FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu expects overall budgets in the LMP1 Hybrid class to be slashed under the newly announced 2020 regulations, revealing that the plug-in hybrid technology will be a single specification among all manufacturers.
The ACO and the FIA announced the planned regulations for 2020, ahead of last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, placing a great focus on cost reduction and electrification.
Under the new regs, hybrid-powered cars will be required to complete the first kilometer after each pit stop under full electric power, as well as crossing the line to finish the race in the same manner.
While measures such as cutting the number of staff members at races, limiting wind tunnel time and focusing on collective testing leads to reduced costs, the announcement of a new plug-in hybrid system appeared to counteract that by adding a greater expense for manufacturers.
However, when asked about the forthcoming regulations at the FIA Sport Conference in Geneva on Wednesday, Neveu said he believes that common technology will be used between manufacturers for the plug-in hybrid system, in order to keep costs at a minimum.
“They did not go into details to explain to people [at the ACO Press Conference], but what I understood is that the budget will be reduced [a lot] compared with the current budget, because they will share, for example, all the e-plugging system on the pit lane,” Neveu told Sportscar365.
“They will be the same. No R&D on this part. Common technology.
“And what I understood also is that if we continue without hybrid, it’s totally stupid because it’s nothing to do with what’s happening on the streets.
“I think it’s a good compromise. We are not in 2020 [yet], so they will still continue to discuss in details. They will improve more and more and more.
“But that is the probably the right direction: a compromise between costs that we have to reduce drastically, definitely, and at the same time, find a way to keep a technology exposure on this stage.”
Neveu said determining the basis of the regulations between all of the interested parties, including the FIA, ACO and manufacturers both currently inside and outside of the class, has been a compromise.
“It was a very difficult exercise for the FIA and ACO to find the right way. The process they have used to do it is quite interesting,” he said.
“Never forget that this is a permanent consultation with the manufacturers involved or the potential manufacturers rejoining the championship.
“We knew since the beginning that the first point, absolutely the first one, was to reduce the cost of this technology in this category due to the economic situation around the world, which is very easy to understand.
“On the other hand, and at the same time, all the manufacturers say that you should cancel all the notion of… high technology on this category. [But] it does not make sense, because it has always been in the DNA of Le Mans and sports cars, because there is a direct link with a relevant car.
“Never forget that manufacturers, they are not here just to race. The first thing they have to do is sell cars. That’s their target. I would say that I think these new regulations are a good compromise.”
Neveu’s belief that budgets will drop in LMP1 comes at a time when Porsche is rumored to be considering its future in the category, potentially leaving only Toyota to race on in the WEC’s premier class.
The ACO’s push to bring in a third manufacturer to make up for Audi’s shock exit at the end of last year is yet to bear fruit, with Peugeot showing few signs of rejoining the LMP1 ranks, and no earlier than 2020 if it does materialize.