The 2020-25 regulations for the top tier of endurance racing were officially approved today. ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil explains the key elements.
Isn’t this performance window system just another BOP?
Vincent Beaumesnil: "No, it’s not. Balance of Performance is a system that was drawn up so that very different models of cars could race each other in the LMGTE class. The six manufacturers currently involved field competitive cars despite the marked differences between the street-legal versions on which they are based.
The 2020 LMP1s are prototypes built according to technical regulations. These regulations are designed to curb expenditure while guaranteeing a high level of performance and closely-fought competition, and to give private teams a real chance of winning.
ERS, engine and aero performance levels are all governed by values (such as aerodynamic efficiency, specific fuel consumption and power output). While this is already the case with the current LMP1s and the hybrid system energy level (8 megajoules per lap), the 2020 regulations will go a step further. When manufacturers reach the limit values, they will realise there is no point in spending more money on developing their car.
The aim is not therefore to balance the performance of the cars in relation to each other, but to curb the “development at any cost” strategy that saw budgets rocket with the previous generation of cars. So, no, it is not BOP. "
This new category appears to be a deluxe Super GT class for the wealthy. Is that a fair assessment?
Vincent Beaumesnil: "The 2020 LMP1 class will remain a category for ultra-high-performance prototypes bidding to win a major world championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The current spirit of great marques battling it out on the track will still be there, but they will be working to much smaller budgets and facing opponents from the private sphere capable of stealing the limelight. The regulations should encourage manufacturers to produce cars that resemble road vehicles. Body shape will not be dictated by aerodynamics (which will be strictly regulated) but by the marque’s distinctive design features.
Manufacturers may nonetheless extrapolate a street-legal version of their racing car if they wish. The prototypes will therefore be a lot closer to the hypercars seen out on the road."
What will be the purpose of the LMP1 class? Will it continue to demonstrate new technology?
Vincent Beaumesnil: "Yes, of course. The cars will still be hybrids. Where it gets interesting is that, now, we are looking to promote cost-efficient technology. Gone are the days when money was no object. LMP1 will therefore be a more realistic technology demonstrator that meets market demands and keeps the green edge of hybrid systems."
What will be the spur for privateers to challenge the manufacturers?
Vincent Beaumesnil: "The performance windows set for the aerodynamics, engine and hybrid systems will level the playing field. The direct impact is that a team’s ingenuity, know-how and overall approach will make a greater difference than the depth of its pockets."