FIA technical director Gilles Simon says the 2020 prototype regulations will not see “extreme” technical development but instead refined areas that will produce a more cost-effective environment for manufacturers.
The new regs, which the FIA has stated is based off ‘hypercar’ concept designs, will be announced on Friday in Le Mans and is expected to be utilized from the 2020-21 World Endurance Championship season.
Released in a Q&A in the latest issue of the FIA’s AUTO magazine, Simon revealed further details on the forthcoming, yet-to-be-named platform.
“The first goal is to have one set of regulations that is not going into extreme technological development, so that we can set a regulation that all the competitors can have access to, but which will be compulsory for everybody,” said Simon.
He said the current proposal, which went through the FIA World Motor Sport Council last week, is based on a number of “limiting parameters” that will eliminate the need for Equivalence of Technology.
“Very roughly, it’s where we control the engine performance, the hybrid system performance and the aero performance, and you define the car with which you want to compete but it cannot be more than this horsepower, more than this kilowatts from the electric [motor], more than these aero figures,” he said.
“We want to set up some physical boundaries and put the numbers in the right place so that competitors can reach them but also have to reach them to be competitive.
“This means that we will not have any Equivalence of Technology – this is, you can make this horsepower with that fuel flow, and the number of cylinders is your choice, the architecture of the engine is your choice etc.
“Maybe it’s because you have some brand identification, you want a four-cylinder, 12 cylinder, whatever you want but you have to go to these figures.
“Aero-wise it will be the same, this is the maximum downforce you can reach and that we measure, and this is the limiting factor, then you are free on the design of the car to reach those numbers.”
The FIA’s proposed budget reduction, which would see manufacturers operating at one-quarter of the current LMP1 hybrid budgets, would put costs in line with current LMP1 privateers, but with hybrid power, according to Simon.
Privateers, meanwhile, will continue to be encouraged to compete in the top class as well.
“With the new LMP1 category, our target is to have it in the same range of costs for privateers at the current non-hybrid LMP1 level, while we include also hybrid technology into it,” he said.
“Not as sophisticated or complex as we have seen in recent years, but quite interesting to have the technology too. So, we believe there will be an interest for privateers to run in the LMP1 category.”
Simon said hybrid systems will be available “at quite a reasonable price” but has essentially ruled out prospects of a spec unit being adopted class-wide.
Sportscar365 understands that manufacturers could be required to make its powertrains available to customers, possibly under a cost-cap format similar to what’s seen in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
Balancing Act with GTE-Pro
Despite multiple GTE-Pro manufacturers evaluating prototype programs under the new regs, Simon has downplayed that it could come at a detriment to the top factory-backed production-based class.
Ford, Aston Martin and Ferrari are understood to all be in discussions to enter the top prototype class in 2020-21.
“I think we are not speaking about the same cars – these are prototypes for LMP1 category, it is not based on specific cars,” Simon said.
“I believe it is quite a different program for manufacturers and possibly with different targets in terms of brand.
“We believe that as it is the GTE category is quite successful and we do not see it reducing. In fact, we even have some potential new entrants that are developing cars for 2020.
“So, we are quite confident the success of GTE will be quite stable.
“I think that the P1 category has the potential to be very attractive because the regulations we set will really be nearer to hypercars than to the current P1s.
“By that I mean they will be extreme road cars. I would call them concept race cars.
“That is, they are concept cars for racing – for big brands and big names if they are not big companies. And I think this will truly engage fans.”