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Drivers, Team Bosses Praise Auto BoP After First Season in Action

FIA WEC GTE-Pro drivers, team bosses happy with Auto BoP’s first year in action…

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

Drivers and team bosses from the GTE-Pro class of the FIA World Endurance Championship have praised the automated Balance of Performance system following its first year in action, but stressed there’s still room for improvement.

Following controversy over the management of BoP in 2016, the FIA and ACO implemented a new, automated system to remove human involvement.

The battle for the drivers’ and teams’ championships in GTE-Pro went down to the final race of the year in Bahrain, with Ferrari, Ford and Porsche all being in contention for the crowns.

AF Corse ultimately clinched a clean sweep of titles for Ferrari, with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi taking both the drivers’ and teams’ championships to add to the manufacturers’ crown clinched in Shanghai.

BoP was a topic of debate for many when reflecting on the season, with Ford WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell giving the automated system a glowing review.

“It’s been a resounding success,” Howard-Chappell said. “The auto BoP system was something that everyone in this room worked on together to try and improve the situation over what we had before, and I think most people would agree it’s an improvement.

“It’s not necessarily perfect, but it is an improvement, and I think it’s killed a lot of the squabbling and bickering that was going on when it wasn’t an automated system where we knew what the result was.

“Clearly it’s still open to a bit of gaming, and if that’s what you choose to do you can do that. But as a system, everyone knows what’s coming and it appears to work. The racing’s very close.

“I think the one remaining thing is the way it ends up balancing the car means that they do a very similar lap time, but they’re not all as competitive as the other cars from a racing point of view, and that’s maybe something that needs to be revised in the future.”

Aston Martin Racing managing director John Gaw was pleased with how the system had worked, even only on a level of removing debate surrounding it after downplaying its significance in the first place.

“Honestly, I think it was always a red herring. I believe BoP was just something to give people an excuse, whereas now it has been taken out of the equation completely, nobody’s talked about it,” Gaw told Sportscar365.

“It’s actually not that important a part of how successful a car is at the weekend. What’s much more important is how the tires react with the circuit on different cars, even though they’re the same brand, because every car uses its tires differently, and you can see that.

“Look at Ford between Shanghai and Fuji. The BoP wasn’t different, the tire wasn’t different, but the performance was different.

“Auto BoP has, if anything, it has taken away that debate which is a good thing. It really is not about BoP. It’s about how you work with your technical partners, it’s about how you work with your team, how equal the drivers are, how reliable your car is – much more important stuff than BoP.”

Title-winner Calado agreed that it had removed much of the complaining over performance, but felt tweaks could be made in the future in order to make it easier for GTE-Pro cars to pass those in GTE-Am through traffic.

“I think in terms of lap time, everyone’s quite similar. There are cars out there with an advantage, some cars are mighty quick in the straights, some cars are good in the corners,” he told Sportscar365.

“It suits different tracks, but obviously it’s difficult on our side not having huge straight line speed, because it makes life very difficult in terms of getting through the traffic, overtaking is almost impossible because even some of the Am cars are quicker than us in a straight line. So this is something that maybe needs to be rectified for the future.

“But saying that, it’s an improvement over the previous years. It’s stopped a lot of the moaning and groaning, and we’ve just got to get on with it.”

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver Harry Tincknell agreed with his team boss’ summation that the BoP system could still be played, with the lack of human review meaning it may go unnoticed by the wider paddock.

“I think you could see early on in the year how there can still be games,” Tincknell told Sportscar365.

“I think making it more mathematical is certainly good. It makes it very logical. You can see if you’re that far ahead, you get that much weight.

“But at the same time, removing the human element means that if you don’t push quite as much as you could, the community doesn’t really know that, whereas a human might maybe be able to interpret it a little bit more.

“I think it’s still open to manipulation a little bit. But it’s been good.

“In the past I don’t think Ford’s had the best reputation, but we came out for the first race, qualified on pole by eight-tenths and won the race – we’ve just been pushing the whole year.

“But at the same time it is frustrating when you’re in a great car like the Ford GT and you get on the power and the car in front just drives away from you.

“In that respect, [Bahrain] is harder than say Shanghai which is a bit more rolling. Here’s a lot more slow speed, stop, turn the car and go.”

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.



  1. Old Trombone

    December 26, 2017 at 9:56 am

    S’Funny, by every commenters’ estimation at Le Mans 2016 Ford benefitted hugely from human-bop and Aston suffered badly. The impression of most fans was that Ford sandbagged ridiculously obviously and the ACO just went along, Ferrari was allowed to follow them at a suitable gap, all to recreate a historical fable, while Aston was the true winner on merit beating Corvette and Porsche in an unnoticed battle down the order. And now, Ford’s mouthpiece says auto-bop is great and Aston’s mouthpiece says bop wasn’t that important anyway. S’funny…

  2. Old Trombone

    December 26, 2017 at 10:07 am

    “But at the same time it is frustrating when you’re in a great car like the Ford GT and you get on the power and the car in front just drives away from you.” Says Ford’s man.

    I wonder what non-Ford drivers thought of Westbrook winning Laguna Seca 2016 with a thimble of gas because the GT has no frontal area and therefore has a huge drag advantage over cars that seat humans on the street?

    I like Doug Fehan’s approach, when Corvette wins he praises the drivers and engineers, we all know Mags and Garcia and Dan Binks, and when Corvette loses we don’t hear much at all except what engineering is going to be worked on. We never, ever, hear Fehan grouching about rules, even when it is absolutely clear the rules are disadvantaging his team. And Corvette’s 8 wins over 18 years say so much more than Ford’s 2016 “display”.

  3. Sir Skidsalot

    December 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Corvette just relied of it’s thousands of minion fanboys to do the whining for them!

    The one thing the Auto BoP did was get rid of the huge pendulum swing changes of the previous year that saw all of the different make cars BoPed out of contention at a couple of races each, and some given easy wins, i.e. the Austin Martins in Mexico, where they over-corrected for the N/A cars in the thin air only to make all the turbos impotent in the race.

    • Mr. Ed

      December 26, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      IMSA does not listen to a few message board “pinheads” accusing each other of being “fanboys”.

  4. Eddy

    December 27, 2017 at 2:59 am

    and Ferrari quietly won the manufacturers title in both 2016 and 2017

  5. juneracer

    December 27, 2017 at 7:38 am

    if the goal is to win championships then a team (or manufacture) needs more staff to look at potential BoP ramifications then setup or race strategy. the last two are easy in comparison. but this is here to stay, at least in the short term.

  6. Sol Shine

    December 27, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    BOP is a disgrace, all it does is drag the best down to the level of the worst. Why would any manufacturer, like, say Ferrari or Ford, who spent hundreds of millions of dollars building state of the art cars, want to see their car dragged down to the level of cars with their roots still solidly in the 50s, like Porsche and Corvette? It clearly offers no incentive to manufacturers to improve the breed, and after all, isn’t that what racing is supposed to be about? If not to improve autos, then why bother with racing? BOP is a shell game, nothing more. Both Porsche and GM know how to play the game, they do their whining behind closed doors, and they get their way while publicly playing the wonderful nice guys. BS.

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