Connect with us

FIA WEC

Neveu: “Impossible to Imagine” LMP1 Without Hybrid Technology

FIA WEC boss Gerard Neveu sees future for hybrids in LMP1…

Photo: Toyota

Photo: Toyota

FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu has admitted that it would be “impossible to imagine” the upcoming set of LMP1 regulations without hybrid technology, amid talks with manufacturers on the scope for 2020 and beyond.

Neveu, ACO President Pierre Fillon, as well as other leading representatives from the FIA and ACO have continued discussions with current and prospective LMP1 manufacturers on the 2020 regulations, which are due to be released, conceptually, at Le Mans next month.

“Clearly if the question is, ‘What do you feel about hybrid technology?’ It’s impossible to imagine that we’ll cancel hybrid technology in LMP1 at this moment because it’s in the DNA of endurance and the reason why this championship is so attractive and exciting for the people,” Neveu said.

“This is also the story of Le Mans, since the beginning. Le Mans is the starting of the story of the championship.”

The biggest change on the horizon, Neveu said, is a larger focus on cost reduction, although not necessarily by reducing the level of technology currently seen in the class today.

He stressed that an “intermediate way” has to be achieved between technology and costs.

“We cannot continue with an idea that this championship can cost more than $100 million Euro [per year] because you have to develop and do a lot of R&D,” Neveu said.

“You have to take into consideration the global economic situation, the fact that you have to be ready to attract other manufacturers and if it’s too expensive or difficult, and there’s a very limited number [of manufacturers], we’ll stay in the fragile position as this is the case today and this is also not a good way.

“We have to find something very reasonable. That [doesn’t mean] it’s not interesting. Reasonable means accessible.”

Fillon said they’re aiming to give an equal chance to varying levels of hybrid technology, unlike the current regulations, which slightly favors cars in the 8MJ hybrid subclass.

If achieved, it could allow a manufacturer such as Peugeot an easier and more affordable entry point into the class.

The French manufacturer is understood to be nearing a decision on a possible return to the LMP1 ranks for the new wave of regulations.

“The question is not the number of hybrid systems,” Fillon said. “The question is how you can spend with the same performance and same chance.

“The idea is for the new rules is that, ‘OK you can spend X million if you want to… but you will take no advantage.’

“But two hybrid systems is not double the price of one hybrid system. That’s important.”

Neveu added: “The question is, ‘How much do you have to spend to be competitive and to continue to improve the new technology?'”

Fillon and Neveu said other measures, including a further reduction in testing and introduction of a Formula One-style “token” system are also ways to reduce costs but fell short of confirming that either measure would be implemented.

“At the end, we are here to try to help the different competitors, any level, LMP1, LMP2, GTE, to find the best average to have a long story for us,” Neveu said. “At this moment, the main concern from the top of the different brands… is budgets.

“The market is working not so bad currently but they have to be careful with the budgets and we have to listen and understand that.

“So we have to adapt and find all the different process to help them to do it.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Matt

    May 17, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Nah racing without hybrids would be awesome

    • Bakkster

      May 17, 2017 at 9:54 am

      The cars got significantly faster and more spectacular with the hybrids, they’re definitely worth keeping around.

      • Cactus Tony

        May 17, 2017 at 10:40 am

        Significantly more expensive and significantly smaller entries, too. But hey, we have the machine that goes PING!

      • Helmut

        May 17, 2017 at 11:29 am

        It’s very easy to end up with faster cars, just give up restrictions. In the past the ACO always claimed that they didn’t want the cars go too fast due to safety issues, but nowadays they don’t really care any more, at least not to the same extent, as it allows them to come up with new records. I think it is more dangerous to have a car that accelerates very quickly & goes fast through corners than a car that reaches xyz km/h at the end of a straight. The hybrid LMP1 certainly correspond to the former.

  2. WBrowning

    May 17, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Yep, dump them.

  3. Max

    May 17, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Yup. Agreed with the general sentiment. The concept is cool but we’ll all keep watching if Hybrid tech goes away. If they want to be “relevant”, the small displacement turbo is a good concept to run with.

    • Helmut

      May 17, 2017 at 11:25 am

      The cars in the WEC are just not “relevant”.

  4. Steven

    May 17, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Scale the hybrid power back then to 2MJ tops. The cost is just way too much for new manufacturers to join. Its the same problem as F1, the new teams will always be behind and playing catch up to the technology.

    • kv

      May 17, 2017 at 11:24 am

      I agree STEVEN,THE power level is at OVERKILL ,and more attention should be given to the flybrid and power storage solutions.Getting NASA and other aerospace involved to develope a cost effective system ,makes a lot more sense !

