Redefined LMP1 category of the FIA WEC announced for 2018

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Following this week’s meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris, motorsport’s governing body has announced a number of changes were approved regarding the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) ‘Super Season’.

The 2018-2019 season will include the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, whose 2019 staging will be the season finale of the WEC. The season format is completely new, and will also see the introduction of some new regulations.

The existing top-tier of the championship will simply become LMP1, open to both hybrid and non-hybrid entries, whilst the world championship title will now be awarded to a team and no longer to a manufacturer. In addition, from now on only the highest-placed car within a team in each race will score points towards the world championship for teams’ classification. 

ACO, regulator for the WEC, has set three priorities for the new format to achieve: Welcome more manufacturers and private teams, control budgets, and retain the championship’s reputation of ‘avant-garde technological character’.

The regulations will see manufacturers not allowed to enter non-hybrid cars, however, they can supply engines to private teams. Branding a non-hybrid car is possible under certain conditions for a partner, including a manufacturer.

The technological equivalence between normally-aspirated engines and turbos have now been made official. The current LMP1 regulations will be applied for a minimum of three seasons (including one season with the cars complying with the new regulations currently being drawn up).

From 2018 onwards, teams will also be able to change tyres and refuel at the same time. Thus, the time spent in the pits will be different, which will impact on race strategy.

For 6-hour races, points will be allocated as in 2017. For the 24 Hours of Le Mans an additional 50% of the points for 6-hour races will be allocated. For Sebring an additional 25% of the points for 6-hour races will be allocated.

“The format of the 2018-2019 Super Season and the new system of allocating points depending on the different races as well as the notion of a single car, the highest placed of two entries entered by the same team, guarantees a hotly-contested championship and close competition between the teams,” explained Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. “The structure of this new championship looks promising.”

“While we wait for the very encouraging 2020 regulations, these new regulations for 2018-19, together with the positive feedback we have had from teams about the Super Season, will guarantee an incredible level of competition in LMP1,” added Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA WEC. “With no fewer than five GT manufacturers in LMGTE Pro, and increased interest at this stage from gentleman drivers in LMP2 and LMGTE Am, things are looking good for fans of endurance racing in particular, and motorsport in general! We can’t wait for 2018 to arrive.”

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive portfolio. Prior to joining the company, John worked for leading automotive design website, Car Design News. Currently editor of Engine Technology International, Professional MotorSport World, Professional MotorSport Circuit, and Transmission Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web and social media content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as chairman of the annual Professional MotorSport World Awards.

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