Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Bamber: 'Would've been too easy' if new marques beat Toyota in 2023 WEC

Cadillac driver Earl Bamber says it would have been "too easy" if new Hypercar manufacturers had dethroned Toyota straight away in the World Endurance Championship this year.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

Toyota Racing

Toyota held its own against an onslaught of new LMDh and LMH car makers in the WEC in 2023, winning six of the seven races and sweeping both drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles.

Its only defeat of the season came at the Le Mans 24 Hours, where it narrowly lost out to Ferrari following a controversial Balance of Performance change in the run-up to the centenary edition of the French endurance classic.

Some fractions of fans had previously put Toyota’s success entirely down to a lack of works opposition, without taking into consideration how strong an operation it is, but the 2023 season allayed any lingering doubts about the capabilities of the Japanese manufacturer.

Bamber, whose Cadillac team finished third at Le Mans this year, said he knew it was never going to be easy for new Hypercar manufacturers to be on the same level as Toyota in 2023, recalling how strong it was in 2017 during Porsche’s last season in LMP1.

“We need to work hard in the winter to make that jump to catch Toyota but, at the same time, my expectations would be that Toyota would be very strong,” said the Kiwi, who won the title on Porsche’s LMP1 farewell with Timo Bernhard and current Toyota driver Brendon Hartley.

“Because when [Porsche] left LMP1 in ‘17 they were already at a massively high level and they have kept the same group of people together, drivers and everything.

“If you expect that you can come in and beat them so easily it would be a little bit too easy because they are a great team.

“It's like coming in Formula 1. You are never going to catch Red Bull and Mercedes in Year 1. 

“I think it's really nice that you've got such a high-level manufacturer and operation to aspire to. We are trying to catch them as fast as we can.”

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa, #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Kevin Estre, André Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa, #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Kevin Estre, André Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

Bamber’s former Porsche colleague and current Proton Competition driver Neel Jani also stressed the importance of Toyota’s structure in its current success, having largely carried over the same personnel and processes from its time in LMP1.

Porsche, by contrast, had to start from scratch after leaving WEC’s top class for six years before returning this season with the 963 LMDh.

“Toyota has a lot of strengths, but first and foremost is operation,” Jani explained in an interview with Autosport.

“It’s all the same people as LMP1, and before that they were doing Formula 1. Everyone else is far away from that. 

“They can go after issues in a different way, because they still have the same structure in place. A lot of other people have gone all over the place; Porsche now has nearly nobody left from the time. From my point of view, that’s their biggest advantage - not just the car or BoP.”

Peugeot’s Loic Duval said Toyota’s advantage over the Hypercar field goes beyond sheer pace, explaining how the GR010 Hybrid is extremely consistent throughout the stint and is much easier on its tyres than other cars.

“I still feel that Toyota has something else,” the former Audi LMP1 star told Autosport.

“I’m not talking performance, because on performance we can be close, but with the experience they have, I believe in terms of tyre management, they are far away from all of us and this makes the difference. 

“Throughout the race and each stint, they have a big advantage on us because on tyre degradation they are really on top of their game. In the end it doesn’t matter if you are a second per lap quicker in qualifying. 

“What you want is consistency in a stint. What they have been able to do, with the performance window we have, is to have a car that can perform without being aggressive on the tyres. 

“You see it in any conditions, or whether they use more or less downforce. They can play the game to perform all through the stint and not be affected by those changes. 

“Whereas some cars that are more ‘pointy’, they have an operating window but if they fall out of this window they struggle. For them, the window is huge.”

Be part of Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article WEC's tyre warmer ban may be lifted at Le Mans again in 2024
Next article Losing highly-competitive LMP2 class from WEC a “shame”, say drivers

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe