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Aston Martin and Toyota announce entries to new WEC Hypercar class

2019 F1 Season

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Aston Martin will bring V12s back to Le Mans with a race-modified version of their Newey-designed Valkyrie, while Toyota will be racing a modified version of their V6 GR Super Sport concept car.

Hypercar regulations have been a sticking point in announcing the new class and securing entries, which replaces the factory hybrid LMP1 cars – specialist, hybrid prototypes built solely for the race track to WEC’s regulations.

The new Hypercar category does not mandate hybrid power – with cars balanced based on horsepower regardless of whether they have energy recovery systems or not in order to ensure a competitive field. Additionally, the cars can be built either as prototypes or based on road-selling vehicles – provided that the manufacturers builds twenty of them, a short run even for the most exclusive hypercars.

Toyota currently race as the only remaining factory LMP1 team following both Audi and Porsche’s exits – the latter in order to focus research on their upcoming Formula E entry.

In a statement, Aston Martin confirmed that they would be entering two of their Valkyrie hypercars, running naturally-aspirated, high-revving V12 engines. Developed with their F1 partners Red Bull, the Valkyrie was Adrian Newey’s project, incorporating elements of the Red Bull F1 car’s design.

Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group CEO, Andy Palmer said that the Valkyrie was the perfect challenger to the series, with their aim being the 2021 outright Le Mans win.

“We have always said that we would one day bring Aston Martin back to Le Mans with the intention of going for the outright win when the time was right – now is that time. David Brown came here in 1959, with a car and a team of drivers capable of winning. We intend to do the same in 2021.

“The Aston Martin Valkyrie is primed for such a challenge and sits perfectly within the ACO’s new ‘hypercar’ rule framework. What could be more evocative than the wail of an Aston Martin V12 leading the charge into the night on the Mulsanne straight?”

Toyota will be entering a car based on their GR Super Sport concept two-seater car, which when it was revealed had a hybrid V6 system. However, both the road and race car are currently undergoing development – with the name set to be announced when the car goes to track testing next year.

The #8 Toyota LMP1 of Mike Conway, Jose-Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi and the #95 Aston Martin Vantage of Nicky Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Darren Turner have the respective prototype and GT class poles at this year’s 24h du Mans.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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31 comments on “Aston Martin and Toyota announce entries to new WEC Hypercar class”

  1. Man, that is one cool looking concept.

  2. Isn’t this basically what some are asking for F1? Looser rules with the ability to choose whichever engine one likes?
    Very cool concept indeed. I’m not very into long-distance races but I’ll try to follow WEC after this change.

  3. This kinda looks quite cool but I’m really concerned about these hypercar rules. I read that the target laptime for them would be around 3:30s which would put them behind even the current LMP2 field, and over 15 seconds a lap slower than the current (admittedly fastest in history) LMP1 rules. What happens to the P2 class if the new hypercar class is slower? Is it being canned as well?

    1. Lamp2s already run a lot of ballast. I’d guess they could just keep adding more ballast, add restrictors and reduce downforce. I hope they don’t do it with fuel restrictions though.

      1. Yeh, not sure how I fee about more ballast in LMP2. They have been neutered enough as it is.

    2. @mazdachris why does 15-second dip in lap-time matter if it means a packed field of competitive entries? It’s endurance racing, not sprinting…

      Also, that time is a starting point for a new regulation period – manufacturers will push upwards from there.

      1. @optimaximal, it is because it then cascades problems down the rest of the field, as the ACO would need to adjust the performance specifications of every other single class to create room for the LMP1 category.

        Right now, the top LMP2 cars would be five seconds a lap faster than the “hypercar” proposal – if you had set a 3m30s lap time today, it would have put you 26th on the grid, behind 16 of the 19 LMP2 cars. You would need to significantly slow those cars down in order to maintain a suitable gap between the LMP2 cars and the LMP1 cars, but slowing them down would then put them too close to the GTE cars, so they would also need to be slowed down as well.

        It therefore creates a scenario where the ACO has to rebalance the performance specifications of every single car on the grid if it wants to maintain sufficient gaps in performance between the prototype classes and the GT classes.

