Le Mans heat could have major impact on race

posted in: Car, Homepage, Le Mans, LMP1, Race | 0

This week­end is set to be one of the hottest 24 Hours of Le Mans on record, with tem­per­a­tures fore­cast to rise to 33°C on Sun­day. How­ev­er, the heat may play a sig­nif­i­cant role in decid­ing today’s race thanks to a recent change in reg­u­la­tions.

Under the rules, ambi­ent tem­per­a­tures inside the cock­pit may not rise above 32°C. If tem­per­a­tures are fore­cast to rise this high, the FIA WEC is enti­tled to declare a race, or parts there­of, as a “hot race” (much like declar­ing races as “wet races” in the pres­ence of rain).

Some cars use air con­di­tion­ing units to improve dri­ver com­fort and main­tain tem­per­a­tures at a sta­ble lev­el, regard­less of the heat out­side the cock­pit. In such “hot races”, dri­vers in cars with­out air con­di­tion­ing units may only com­plete stints of 80 min­utes – much less than the usu­al three hours they spend in the car at any one time.

In LMP1, one major and rel­e­vant dif­fer­ence between Toy­ota and Porsche in this regard is that the Porsche 919 Hybrids have air con­di­tion­ing units, while the Toy­ota TS050s do not. Should tem­per­a­tures rise to the fore­cast lev­el, Toy­ota would there­fore be lim­it­ed to run­ning 80-minute dri­ver stints. On the oth­er hand, Porsche’s air con­di­tion­ing unit drains over­all pow­er

It remains to be seen whether the reg­u­la­tions will need to be applied. Giv­en that tem­per­a­tures are only set to increase beyond 32°C on Sun­day after­noon, the race may well have already been decid­ed. How­ev­er, if the lead­ing cars are close, the restric­tion on stint lengths throw in an excit­ing and unpre­dictable com­po­nent to an already fas­ci­nat­ing bat­tle.

Image © WEC-Mag­a­zin