FIA President Jean Todt says he foresees between five to seven manufacturers in the top category of the FIA World Endurance Championship under the new regulations overhaul planned for the 2020-21 season.
Todt has additionally hinted at a name change to the category that is currently known as LMP1.
The developments come amid ramped up talks between the FIA, ACO and manufacturers on the proposed regulations that are expected to be presented next month at Le Mans.
Sportscar365 understands that at least six OEMs including Toyota, Ford, McLaren and Aston Martin are in discussions on the WEC side, with the potential of others, should a deal be struck with IMSA to create a common prototype platform.
Speaking during a roundtable media session at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend, Todt indicated that the new-look regs could see a larger manufacturer presence than the current high-powered hybrid class, which peaked at four automakers (Porsche, Audi, Toyota and Nissan) in 2015.
“To start considering doing something, you need to have a minimum of three manufacturers, and being a success to have ten,” Todt said when asked by Sportscar365.
“We have other categories of motorsport where we have ten manufacturers involved.
“At the top category of the championship, it’s not crazy to think that if we do a good job, and taking into account what needs to be taken into account, I could foresee without being over-optimistic, five to seven manufacturers.”
The new platform, which is expected to embrace manufacturer-specific styling cues, has been referenced by ACO President Pierre Fillon as potentially introducing “GTP-type” cars, which could pave the way for a revised category name as well.
“At the moment, LMP1 is the top category,” Todt said. “In the future, we will still have a top category, but it’s not a given that the name will remain the same.”
While acknowledging the possibility of a shared platform with IMSA, Todt said his “major interest” is to ensure what’s “best” for the FIA championships.
Increased Costs Led to Manufacturer Exodus
Todt believes the escalating costs associated with the current LMP1 hybrid regulations led to the withdrawals from both Audi and Porsche in successive years, and has left Toyota as the lone manufacturer in the class.
“We were in a kind of emergency situation, so being in an emergency situation, we had to find some innovative solutions to prepare for the future. So that’s where we are,” he said.
“I must say I am quite pleased. We’ve been working very constructively and in harmony together, and we’ve been able to find some good solutions with this super championship.
“Clearly by the start of the 2020-21 season, we are quite optimistic to have very good solutions to be able to be proposed.”
Todt said they have some “very good” ideas that will “drastically decrease” the cost of competing in the class, although would not go into details.
He declined to confirm reports of a potential cost-cap being put in place, as suggested last month by FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille.
“Clearly we want to find ways of drastically decreasing the costs and making it more attractive to manufacturers and also to private competitors,” said Todt.