No, we are not talking about a sequel, or even less a remake, of the famous film ‘Fight Club’. Rather this can be considered a skilfully directed parody by FIA and ACO direction. Reluctantly, the protagonists of a silent film will be pilots and teams gagged and forced not to talk about the BoP, under penalty of a fine of an unspecified amount (hopefully it doesn’t consist of a ‘crucifixion in the canteen’ of Fantozzi’s memory).
The FIA World Council, meeting in Bologna, approved the Technical and Sporting Regulations of the FIA WEC. In the over 100 pages that make up the latter, we read about the much talked about and discussed BoP:
“The WEC Committee will decide how to implement the BoP […]. Manufacturers, competitors, drivers and all persons or entities associated with them must not try to influence the establishment of the BoP or comment on the results, including through public statements, media and social networks. Any violation of the aforementioned principles will be sanctioned by the Stewards at any time and during any competition, even after the race”.
With a few lines, the FIA and ACO have decided to put a gag on one of the thorniest issues that could characterize the next season of the World Endurance Championship, for better or for worse. Cross and delight of the last seasons of the WEC, the BoP (Balance of Performance) is an increasingly discussed topic in the category. If, in the last few seasons of the LMP1 era, this system made it possible to keep the show alive between the Toyota TS050 Hybrids and the endothermic Rebellion R13s, already with the introduction of the LMH class, the BoP began to create some discontent. The fight between the Toyota GR010 Hybrid, the Glickenhaus 007 and the former LMP1 Alpine, as well as the latest addition to the Peugeot 9X8, created quite a few headaches in the control room.
What we will witness, starting from the 1000 Miles of Sebring 2023, will be a real renaissance of the world Endurance scene. Ferrari, Toyota, Peugeot and during construction Isotta Fraschini with their hybrid Hypercars, Glickenhaus, and perhaps Vanwall ByKolles, with their LMHs driven only by the petrol engine, will compete against the LMDhs of Porsche and Cadillac to which they will add , starting in 2024, BMW, Lamborghini and Alpine.
Balancing prototypes based on 2 different regulations, coming from diametrically opposed technical backgrounds, will be a very delicate operation. It will be necessary to equate the LMDh, rear-wheel drive hybrid cars derived from the LMP2, both with the integral hybrid LMH and with the ‘simple’ endothermic LMH. The official commitment of the car manufacturers, despite this difficult economic situation, will constitute a further element of pressure on the FIA and ACO who will have to try to ensure that all the cars on the track can compete on equal terms for victory.
Xavier Mestelan Pinon, Technical Director of the FIA Sport division recently spoke on this topic: “The regulation is decidedly open for both hybrid and traditional LMHs, in order to offer a high level of performance on the track which translates in spectacular races for the public. For this reason, for each prototype, there is only one aerodynamic design and a maximum power ceiling (500 kW). All to avoid a dangerous increase in costs, as well as trying to equalize the cars right from the start”.
Pinon also briefly illustrated how the BoP is drafted: “To balance the cars we have a system capable of measuring the torque of each car in real time. Measurements are made using sensors placed on the transmission shaft of each individual car. Thanks to this system, and to other technologies in continuous development, we will work in close synergy with ACO to guarantee the correct BoP of all the LMH and LMDh that will be present on the track”.
On paper, there is nothing to complain about, also because it is objective data collected in the field. However, the circuit variable will play a fundamental role from time to time. Furthermore, it will also be necessary to ‘read’ the strategies of the various teams, if they try to hide their cards on the table in the Prologue and then express their full potential only in the race.
By now the BoP has become a topic of discussion, also used by the various teams as a cause or justification for a poor performance. In a historical period dominated by social networks and by an alleged freedom of thought and expression, the media gag that is intended to be placed between pilots and enthusiasts clashes, and not a little. On the other hand it is not surprising, seen as recently decided by the FIA regarding political or religious statements in the name of a much vaunted, and questionable, neutrality on the part of the International Automobile Federation. After this trailer, we just have to wait for March 17 for the film to be broadcast and the acronym BoP to be banned.