United Autosports driver Filipe Albuquerque is calling for a change to the points structure for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, stating the double points on offer for the blue riband event ‘kills’ the remaining title battles in the FIA World Endurance Championship for viewers.
Class winners in the French endurance classic score 50 points, twice as many as during a regular WEC round.
Albuquerque, whose No. 22 United Autosports crew suffered a major blow to its LMP2 title campaign after a low finish last month, told Sportscar365 he does not agree with the championship’s current points structure.
The Portuguese driver claims that the 50 points on offer for the winner at Le Mans creates an unfair advantage, as opposing teams then struggle to close the gap for the remaining rounds of the championship.
“A point that I keep up bringing every year, and it’s just a decision by the championship, I never agreed on 50 points for Le Mans, just because Le Mans is in the middle of the championship and it kind of kills the last three races,” Albuquerque told Sportscar365.
“So if you did well, [in] the first two [races], you win Le Mans, and most likely the other guy almost can be doing zero points, because they finished in the back or they had an issue or a crash or something that is out of their control, they do zero points.
“To recover 50 points, the other guy just needs to drag himself for two races.
“So in terms of the viewers, to be looking at the championship until the very last race, it’s kind of killed by the middle race in Le Mans.
“And winning Le Mans on its own, I think if you go across the paddock and ask ‘what do you want, win Le Mans or the world championship?’
“It’s going to be tight, quite even. So giving the extra points full for Le Mans to win the whole ultimate title I think takes some adrenaline away from the title fight for the end, most likely.”
Albuquerque, who took Le Mans LMP2 class honors with United in 2020, suggested that the FIA and ACO would instead be better off handing out regular points for the race instead.
For that to work, the points structure for the rest of the championship would also need to be altered, because under the current system, additional points are also handed out for eight-hour races, such as the season finale in Bahrain.
Will Stevens, LMP2’s most recent Le Mans class winner with JOTA, said he understands his IMSA co-driver’s argument, but also reckons that the longest race on the calendar should have more points on offer because of the additional challenge.
“I think it is always tricky,” Stevens told Sportscar365. “At the end of the day, the longer the race, the more points there should be on offer.
“Winning a four-hour race or winning a 24-hour race, obviously a lot more goes into it and if you are leading for the entire way, then normal points being handed out – I think there should be a slight difference between a short race or a long race.
“I do get that a good or bad Le Mans can make or break your year, but it’s tough.”
Stevens hinted that the ACO could also look at adopting the system used by SRO Motorsports Group for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, where points are handed out at set intervals throughout the race.
“I don’t think there is any right or wrong way,” the Briton continued. “Some people think that offering points at halfway of the 24-hour race is a good option.
“You are always going to get people who like it if they win and if they have a bad one, they don’t like it.
“So I don’t think there is a right or a wrong answer but I do believe a longer race, Le Mans is the main event of the year and if you execute a good race then you should be rewarded for that.”
“But I’ve been in this championship before where a bad Le Mans puts you out of the championship, so I’d say I’ve been on both ends of it, but I think there’s always going to be a happy guy and a not-so-happy guy.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report