Yesterday (5 December), the new FIA World Endurance Championship ‘hypercar’ rules were released after being ratified by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council. The ‘hypercars’, which are still awaiting their official name, will replace the current LMP1 cars for the 2020/21 WEC season.
One of the main things to have been released in the finalised rules is the use of the engines and energy recovery systems (ERS) past the racetrack. Manufacturers will need to produce road-legal cars, most likely to be Supercars, that include the use of the ‘hypercars’ engines and ERS. They must sell at least 25 units by the end of their first season, with this figure increasing to 100 units sold by the end of the manufacturer’s second season.
Having a production line stem from a race car is not something new to the WEC, as it is currently a regulation for the GTE Pro cars. This rules is to keep the components of the car developed on the racetrack relevant to road cars, and to keep manufacturers using race series not just to fight against other manufacturers in competition, but to develop their road-car technology.
However, the rule does imply that companies such as ORECA, Onroak Automotive and Dallara – who are customer teams to manufacturers – will not be able to make the ‘hypercar’ jump as a manufacturer. It does, on the other hand, really open the door for manufacturers like Aston Martin, Ford, BMW, Ferrari and Porsche to take the step up to the top.
From a technical perspective, the ‘hypercars’ will have a total maximum power output of around 950 horsepower. This number has dropped slightly since being first announced in June, as the output from the combustion engine is 508kW rather than the 520kW originally stated six months ago. The electric unit, however, has retained its 200 kW maximum power output.
Teams can choose to run a turbocharged or normally-aspirated engine in their ‘hypercars’, incurring no maximum displacement or size. For the ERS, manufacturers will have a 3 million Euro cost cap and will only be allowed to supply their ERS to three customer teams. If they wish to supply their ERS to more than three customer teams they will have to seek approval from the WEC.
Size wise, the ‘hypercars’ will be slightly larger than the current LMP1 cars, with a maximum length of 5,000mm and maximum width of 2,000mm. The minimum weight of the ‘hypercars’ is now 1,040kg, meaning they will be 165kg heavier than the LMP1s.
The technical regulations are being opened up a little more for the ‘hypercars’, as the ban on movable aerodynamic kit is going to be lifted from 2020. In terms of development, the manufacturers will be entitled to five ‘EVO jokers’ which they can use at any time from the start of the 2020/21 season to the end of the 2024/25 season. This is to encourage manufacturers to develop their cars without having to bring in a completely new model, meaning that performance gains should be constant.
The final announcement from Wednesday’s rule reveal was that the ‘hypercar’ class will take on the success ballast system. Many GT series run this system, with winning teams from the previous round having something additional added to their car for the next race. Some series use a time penalty in pit stops as their success ballast, but WEC will bring in a weight addition for winning teams.
For each point scored in the last round, the car will have an additional 0.5kg added to the car. The maximum weight that can be added to the car is 50kg. This would be a changing weight throughout the season, not a weight that was constantly added to.
Therefore if a team won the first race, they would have 50kg added to their car for the next race, and if they then finished 10th at the next round, that 50kg would be taken off for race three and the team would only carry 0.5kg of success ballast to the third race.
The success ballast will first be trialled in the LM GTE Am class for the 2019/20 season, so this system should be well established by time the ‘hypercars’ come into play.