      • Matt

        May 17, 2017 at 4:50 pm

        The power level isn’t overkill, they could easily be making even more power with advanced turbo engines. The costs are overkill because hybrid systems aren’t efficient on a $/power basis.

  5. Helmut

    May 17, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Oh yes, the WEC is “so attractive”… that’s why we have so many LMP1 teams…

    If there is no more advantage for the higher hybrid categories then there is no point to go with those, as more systems means higher costs and less reliability. Whatever.

  6. Mike W.

    May 17, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    People want screaming V8s, V10s, and V12s, not cars that buzz as they go by..

    • KW

      May 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Yes, old-fashioned people do. People who are looking into the future know that time is definitely running out for V8, V10 and V12. Fully electric, hybrid and fuel-cell engines are the future, no matter if you like it or not. And FIA WEC is a future technology series, not a 1960’s technology series like NASCAR. The only arguable thing is the “technology and power overkill” with the multiple energy sources. This could be done more simple and cost-effective.

      • Mike S.

        May 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm

        Agreed with technology but fans won’t show up to the actual track to silent cars either I am sorry. Has to be a balance. Its not about old fashioned or not. Costs are prohibitive as there is a business as well that needs some % return or sponsors and manufacturers won’t pay to play.

      • Matt

        May 17, 2017 at 4:55 pm

        It’s not the future of racing. If you want people to watch races you still need good sounding cars. If you want lots of spectators at the track you need awesome sounding cars.

      • Andy Flinn

        May 18, 2017 at 7:37 am

        … explains why so many more people actually follow NASCAR, instead of the WEC – and F1 – combined.

        I hope I’m dead before electric motors take over sports car racing.

        Formula E? I don’t care.

        Sorry.

        • Barn Owl Lover

          May 19, 2017 at 6:56 pm

          It’s not the future of racing, not in the near term, anyways. Look at how many problems that pure EV cars still have. Even when Audi market their e-tron quattro EV car, it’s not a cure all, mostly due to limited range. It’s a city car, not necessarily something you’d want to make very long trips in. It’s tons better than most EV cars out there now, but also points that there’s a ways to go to make them truly mainstream.

          Hence why we have hybrids in racing, and why about every car maker has one in their line up. Hybrids aren’t fault-less either (hybrid cars are usually heavier than those just with gasoline or diesel engines, though that extra weight is doing something at least), but they don’t have most of the problems that pure EVs have right now.

          Granted, the Audi diesels are proof that fans don’t necessarily want loud cars (though they still made considerably more noise than most road cars do), and even the Audi R8 LMP900 was fairly quiet for a race car (low-revving turbocharged engine), but it’s the variety of noise that’s appealing, at least to me.

          IMO, when some of the more persistent problems with performance and range of electric cars get fixed, then we can talk about them getting a foot hold in racing. Even as trendy as it is, Formula E, with mid-race car changes, does still showcase the most fundamental problem with EVs–endurance and range.

  7. TF110

    May 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Hybrids are not super expensive. They are available to the masses thanks to Toyota Honda Ford etc. Audi was the team spending the MOST money and guess what, they had the LOWEST amount of hybrid power. The only thing that is making the costs go high is the limited scope of development in other areas because of the strict rules on aero and the engine. Open the rules up to allow more than just turbo engines to be competitive and make the aero rules easier to be competitive instead of the spec things like the diffusers.

    • Matt

      May 17, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Yeah I still don’t understand why the diffusers are spec in the top level prototype series. The tracks are plenty safe for these cars.

  8. pop

    May 17, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    yeah i love tiny fields of hideous looking and sounding cars

    GT is where it’s at

    • TF110

      May 17, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      So why are you commenting on an article about prototypes if “gt is where it’s at”? The GTE class is a bop game, that’s not where it’s at imo.

  9. N8

    May 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    The financial landscape has changed over 5 years. At the dawn of the “green” era, the idea was to use marketing budgets that promote sustainable technology in place of motorsport budgets that had been cut. That’s not really the case anymore. OEM’s have money to race with and they’re not spending it on sustainable technologies, they’re spending it on GT programs.

    Doesn’t really matter what WE want. The ACO needs a rule set that’s going to attract more players than we’ve got now and it should absolutely not be limited exclusively to manufacturers. I read “amid talks with manufacturers on the scope for 2020” and think that infers that no one cares what Ginetta, or Kolles, or Rebellion, or SMP, or anyone else with a desire to build a prototype without an automotive brand tied to it has to say. Toyota, Peugot and BWM all want something completely different and I don’t see how you can satisfy them all, or why you should when you’ve got privateers chomping at the bit to get into the game.

