Toyota’s decision on whether it will continue in the FIA World Endurance Championship is likely to be delayed, with “no absolute” deadline having been established, according to technical director Pascal Vasselon.
The Japanese manufacturer’s LMP1 program has been up for review since Porsche’s announced exit from top-level prototype competition in July, with news on Toyota’s future having been expected this month.
However, Vasselon has revealed that a decision is now dependent on confirmation of the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ regulations for LMP1, which will see hybrid and non-hybrid cars compete in a single class.
“The decision deadlines basically have to adapt to the regulation publication deadlines,” Vasselon said.
“We are tracking what happens, so it’s difficult to ask us for a commitment before we know exactly what we’re talking about.
“At the moment, the regulations for next year and for the future of WEC are not clear cut. There’s no point to rush a decision based on what we know at the moment.
“From our side, I don’t think we have an absolute deadline when we need to say yes or no.”
While the FIA and ACO previously indicated that no changes will be made to LMP1 hybrids, which are expected to retain a slight efficiency advantage, Vasselon said they’re awaiting details on what performance allocations the privateers will be given.
“We need to know what will exactly happen, how things will be done,” he said.
“It’s true from our side, our technical regulations has to be frozen just because it’s a FIA rule. We have to anticipate the performance level of the privateers.”
While a decision may not come until the end of the year, Vasselon said they’re moving ahead with 2018 plans, in handling things as if they’re staying.
“At any time, it’s reasonably easy to say no,” he said. “You need to anticipate a decision when you do nothing and want to come back.
“Peugeot at some point needed to make a decision because it was about starting. In our case, it’s about stopping. It’s easy to stop at any time.”
Development Frozen on 2018 Car
Toyota has essentially frozen development of its 2018 car, in the wake of Porsche’s exit as well as news earlier this month that Peugeot will not commit to the LMP1 class in the short-term.
Vasselon said next year’s car will be “very similar” to its current Toyota TS050 Hybrid, should it continue.
“There is no big incentive to continue development on this kind of car,” he said.
“We have progressively ramped down the development because we needed to know where it was going.
“If, really quickly, we would have kept similar regulations and Peugeot restarting in 2019, then we would have kept developing because it makes sense.
“At the moment, it looks like the change of direction [for 2020/21] will be significant, then it was not making sense anymore to actively develop around the current regulations.”