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Plug-in hybrid technology and active aerodynamics will be introduced into the LMP1 division of the World Endurance Championship starting in 2020.
The new technologies were announced for the P1 category Friday alongside a requirement for the cars to complete the first racing kilometer after every pitstop using electric power only. They are part of a rules package for 2020 that has been devised all with cost reduction in mind in an attempt to lure new manufacturers into the category.
LMP1 cars will be able to fast charge their batteries during pitstops. The hybrid-plugin technology is being introduced to reflect developments in the automotive industry.
“It is the conviction of the manufacturers that plug-in hybrids are what they will be selling in five years’ time,” said Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, president of the FIA Endurance Commission “More and more cities are closing their roads to cars that are not zero emissions, so this rule gives a new dimension to our regulations.”
The ‘one-kilometer rule’ also reflects this trend, according to Owen-Jones. He insisted that the cars would complete the first stages of each lap a full racing speeds even without the use of their internal combustion engines.
Owen-Jones revealed that the distance that the cars will have to cover in zero-emissions mode could be increased in future years. LMP1 cars will also have to cross the finish the race only using electrical power.
The introduction of moveable or active aerodynamics is part of the drive to bring down budgets in an attempt to lure new manufacturers into P1. Aero development will be curbed by limiting each manufacturer to one specification of bodywork per season.
FIA technical director Bernard Niclot said: “We consider that if we fix one bodywork for the year we can address the problem of the variety of tracks we race at within a reasonable cost with moveable aerodynamics.”
New caps will be placed on development in the name of cost reduction.
The manufacturers will not be allowed to develop all areas of the car between seasons. Instead there will be a system, akin to the former token arrangement employed for engines in Formula 1, that will allow a set amount of development by each manufacturer.
The number of wind tunnel hours allowed to each manufacturer per calendar year will be reduced from the current 800 to 600.
There will also be further limitations on testing and a drive to organize more collective sessions shared between the manufacturers.
New safety cell rules originally scheduled to be enacted in 2018 will be part of the next cycle of LMP1 rules. The cockpits will be bigger to allow for more space around the driver’s head and the seating position more upright.