        It also creates a major headache for what to do about the privateer LMP1 cars, because the ACO had, and still has, no idea what to do with them. The current privateer cars would also be significantly faster than the proposed “hypercars”, but the ACO has previously promised the privateer entrants that they would develop a system that allowed the privateers to “grandfather”, or partially carry over, their current cars.

        You might say that you’re hoping for “a packed field of competitive entries”, but right now there are a lot more privateers than there are manufacturers – there are five privateer teams right now. Screwing over them, and basically screwing over the majority of the cars in the field, to favour two manufacturers actually looks rather short sighted on the part of the ACO, especially since they’re managed to lose two GTE manufacturers recently (Ford and BMW, both of whom are leaving the WEC but continuing with IMSA competitions instead).

        The proposed “hypercar” rules also have the effect of splitting the world of sportscar racing, since it is increasing the divide between the IMSA series in the US and the WEC. The ACO had been trying to blend their rules with those of IMSA’s series, but the IMSA competitors didn’t want the ACO’s rules given that they had the disadvantages of increased costs with no real benefit in terms of performance or prestige – IMSA already achieves higher performance with cars that cost a fraction of the ACO’s proposals (in part because they are based on LMP2 cars).

        @mazdachris, to put it bluntly, behind the scenes the negotiations over the “hypercar” regulations have not gone at all smoothly – there have been multiple rewrites and major changes in concept that have ranged from bespoke racing cars that looked like road cars through to GTE+ (the current GTE cars, but tuned to a higher specification), adopting IMSA’s DPi regulations and now the current hybrid solution of allowing road car derived cars and bespoke racing cars.

        That said, I would be interested to know if Toyota’s safety concerns have been properly addressed (Toyota having raised quite legitimate questions about how the ACO would ensure a road car derived chassis would be suitable for use at Le Mans).

        1. Thanks for a very informative comment. This is why I come here.

  4. I hope this catches on, motor racing needs a boost. There are some really amazing hypercars on the market and if just a few manufactures can be enticed to join it will be great for the sport across the board.

  5. Toyota (as the last manufacturer standing under the current LMP1 rules) and Aston Martin (as the manufacturer who seemed to be the most keen on the “hypercar” rules) were the manufacturers who I thought would need to sign up to compete at Le Mans post 2021 as an absolute minimum. It will be interesting to see if any others sign up… I’m looking at you McLaren and Ferrari.

    1. Yep, glad that at least these two now announced they will join @geemac, if only they do, well at least it is more competition than LMP1 right?

      @mazdachris, hm, interesting point, not sure what the plan is there either.

    2. What about Lamborghini joining? They can use everything Porsche and audi learnt (even some personell is still in the group?) and the brand could use some top level racing presence @geemac.

      I think I did already see Brown mentioning that they would like to get to Lemans, let’s hope they do it.

    3. @geemac I thought that Ford were sniffing about, potentially developing something from the GT.

      1. @mazdachris I think you are right, but based on what has been written lately they aremn’t even sure if they are going to commit to running the GT in GTE next season, never mind developing a hypercar.

        @bascb I was this close to commenting on this article with “[insert Volkswagen AG group company name here]” in the last line too, but seeing as the group is still trying to clean up its image after Dieselgate I’d be surprised (but happy) if one of them signed up.

        1. @geemac – does the WEC allow electric powertrains and battery swaps? Given VAG has made a heavy pivot to electric for the future, I wonder if they’ve toyed with the idea of a halo product in WEC.

          BTW, has their image really taken a hit? I know they’ve taken a financial hit due to the recalls and penalties, but what I vaguely recall is that their sales are as strong as ever. Granted, the last I heard of them on this topic is from a few months back regarding some legal proceedings (a conviction?) in the US.

      2. Ford won’t likely join this. They were looking for a more DPi set-up.

    4. I think they are hoping for mclaren and dreaming about ferrari. Mazda wasn’t interested last time I heard, bmw went to formula e and ford chose going dpi in imsa. I don’t expect any more cars tbh. Just having aston in addition to toyota was not a sure thing and it was possible that toyota would do it alone.

  6. They should just adopt something along the lines of the DPi formula that IMSA have been running the past couple years.

