The FIA and ACO’s revised new-generation LMP1 regulations are due to be presented to the World Motor Sport Council in December, according to ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil.
Earmarked for the 2020/21 FIA World Endurance Championship season, the new rules will replace the ACO’s rapid-charging plug-in hybrid concept, which has been mothballed in the wake of Porsche’s exit from LMP1 competition at the end of this year.
Meetings have been ongoing between manufacturers, including Toyota and McLaren, in recent weeks, which Beaumesnil said has been productive, but is still in the early stages.
“We are conscious that we need to agree as soon as possible on a good regulations,” he told Sportscar365.
“We are in the middle of it. We’ve had some meetings with a lot of manufacturers. There is some interest and very good ideas. We are working on a good plan.
“I’m really confident. We still have the target to propose to the World Council the guidelines of the next rules in December, including the year of introduction, which is not confirmed yet.”
While not necessarily indicting the launch year of the new regs could be delayed, Beaumesnil reaffirmed the current LMP1 rules, which will see hybrid and non-hybrids equalized, have been locked in for at least the next two seasons, through 2019/20.
“Definitely there will be one year of grandfathering,” he said. “We always do that because people who have invested [in cars] need some time.”
Initial discussions have also taken place with IMSA, although Sportscar365 understands the prospects of a shared LMP1/DPi platform have hit a road block in recent weeks, and currently appears less likely.
Beaumesnil, however, remains hopeful in “trying to have” the same vision.
“We’re still at the beginning as it’s a long process,” he said. “But I think it would be nonsense not to evaluate this with them for sure.”
Toyota, McLaren Involved in Future Regs Discussion
Despite not yet committing to a return to the WEC for next year, Toyota has been actively involved in helping shape the future regulations alongside prospective LMP1 manufacturers.
“We’re trying hard to bring it in the correct direction for us,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon. “It’s up to us as well to contribute to this process.
“We are actively making proposals in the direction which for us makes sense and not only for us… We are trying to contribute in the most constructive way.”
McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown said they’ve also been in the talks, having revealed to Sportscar365 in August a desire for the British manufacturer to mount a LMP1 program should a common formula be adopted in both IMSA and the WEC.
“We’re very active in those conversations,” Brown told Sportscar365 this week. “Right now, [the FIA and ACO are doing] due diligence on what everybody wants, so they’re kind of in research mode. But we’re going to stay real close to that.
“If they can come up with a formula that is technically relevant, competitive and commercially viable, then it’s something we would definitely consider.”
Vasselon said it’s too early to determine what the LMP1 grid could look like in 2020, as a number of factors are still at play, including the Japanese manufacturer’s own commitment to the class.
“It’s difficult to say because no one has committed,” he said. “At the moment there’s interest from several manufacturers but it’s true that no one has yet committed.”
Peugeot’s Decision “Doesn’t Change Our Direction”
Beaumesnil, meanwhile, has refuted claims that Peugeot’s decision not to re-enter LMP1 has changed the FIA and ACO’s direction for the future regs.
It’s understood the French manufacturer had been against the initial plan for 2020, which called for a 1km stretch of all-electric driving following each pit stop.
“We’re continuing our mission and direction,” Beaumesnil said. “The decision of Peugeot did not change anything.
“For sure we made a lot work for them to explain and to also understand what they like. We deployed a lot of efforts for that.
“But again we don’t make the rules for one manufacturer.
“In the end they don’t come, they don’t come. It’s for their own reasons, but for sure on our side it did not change our direction. We are quite confident in where we go.”