Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2024

Verstappen wants to tackle Le Mans once they ‘sort out Balance of Performance’


Posted on

| Written by

Le Mans needs to “sort out” its controversial Balance of Performance regulations before Max Verstappen will consider racing there.

The three-times Formula 1 world champion has often spoken of his desire to contest the classic endurance race. However during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend he revealed he has concerns over the BoP rules implemented by the World Endurance Championship.

The BoP aims to reduce the performance gaps between teams by imposing different power and weight limits on each car. But it has been a target of criticism, even by the teams themselves, despite regulations which forbid them discussing it.

Last year Ferrari scored their only victory of the season at Le Mans, after receiving more favourable limits under the BoP. They were revised after the race and the team hasn’t won again since. Toyota said they “lost to politics” at the race, Ferrari have issued veiled criticisms of the BoP and Peugeot recently complained about its implementation too.

Start, Le Mans 24 Hours, 2023
Verstappen has concerns over some Le Mans rules
Verstappen said the race is “incredible” and likes the idea of sharing a car with other drivers. “It’s not only you, you have to work together with your team mates to try and find the right compromise with the set-up. So I’ve been following it a lot here and there [and] you have a few chats as well.”

“But at the moment, I think it’s too early for me to enter because the new regulations as well, I think they need to sort out the BoP a little bit better between the cars,” he said. “It’s a bit hit and miss here and there, I find.”

The Red Bull driver also suspects he would be at a disadvantage over the series’ weight limit which favours lighter drivers. “I feel like there needs to be a limit on that, because I might rock up, 80 kilos with kit, but there is also a driver that can be 55 or 60.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“I find like, when you go to Le Mans, you have no chance. You know that already is a couple of tenths a lap. It’s pretty incredible, the difference.

Antonio Fuoco / Miguel Molina / Nicklas Nielsen, #50 Ferrari AF Corse, Ferrari 499P, Imola, 2024
Ferrari returned to top-flight sportscar racing last year
“So they need to sort that out. There needs to be an average or minimum weight that you need to comply to. But for sure in the future, I would like to race, it’s an incredible event.”

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, whose younger brother Arthur moved into endurance racing this year, is eager to drive his team’s 499P hypercar if he can find time in F1’s packed schedule.

“I follow it obviously more [these] two years, since Ferrari joined in the hypercar category, and even more so this year as I’ve got my younger brother that started his endurance career. So now I’m a bit more involved and following closer the whole category.”

“I would love to do Le Mans one day,” he added. “I think we all have the same problem: The programme in Formula 1 now is crazy.

“It’s crazy, we’ve got very little time spare to prepare properly for a race like Le Mans. Because if I do Le Mans, I want to arrive there ready and there to go and win.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“So we’ve got to do the things seriously and at the moment with the calendar of Formula 1, it’s quite difficult. But I would love to partner with my younger brother to do Le Mans one day together.”

The only other team in F1 which also competes at Le Mans is Alpine. Esteban Ocon said now is “not the right moment” for him to race at Le Mans. “But one day, for sure, if there’s the opportunity to race in Le Mans that’s something I would love to do, but not in the same time as Formula 1.”

“Alpine races in Hypercar at the moment and I will be in Le Mans as well for the 24 hours,” he said. “It’s great to see so many different manufacturers racing on the top class and seeing so many cool fights as well.

“I’ve always said Formula 1 is my target, it’s what I want to be racing for a long time at the moment. But never say never. For sure, at some stage, this is something I will be eyeing too.”

World Endurance Championship

Browse all World Endurance Championship articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

30 comments on “Verstappen wants to tackle Le Mans once they ‘sort out Balance of Performance’”

  1. The BoP at Le Mans was excellent last year, but it’s true it sometimes seemed off. It’s going to be very hard with so many manufacturers and what are essentially two classes in one. Given that, it’s still quite good on the whole.

    The weight issue seems an oversight. Other FIA series have, as Verstappen notes, a better way to do this. Seems a bit odd that they failed to include this system, which works very well, in the LMH/LMDh regulations.

    1. MichaelN, with regards to the driver weight, I believe that Verstappen is wrong and that the World Sportscar Championship does actually mandate a minimum average weight of 80kg across the squad of drivers that a team uses for a car. At the very least, the ACO did have that rule back in place in 2017 – and, as it happens, the regulations that Formula 1 adopted in 2019 for the minimum weight of a driver were largely based on the ACO’s 2017 regulations.

