’ve always been on the grid.

    It’s healthy to have scepticism, but the parts are in play like LMP3 and LMP2 before it. This is the time of year when deals will be worked on and signed as thoughts move to 2018.

    • Andrew

      July 15, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      And yet everyone is surprised that Ginetta doesn’t have any orders yet or even offers apparently.

      It’s not skepticism, it’s being honest. If every car that was announced was built we’d have hundreds of prototypes running all over the world. Yet, we don’t. Saying we will have these cars running is clueless, we MAY have as many as 8 LMP1Ps, prob will have 2 at most.
      I’d put money down today an LMP2 will be on the overall podium next year, and probably a small wager on leading outright at LM next year

  10. Lets do some E

    July 15, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    REMAIN CALM!!! ALL IS WELL!!! (Animal House reference). Seriously though, why would Porsche go to F1? Formula E makes sense but I think Audi would be more likely for enterance into Formula 1. Also, LMP1-L in 2018 would seem on face value to look relatively healthy with BR/Dallara, Perrinn, Ginetta and a new updated ByKolles coming into the fold. Three of those teams are supposed to be building multiple chassis for purchase by customers.
    I believe DPi acceptance by the ACO would be a stretch, maybe only if DPis were upgraded to LMP1-L performance. Remember, LMP2 is supposed to be specifically for privateers only and DPi is sort of manufacture based/supported, so I’d think that would be a non-starter for the ACO.

    • Andy Flinn

      July 15, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      It is a non-starter. The ACO forced LMP2s to race a spec Gibson engine to intentionally divert manufacturer interest into LMP1. Then, they banned DPis from Le Mans and the rest of the WEC.

      It hasn’t worked for LMP1 and it won’t work in the future.

  11. jason

    July 15, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    If Porsche leaves. I hope Toyota decides to go too. That would make the battle for the Le Mans win a very interesting place with new privateer LMP1 teams going for it. But this year showed that they need to focus on reliability because the LMP2 winner will be there to pounce as well.

  12. Grand Am Fan

    July 15, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    Bring back the Picchio, Fabcar, Coyote, Chase, Doran, Multimatic Ford Focus, Riley, Crawford….the real prototypes! Prototypes should bang with each other in the corners.

    • Thomas

      July 15, 2017 at 11:12 pm

      😂 epic trolling

    • Kurt

      July 16, 2017 at 8:19 am

      I don’t know which is more funny. Your overall post, or the fact that you named the Picchio first.

      • Helmut

        July 16, 2017 at 12:25 pm

        No fan of the DP era, but the low-tech 333 SP, Mk III and so on were nice too watch.

        • Kurt

          July 16, 2017 at 1:24 pm

          I agree. But I think he is referring to the DP Turtles, not the WSC cars.

        • FLB

          July 16, 2017 at 1:57 pm

          The 333 SP wasn’t low tech when it came out in 1993. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  13. Anonymous

    July 16, 2017 at 3:49 am

    I suspects the decision has already been made, Porsche are out, partly through a lack of results and as continued fallout from the VW emissions scandal!

    Where does this leave LMP1 in 2018?

    2 cars from Toyota for the WEC (possibly 3 for Le Mans)
    2 cars from BR Engineering/Dallara for SMP Racing
    2 cars from Perrinn (rumoured to be for the Morand Team)
    Between 2 & 4 cars from Ginetta for various teams including ARC Bratislava & Manor
    Possible 2 cars from ByKolles (But I personally doubt these will turn up)

    Ok so there is only 1 LMP1-H team and Toyota will probably withdraw at the end of 2018 unless another manufacturer turn up.

    • Mamozrenesis

      July 16, 2017 at 6:11 am

      Should Porsche really quit, has Toyota anything to earn by fighting against LMP1 privateer? In my opinion NO!
      If they win, they have done nothing special! If they lose (for example due to a mechanical failure or a race accident) it will be a disaster!

      You need strong opponents to make your victory special!

      I have maximum respect for those people building LMP1-L cars but in a clean race they can’t fight against the Hybrid Toyotas for more than 2 or 3 corners.

      • TF110

        July 16, 2017 at 8:49 pm

        Porsche had no problem in the past running against private teams. Why does it matter? An lmp2 almost beat Porsche this year. Just because you’re facing private teams doesn’t make the race win any less significant. Maybe not as prestigious but not any less difficult or important.

    • FLB

      July 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      I agree. I also suspect the decison’s been made or that it’s just a formality at this point.

      But for Porsche to do what exactly, I’m not sure. For Audi, it made sense not just for Dieselgate, but also to redirect R&D funding towards electric and autonomous technologies.

      • Anonymous

        July 17, 2017 at 5:00 am

        Porsche seem to have 2 immediate option

        1) Formula E entry (possible but with Audi already present)
        2) DPi Entry (Team Joest are looking for a partner and who better than Porsche!!)

        Just my thoughts but they seem the most immediate possibilities

  14. Steven

    July 16, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Will it be like 2004 and 2005 when a privateer won Le Mans as there was no factory support? Normally once manufacturers feel they want to pull the plug, the privateers really step up their game. If Porsche and Toyota leave. Expect Ginetta’s 10 chassis all to be sold and even Ligier and Oreca up their game to produce a LMP1.

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