  10. tom welsh

    May 17, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Imagine a LMP1 race without another class, 4 cars? Go for a large field of cars using GT drive trains and P1 chassis. Encourage companies that spend big $$ to use their motors in more than one platform.

  11. TF110

    May 19, 2017 at 2:50 am

    These comments weren’t here when Audi was participating. What’s the difference between lmp1-h having Toyota vs Porsche and F1 having Ferrari vs Mercedes? In both series, no other cars have a chance to win. But in the wec you have multiple classes so it’s not just lmp1. And with the news of today that Perrinn have sold two cars, lmp1 is getting a big boost next year. Then in a couple years time, we’ll probably have Peugeot rejoin.

  12. GridS2Plaza

    May 19, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Realistically how many factory efforts does anyone really expect to be in LMP1 at the same time. About the time Peugeot rejoins, Toyota or Porsche will pull out.

    What people want is a field of top level cars with more than 4 to 6 cars that have a chance to win and everyone else chasing lower class wins.

    Whether the engines are turbos, normally aspirated big bore engines or hybrids, the goal should be greater participation. This is only achieved when some level of cost capping makes the category affordable for both factory and privateer efforts with both having a chance for overall class wins. Until manufacturer’s start selling customer cars top level prototype racing will also be short-changed.

    If technology is the thing maybe driverless LMPs should be considered since the predictions are self driving will be a thing of the past in 10-15 years.

    LMP1 throughout its evolution has always suffered from a limit of diversity, growth and shortage of car counts whether in early IMSA form or now. I don’t think anything controlled by the FIA will ever build seriously competitive diversity in its top class fields.

    Imagine a 20 car LMP1 field. It would be a wonderful thing, but the North Pole will completely melt from climate change before that happens.

  13. Barn Owl Lover

    May 19, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    LMP900 had more diversity than LMP1 has had over the past few years, as did first generation LMP1. It always seems that when the ACO downsize engines or in this case push for a new technology, teams get disinterested and you only have a handful of factory teams pushing on.

    Here, the ERS Incentive is almost entirely to blame. Not every car maker wants to race a hybrid to market them. And not everyone who wants to run a hybrid want to be pressured by default to run at the highest category.

    Originally, and as Audi Sport thought when they homologated their 2014 car in Dec. ’13, it was choose a hybrid category, all would be allowed about the same energy, and you were free to do what you want with it. Then the ERS incentive kicked in, and you were pretty much painted into the corner of running a 8MJ gasoline or a 6-8MJ diesel to keep up.

    If all MJ categories were created the same along the lines of equal energy and near equal stint length (which is what screwed Audi out of several wins last year), we’d probably have a couple more factories involved right now instead of them playing a wait and see game with the 2020 rules.

    Not to mention that not everyone wants to spend the 280 million Euros that Porsche have been alleged to have spent last season alone (which makes them by far the biggest spender nowadays, not Audi Sport)to run in a niche sport with relatively little mainstream media coverage. It’s not good for ROI and quickly pushes things into the realm of diminishing returns, partly what lead to the Audi Sport pull out (rising costs for relatively little ROI, won about everything of importance at least once, done gasoline DFI, diesel and hybrids to death, intra-group politics at Volkswagen Group–dieselgate is just a good cover story/opt out until 2020 or when ever Audi come back or Porsche leaves).

    Costs do need to be cut and variety inserted into LMP1 to make it appealing to likely manufacturers and teams to pull the trigger to get back in. That’s what Peugeot wanted, and they seem to be getting their way. We do have to remember that Peugeot were the ones who wanted the hard cap of 3.5MJ and strict limits on deployment and regen of hybrid systems, even though they left before the 2012 season began. And those hybrid systems that Audi and Toyota ended up with weren’t insanely expensive.

    How they got that way was because the ERS Incentive, giving teams three years to exploit said rules originally (Audi and Toyota having new cars for ’16 pushed back the expiration of the current regs until end of this season, and the Audi Sport pull out and TMG and Porsche getting ready to cry uncle pushed those regs back to 2020), and the ACO pushing a policy to make the development of such hybrid systems be the main way of improving performance, to the detriment of variety, and of other simpler, cheaper ways to do the same.

    Hopefully the 2020 regs will reflect those hard learned lessons, or the ACO will repeat history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in FIA WEC