    The Hypercar formula makes for some cool looking renders but there are so many flaws in it that i’ll be amazed if it last’s too long.

    I mean for one there going to be probably 10-15 seconds slower than the current LMP1’s & since the non hybrid LMP1’s are going to be part of the same class there going to need to be restricted so much for the BOP with the Hypercars to work that there’s little point running one. Especially since that’s putting them at a similar performance level to LMP2.

    1. @gt-racer, at one point, the ACO was supposedly looking at the option of adopting what has been dubbed the “DPi 2.0” regulations, which I believe are being written to come into force in 2022.

      However, whilst the ACO had been negotiating with IMSA about the possibility of aligning their regulations, as the ACO does seem to be keen to try and unify the world of sportscar racing so cars can compete in both IMSA and ACO organised events, in the end it seems that the ACO dropped the idea and went back to the “hypercar” regulations – quite possibly because there was an element of snobbery over the fact that the DPi regulations were written by IMSA rather than the ACO.

      As you say, right now the proposed rules sound like they’re kind of being cobbled together because the negotiation process has been so troubled. There has been a lot of criticism that the “hypercar” concept is really failing to deliver on most of the ACO’s aspirations – it’s not cheap enough to draw in that many manufacturers, especially when compared to the DPi regulations, it’s also created major questions about how the ACO will manage the field spread between the different divisions and it’s really failed to work out what to do with the independent manufacturers in the LMP1 class (Neveu’s statements on the privateers in that class really is a load of hot air, with no explanation for what will happen to them in the longer term).

      Hopefully the ACO will manage to execute the plan in practise, but so far they’ve not really handled the negotiations over the new regulations that well.

  7. hadn’t realized that this regs only start after Le Mans 2020…. which means Le Mans 2020 will be “more of the same”

    1. Everything is happening in 2021, new F1 rules, new WEC rules. I hope they get it right. I liked WEC, watched a lot of LM24, but now, with Toyota alone, it is boring.

      1. Ignore the battle at the front @f1mre, LMP2 and GTE Pro are where its at. Lots to keep you interested there.

        1. Yes, GTE is exciting, but ignoring Eurosport’s ad breaks and also Toyota is almost too much. I am going to watch a couple of hours, though.

        2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          14th June 2019, 18:18

          I don’t know what it is but I have never been able to care about LMP2. Maybe I’m basic.
          GTE all day.

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            14th June 2019, 18:24

            I like the DPi class and was previously in the @gt-racer camo that a unified DPi esque class was the way forward, but it’s perhaps not out of the realms of possibility that some the the bigger GTE outfits like Chevy/Porsche/Ford could maybe make the leap up to Hyper regs and start competing for outrights and I’d be all for that

  8. WEC is going to be awesome, with a bunch of different looking hypercars being the top class. Wish it were like that right now!

  9. I’m so happy they are going to be running the 6.5 liter v12. If the have it rev high enough it will sound like an old school screaming F1 car. I’m looking forward to seeing how many teams sign up. My dream would be for Ferrari to get back in the fight for overall in the 24 hour. Anyone see the corvette team jumping into the top class? They are working on their super secret rear engine Corvette as we speak. That would be amazing if you ask me

  10. I like a lot about this concept, but I don’t like that they are making them all have the same BHP. Which then makes the whole concept to me seem a way to show off a lot of shiny objects to a dumbed down public. So then it becomes only an aerodynamics and efficiency race? I guess I just have to accept that open rules are a thing of the past and that BOP is the future.

    1. @darryn, it is not only a capped peak power output, the regulations state that they will have a “regulated power curve” – that seems to hint that the ACO will be controlling the entire torque curve, not just the peak power output.

      It’s also not really an aerodynamics or efficiency race either – in season development is banned so, once you have homologated your engine and the bodywork packages you are allowed to, those are fixed for the rest of the year.

      At that point, your only hope is that the ACO hasn’t made a mess of the Balance of Performance equation – if they have and you are not competitive, then you’ve got no option but to write the year off and hope that focussing your efforts on your next car will work in your favour.

  11. Pretty. Wish F1 had AM V12 and Toyotq V6 in same category.

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