Toyota concedes "conceptual mistake" in LMP1 handicap system

Toyota has conceded that the LMP1 system of success handicaps it helped draft for the 2019/20 World Endurance Championship incorporated a conceptual flaw

Toyota concedes "conceptual mistake" in LMP1 handicap system

The Japanese team's technical director Pascal Vasselon, the key architect of the system, believes the handicaps should not have been applied to individual cars but across the two cars of each team.

"We made a conceptual mistake when putting in place the system," admitted Vasselon.

"The system should have applied per team and not per car: this is probably the biggest mistake we have made.

"We should have done it per team, and if we had, we would have had a fight between our two cars at every race."

One of the major criticisms of the system designed to give privateers the chance to win races in front of the Toyota TS050 HYBRIDs and keep the independent teams in the hunt for the championship was that it destroyed the battle between the two Japanese cars.

This was brought into focus in the final round of the 2019/20 WEC in Bahrain last weekend when the two Toyota TS050 HYBRIDs ran unopposed.

PLUS: Why LMP1 shouldn't be remembered for its bitter end

The #8 car driven by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley was unable to mount a challenge to the sister car because it was penalised by 0.54s, as team-mates Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez sealed the championship with a dominant victory.

The intra-team fight at Toyota was one of the highlights of the 2018/19 WEC superseason, the first campaign in which it was the only manufacturer in the top class of the WEC.

But Vasselon also argued that the increase in the per point, per kilometre coefficient on which the handicaps were calculated was also wrong.

This was changed from 0.008s to 0.01255s ahead of the first deployment of the performance penalties at round two of the 2019/20 campaign at Fuji in October of last year.

"The second issue we have was that the co-efficient has been increased and we were asking too much of the system," he explained.

"The gaps between the cars were just too big."

The change was made by the FIA Endurance Committee after it reviewed the performance of the LMP1 field at the opening round of the season at Silverstone in September 2019.

The handicaps were calculated on the basis of the gaps between the cars in the championship table, minus points scored for pole position and up to a maximum of 40 points.

Vasselon insisted that the success handicaps did the job for which they were devised because Rebellion Racing won two races with its Gibson-powered R-13 and would have had a mathematical chance of taking the title at last weekend's Bahrain finale had it contested the race.

Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato were 30 points behind the best-placed Toyota after the Le Mans 24 Hours in September, with 38 points available for winning the eight-hour race in Bahrain and one for pole position.

"The system is working: the Rebellion drivers could still have won the championship, so it did the job," he said.

He described success handicaps as "virtuous" and "better than the Balance of Performance", the means of levelling the playing field that will come into force in the new Le Mans Hypercar class that replaces LMP1 in the WEC for next season.

"Success handicaps are much better than BoP, where there is always a guess and you can win or lose on the margin of error [in the estimation]," said Vasselon.

"Success handicaps are fully objective, there is nothing subjective about it: you score points, you get a handicap."

The idea of the BoP was introduced for the LMH division last summer when the initial scope of what was originally intended to be a class open only to prototypes with a front-axle energy retrieval system was widened to include other car concepts.

This included machinery based on road-going super-sportscars, a route that Aston Martin intended to take before shelving its programme with the Valkyrie.

"Next year in LMH there will be a full BoP, because it seems there is no other way," said Vasselon.

"We are not fans of the BoP, but we have to accept it because we need competition."

The new Toyota LMH car, which tested for the first time last month, is due to face opposition WEC from prototype machinery developed by stalwart WEC entrant ByKolles and niche sportscar manufacturer Glickenhaus.

The Signatech squad will also run one of the ORECA-built Rebellion P1 cars rebadged as an Alpine and slowed in pace to equate its performance with the LMH machinery.

shares
comments
Conway: WEC title makes up for Le Mans disappointments
Previous article

Conway: WEC title makes up for Le Mans disappointments

Next article

Montoya to drive in full 2021 WEC season with DragonSpeed

Montoya to drive in full 2021 WEC season with DragonSpeed
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Plus

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, were voted as Autosport's greatest sportscar in 2020 - here's why

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Plus

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause Plus

The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause

Track limits are the problem that motorsport doesn't seem to be able to rid itself of. But the use of so-called 'sausage kerbs' as a deterrent has in several instances only served to worsen the problem, and a growing number of voices want to see action taken

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2022
The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return Plus

The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return

The Peugeot 9X8 will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend. The French manufacturer has gone radical and will be hoping it doesn’t need to overhaul its contender, as it did with its first Le Mans challenger…

WEC
Jul 8, 2022
Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination Plus

Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination

OPINION: Peugeot will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend with the 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar that has ignored design conventions by eschewing a rear wing. Its distinctive look will help sportscar racing appeal to fresh audiences as a new golden era is ushered in

WEC
Jul 7, 2022
How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes Plus

How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future Plus

How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022
The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans Plus

The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans

Three young Britons will make their first starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend in the highly-competitive 23-car GTE Am field. But how did they get here? Autosport hears their stories.

Le Mans
Jun 7, 2022