      It’s also worth noting that Webber and Hulkenberg, both of whom should have been at even more of a disadvantage due to being heavier and taller than Verstappen, did not mention their weight being any sort of issue when competing in sportscar racing. There are also several drivers in the WEC that are just as heavy, if not heavier, than Verstappen – the trio of Estre, Lotterer and Vanthoor that are currently leading the WEC, for example – which suggests that it’s not really an issue in practice.

      1. Yeah, that rule sounds familiar.

        I did a brief check of the Hypercar Technical Regulations and the WEC Sporting Regulations and couldn’t find it, though, and the word average doesn’t feature in either in this context. Perhaps this was scrapped and left to the BoP?

      2. There’s no driver minimum weight. Laurens Vanthoor (a current Porsche 963 hypercar driver for Team Penske) discussed this problem on his YouTube channel. Verstappen wouldn’t be mentioning it, if he wasn’t also aware of the problem.

        The fastest Porsche 963 drivers this season (Matt Campbell, Julian Andlauer) are 60kg drivers. The drivers that won for Jota at Spa (Will Stevens, Calum Illot) are small drivers, 60-62kg. The other drivers in the Penske cars like Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre in particular are very tall and over 72-74kg. That is more than a 10kg difference from driver weight. The average car BOP adjustment is smaller than that.

    2. Excellent? it is fakery.

  2. They will never fully ‘sort out BoP’ as it is largely impossible, particularly in a development-based series. By design, no less.
    It works pretty well (on balance) in GT3 because of the enormous data pool they have to draw from (all GT3 series events globally) – but that won’t work in the top tier of WEC. There’s only one of those series, and it doesn’t even feature many events.
    Sometimes they’ll get it pretty close, and other times someone’s going to be disappointed.
    He should be used to that theory, coming from F1… His car is usually alright, while others are not.

    Having said that – if he doesn’t want to race in WEC, then that’s his problem. He can make up all the reasons he likes, but it ultimately only affects him and nobody else.

  3. He obviously won’t complain at the complete imbalance of performance in F1.

    1. F1 is also a design race while WEC series has more open regulations that lead to bigger performance gaps. Not putting any balance would lead to huge gaps and boring races.

      To get rid of balance all together, it would require more strict regulations and going more towards one design. I personally like the diversity of the cars in WEC and would find it sad to lose these identities.

      Hard to find a good solution solving all aspects as BoP will always be a bit subjective, or could be cheated.
      Maybe they could go towards some calculated value with a max ajustement, value based on each circuit and car characteristics computed by mini sectors. With a max adjustment gap between races to prevent big swings.

      Lot of efforts for a small benefit?

      1. @jeanrien

        WEC series has more open regulations that lead to bigger performance gaps. Not putting any balance would lead to huge gaps and boring races.

        And so what?

        It’s supposed to be a sport, It’s supposed to be a competition not just between drivers but also the engineer’s, designers etc.. The whole point of the SPORT is to design a car, engine etc.. that is faster than the competition and to beat them by as big a margin as possible.

        The BOP is just artificially manipulating the performance so that those who do a better job don’t get rewarded for it while those who aren’t able to produce a competitive package get artificially moved forward. It goes against the very essence of what the SPORT is supposed to be about.

        But then modern fans have been indoctrinated by the show over sport netflix nonsense so likely don’t even know what real racing and real sport is anymore. The great days of the past where it was a true sporting competition are long gone in the modern show over sport era of gimmicks and artificial nonsense.

        You spend millions designing the best car and best engine only to then be handicapped to oblivion whenever the organisers feel like manipulating the results.

        That is not a sport & it does nothing but make a mockery of what Le Mans used to be!

        1. It’s supposed to be a sport

          It is sporting entertainment.
          Using capitals on the word ‘sport’ all the time does not change the fact that they aim to make money to run and profit from the series by making it appealing to viewers.

          You spend millions designing the best car and best engine only to then be handicapped to oblivion whenever the organisers feel like manipulating the results.

          And yet they enter the series knowing exactly that outcome is a possibility. It’s all written in black and white in the rule book.

          What is a sport, in your opinion?
          Clearly not any professional, televised, commercialised motorsport series, as they are all augmented for entertainment purposes.

        2. Vincent Arui
          30th May 2024, 21:10

          BOP series are still sport because it’s not the engineers who are the athletes, it’s the drivers. Other sports have non-spec equipment too. Nobody is complaining that strict restrictions on tennis racket designs are “ruining the sport” by handicapping the best racket companies. BOP is just the midpoint between a developmental series like F1 and a spec series like F2. Of course it’s not perfect, but it’s just one added element of luck in a sport that’s already full with such factors.

