Porsche GT Team has “big doubts” on whether AF Corse has been showing the full potential of its Ferrari 488 GTE Evo in recent FIA World Endurance Championship rounds.
The German manufacturer, which is interlocked in a near dead-heat battle with Ferrari for the GTE manufacturers and drivers’ world championships, enter Saturday’s season-ending 8 Hours of Bahrain with further questions after last weekend’s six-hour contest.
Porsche scored a 1-2 class finish in the 6 Hours of Bahrain amid a pre-event Balance of Performance adjustment to the Ferrari that was made outside of the category’s automatic system, utilizing the ACO’s so-called ‘black ball’ rule which is permitted in the regulations.
A further adjustment has been made ahead of this weekend, which has reversed half of Ferrari’s turbo boost reduction it had prior to the six-hour weekend.
“The FIA/ACO never explain BoP changes, which is their right and we fully understand,” Porsche’s head of WEC operations Alexander Stehlig told Sportscar365.
“If you look on the past season, we have a clear understanding why they [made the pre-6H Bahrain change].
“We analyzed all races based on timing data, facts and we could see in the past WEC races that we get the opinion that Ferrari has not shown its true pace in these races.
“Especially the Spa and Monza races, we have doubts that they showed their true performance.
“We base it on facts, analyzing the complete field by looking at amateurs, looking on pros, looking at LMP cars, it’s a [multi] dimensional thing.
“We have big doubts what we have seen. But I can only base it on our analysis.”
Stehlig said while they did not agree with the latest BoP adjustment, also considered a ‘black ball’ change, they “respect” the FIA and ACO’s decision.
“We do not agree,” he said. “But the FIA/ACO have much more data than us. This we respect.
“From our point of view and facts and analysis that we put as a base, we wouldn’t have changed [the BoP for 8H Bahrain]. For us it was a tough but normal [6H Bahrain] race.
“At the end of the day we always trust in [the FIA and ACO] and have a good relation. They don’t need to explain to us; it’s fine.
“They will make the right decision.”
Ferrari declined to comment on Porsche’s allegations when reached by Sportscar365.
“I can tell you we are pushing 100 percent,” Stehlig added. “We did last time also [in the 6H Bahrain].
“We want to get the championship. We want to be ahead in both championships.
“We do our race and we will do our best possible and then hopefully the better one wins.”
FIA/ACO Using “Data Driven” Methods for BoP
While not commenting on individual BoP adjustments, the FIA and ACO have stressed that their “common goal” is to deliver “fair competition” on technical and sporting levels.
“In the FIA World Endurance Championship, together with our partners at the ACO, we constantly work on refining and improving the accuracy, however this is an ongoing process,” said FIA technical director Xavier Mestelan-Pinon.
“Defining the BoP is challenging and complex as there are numerous parameters, while performance references keep evolving from race to race.
“However, any BoP decision is purely data-driven and there are no factors other than data influencing the BoP. The whole process is fully transparent to the competitors.
“The on-track performance is obviously not entirely dictated by the BoP. BoP levels the playing field and the rest is down to the competitors – the teams and the drivers.”
Thierry Bouvet, ACO Competition Department director added: “The ACO and the FIA are using all the possible tools, the know-how and each decision taken together as the WEC Committee is driven by data and there’re no other factors influencing the process.”