Le Mans 2015 provided motor racing fans with the spectacle and on-track excitement that many have been craving, and has subsequently cast increasing attention on F1’s current shortfalls – both in terms of entertainment and technical innovation.
But could an F1 car race in the world-famous endurance event? Lotus technical boss, Nick Chester, thinks so.
For the fans
The event, which was won by an active F1 driver for the first time since 1991, has received widespread praise from drivers, fans and the media alike.
In fact, social media was awash with commendation from fans throughout the 24 hours of intense and close competition – despite some confusion over which hashtag to use (three were actively circulating during the race), the official #LM24 peaked at over 74,000 tweets on Saturday, with over 155,000 individual uses in the last week.
Many fans commented on the excitement of the race compared to F1 – often called the pinnacle of motorsport – with British broadsheet The Telegraph commenting “80k Brits descend on Le Mans for F1 antidote”.
But what’s the difference?
Unleash the beasts
Former F1 driver and pilot of the second-place Porsche at this year’s Le Man 24 hours, Mark Webber, provides an ample explanation when speaking with The Telegraph: “F1 is finally having a look at itself, which is nice. They need to. I’m a huge fan of motorsport, a huge fan of F1, and I want it to be something people look up to.”
“I mainly think about the drivers. If they’re happy, and one the edge, and it’s risky, pushing the boundaries, then the fans love it. At the moment it’s [F1] not like that.”
The Australian continued to comment that the advances in technology at Le Mans have made the cars more attractive to motorsport fans, calling them “extremely futuristic, sexy – beasts to be tamed.”
F1 at Le Mans?
In response to much of the criticism that F1 has raced in the days since the classic endurance race concluded, Nick Chester has commented that he believes an F1 car now win at Le Mans following regulation changes over recent years.
The current engine regulations mean we have an engine and gearbox which could cover the race distance and that certainly wasn’t the case in the past. The current F1 car could go in an endurance race such is the performance life of so many of the parts these days. Maybe it’s something we should talk to the ACO [Le Mans governing body] about. It would be a lot of fun and I’d love the challenge of engineering an F1 car for a 24 hour race.”
Such a spectacle would be a real treat for global motorsport fans. Although with more open regulations and recent advances in technological innovations in endurance racing, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the LMP1 cars give F1 a good run for their money.
Will it ever happen? Probably not, but we can dream…