Sebastien Buemi feels the latest round of success handicap produced “very artificial” racing, with the Toyota driver raising safety concerns over the rate of closing speeds to LMP1 competitors in Sunday’s 4 Hours of Shanghai.
Buemi and co-drivers Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima finished a distant second to the race-winning No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson after running a flawless race in their Toyota TS050 Hybrid.
It came after a frantic opening few laps that saw the Swiss driver intermingled with LMP2 cars and even struggling to overtake GTE cars at times.
“It’s just very artificial,” Buemi told Sportscar365. “We have a car that’s quicker in the corners and under acceleration but we lose everything on the straight, so it’s a very artificial fight that I think at some points are nearly dangerous.
“Because we have something like 50-60 kph difference at the end of the straight. I don’t really think that’s safe if you are fighting in the same category.
“The GTs are overtaking us back. I feel like it’s a bit too much from a driver’s perspective.”
Co-driver Hartley echoed Buemi’s comments, saying they had a “very difficult” day in traffic although was proud to have come away unscathed.
“I think the other cars also had to get used to us not having the same top speed we normally do,” Hartley told Sportscar365.
“In the end we still had no mistakes and maybe had a few battles with the LMP2s to try and lap them. I think Seb had a good battle with a LMP2 car in the beginning.
“We generate our lap times so differently compared to the LMP1 non-hybrids.
“In some ways I think the success ballast was maybe a little bit too extreme but we were still very motivated today to try and do the best race we could.
“I think we succeeded on that but Rebellion did a good job and didn’t make any mistakes and they executed their race as well.”
While Shanghai has been considered to be the most extreme example of the FIA and ACO’s new balancing system, next month’s 8 Hours of Bahrain could see more of the same, according to Buemi.
“The problem is that it’s not going to change for Bahrain because the Ginetta is still going to be [the reference],” he said.
“Compared to Rebellion it’s going to be a bit less bad but compared to the Ginetta, it’s not going to change. And compared to the GTs, is also not going to change.”
Hartley: Team Cars Should Be on Equal Success Handicap
Hartley, meanwhile, has voiced his displeasure on the variable success handicap, which will again split the Toyotas on performance in Bahrain.
The No. 8 Toyota, which finished second in Shanghai, will have a larger handicap to the third-place finishing No. 7 car after entering this weekend on equal points and thus the same level of handicap.
“The only thing that’s not fun is that we also have the success ballast with the sister car,” Hartley said.
“Today we were completely equal on success ballast and I’m really proud of the job we did in our car.
“But the next race it’s going to be like Fuji where we had an advantage and the next race they’re going to have an advantage.
“To be perfectly honest, it would be nicer if we had the same car at every race.”