    2. There is indeed a huge imbalance of performance in F1, but this is based on merit and not because of regulations allowing Red Bull to have a lighter or more powerful car.

      1. But it is in no small part due to development in the areas in which Red Bull does not excell, i.e., engines, being banned. Compare with 2014-2019; Red Bull only won a handful of races, and then usually not on pace but by best adapting to the circumstances of the race.

        1. The other manufacturers agreed to those regulations so take it up with them?

  4. The BoP thing also kills it for me, i just cant find it interesting with that layer of constantly changing arbitrariness added, even though i like the field that they have now.

    1. I also can’t stand it. I a bit reluctantly saw 24 Le Mans last year because of Ferrari arrival but i don’t think will have will to do that this year.

  5. Really highlights the short sightedness of Liberty trying to pack in as many races as possible rather than trying to setup situations like drivers racing in other series to attract new fans

    1. Errr, how is that short sighted to prevent the competition from attracting new fans exactly?

      1. Ambassador role for F1 drivers? If they race elsewhere (category) they might attract those fans to F1

  6. The BOP is the primary reason I gave up watching Sportscar racing because i think artificially equalising the performance to ensure ‘equality’ is one of the worst artificial gimmicks out there.

  7. I think the bigger question is, does anyone like balance of performance?

    We don’t put weights in the top qualifiers shoes at the Olympics to make an entertaining race. We don’t lower the height of the basketball ring for the teams that consistently come last in the championship. The top tennis pros don’t have to play with a smaller racket.

    A competition needs to be fair or else what’s the point?

    1. Levente (@leventebandi)
      31st May 2024, 1:42

      it’s the usual false promises societies like to chase nowadays about fake equality and such.
      But the thing is, BoP never works. But you won’t hear about it from the teams, as the WEC sporting regs forbid it.

      “Manufacturers, Competitors, Drivers and any persons or entities associated with their entries must not seek to influence the establishment of the BoP or comment on the results, in particular through public statements, the media and social networks.”

      You just get the misterious comments where if you read between the lines you can get that the team actually bashes the BoP.

      1. BOP does work. The proof is in the pudding. We are heading to Le Mans with the largest prototype field since the world sportscar championship days because of the current formula.

  8. The only time I have enjoyed “balance of performance” is the old Race of Champions, when they had one entity build a set of identical cars, which were then raced by drivers from different racing series.

  9. Levente (@leventebandi)
    31st May 2024, 1:34

    BTW people who think BoP is fair in WEC and effective I guess not aware that the teams are forbidden to make any remarks about BoP and EoT. (sporting regs 6.2. section), so you will never hear any kind of direct comment about it from the teams.
    At best you get ‘read between the lines’ style comments from the manufacturers, like Toyota last year when they were hit a sudden BoP adjustment before the big race or last time a few weeks ago Peugeot basically threatening ACO/FIA of leaving if they don’t get better BoP.
    In smaller, national or regional championship BoP works (but even there you seem time to time problems), but on a World Championship level basically never (and WTCR already showed the flaws), partly as there is too much at stake so manufacturers will always try to influence it either directly or indirectly and also because it will be always reactive, working from previous experiences with assumptions on effects. That makes a constant rollercoaster of basically swinging the needle of domination to one team to another from weekend to weekend.
    Even as a huge fan of WEC it’s clear that cracks are already showing on the championship and partly because teams are realizing that the promises of EoT and BoP are false at best, and lies at their usual level.

    1. BTW people who think BoP is fair in WEC and effective I guess not aware that the teams are forbidden to make any remarks about BoP and EoT. (sporting regs 6.2. section), so you will never hear any kind of direct comment about it from the teams.

      As much as I loathe DRS, for me this is the worst regulation in any kind of motor racing. If you have to muzzle the competitors not to complain about your rules, what does that say about your competition?

      1. It says to me that if the competitor don’t like the rules, they probably entered the wrong competition.

        F1’s not really any different, anyway. Notice you don’t hear too many teams complaining about the contents of the Concorde Agreement – and it certainly isn’t because they are all happy with it.
        It’s not set in concrete in the rules that are publicly available, so most people will never know.

    2. Like you note, the teams complain all the time and the rule is not enforced.

      1. Levente (@leventebandi)
        1st June 2024, 2:58

        There are rules the teams can comment on and they do (like the ban on tyre warmers) but the only one who actually complained straight about BoP was Jim Glick, the others are doing shaded comments and remarks at best

Comments are closed.