The rule set due to replace the current FIA WEC LMP1 class for the 2020/ 2021 season is on track for formal adoption by the FIA in early December.
That was the message from senior sources in the FIA WEC hierarchy at Fuji Speedway last weekend, where more details emerged of the package that will be offered to both manufacturers and privateers for the next iteration of top-class racing prototypes in ACO-rules racing.
An outline of the new regulations was presented to the FIA’s World Motorsport Council (WMSC) last week with the full rules now due to be sent to the FIA Endurance Commission on November 9, before being submitted for formal approval by the WMSC on December 5.
Before then though, a rapid-fire series of board level presentations is set to be completed, with seven manufacturers welcoming a group including ACO President Pierre Fillon, FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille and WEC CEO Gerard Neveu.
Whilst those manufacturers are believed to include companies that have been fully engaged with the development of the rules, including Toyota, Aston Martin and McLaren, RACER understands that others have requested the presentation in follow up to an information pack that was sent out by the ACO.
As far as the rules themselves are concerned, there has been significant progress made since June when the outline concept was presented at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Work has been done on further containing costs through restrictions in available areas of development for the new cars. The cars are set to feature a single ‘mild’ hybrid system, operating on the front axle only.
The performance window for the cars has been established, and offers real opportunity for entrants to consider a wide range of engine options: engine power is restricted to 520 kw (just shy of 700 hp), and there is no restriction on engine architecture, meaning that either road-derived or pure race engines can be selected.
The regulations will again govern both performance and fuel consumption.
The hybrid system will be restricted to a 200kw motor (c.270hp) with the amount of energy still to be confirmed. There is, however, a cost cap to be applied to the system in an open market for homologated hybrid systems – all systems must be available to any privateer team that wishes to utilize them at a fixed cost of two million euros ($2.3 million) per season for two cars.
The performance window applied in the regulations has been designed to ensure that any escalation of development is contained. A team could spend on development, but will not be permitted to perform outside the performance ‘window’. That, in turn, should mean that the racing in the top class stays close, not only between any manufacturer entries, but also for any privateer takers for whom the same controls will apply.
The 2020 regulations are designed for an initial five-year lifespan, although evolutionary updates are allowed either for styling purposes, or to recover performance if they are not reaching the ‘window’, as well as for safety and reliability.
Outside of the styling and powertrain, the other major topic of discussion for the new regulations has been the potential budgets and cost controls. Additional measures now proposed in the interests of cost control include:
- The adoption of a single tire supplier, felt to be entirely appropriate with such a tight performance window being applied.
- Restrictions on testing, including no testing during overseas season, no access to the cars outside race weekends, adoption of three ‘collective’ tests (including two endurance tests) of two days apiece plus four free test days.
- Limits on numbers of engines and ERS systems available for use during a season.
- Limitation on crew numbers.
- A single pit stop area per two car team (except Le Mans) meaning that pit equipment and personnel costs will be reduced.
It is currently envisaged that a two-car team from a manufacturer could be delivered for 20 million euros per WEC season ($23 million), and that a privateer team, benefiting from the open market and cost control in hybrid powertrain costs, could do the same for around 16 million euros ($18.5 million), again for a two-car effort.
There would be no restriction on any team decision to spend more, although additional spending would not allow any team to run with any performance advantage.
The name of the new class is still to be decided and will be determined early next year after a public polling of industry and, in particular, fans, starting with around 10 alternatives featuring the key words and phrases involved in the definition of the new cars.
Note: The images contained within this story are are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to indicate that any make or manufacturer is confirmed as part of this process.