Kobayashi demotivated by Toyota WEC handicap at Fuji

Toyota driver Kamui Kobayashi says he is demotivated by the new system of success handicaps introduced for this season's World Endurance Championship

Kobayashi demotivated by Toyota WEC handicap at Fuji

The Japanese driver believes the penalties designed to slow the #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID he shares with Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez by 1.4s a lap for this weekend's Fuji WEC round leave them with little chance of winning the race.

The #8 Toyota, which finished second to its sister car at the Silverstone series opener last month, has been penalised to the tune of one second, but Kobayashi suggested that the performance differential between the two TS050s was more than four tenths.

"I'm less motivated in the end, because what we can do?" he said.

"If you're a second off a lap, you are maximum second, maybe third — what is there to fight for?

"The gap to the sister car is like more than six tenths; I would say nearly eight tenths."

Kobayashi made his comments after opening free practice during which his best time was almost exactly four tenths down on team-mate Sebastien Buemi's fastest lap in the #8 car.

But the theoretical best lap of the #7 was actually just under a tenth faster than the sister car.

The fastest times set by the two Toyotas in FP2 were not comparable because the #8 undertook a qualifying simulation run and #7 did not.

Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon reserved judgement on whether the penalties imposed on the two TS050s have slowed them by the intended amounts.

"At the moment it is too early to correlate the exact handicap we have received compared with what we were expecting because we are still tuning the systems," he told Autosport.

The extent of the penalties, which are based on the points differentials between the LMP1 cars in the championship, has been revised since they were announced ahead of the Silverstone race.

It was intended that each car would be slowed by 0.008s per kilometre for each point that it leads the last-placed LMP1 entry in the championship.

This has been revised upwards to 0.012s after the performance differential between the LMP1 field at the 2019/20 WEC opener proved to be bigger than expected.

Asked if that had come as a surprise to Toyota, Vasselon replied: "Partly, yes, but in the end we are happy with the idea of success handicaps and this is a tuning of the concept."

The Toyotas have been slowed with a reduction in fuel flow parameters and hybrid power, while the privateer Rebellion and Team LNT Ginetta entries have been penalised with weight.

The unpenalised LMP1 entry, the so-called reference car, at Fuji is the #6 Ginetta-AER G60-LT-P1.

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Series WEC
Drivers Kamui Kobayashi
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Gary Watkins
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