Time penalties for inefficient driving in effect for 2014.
Ingolstadt - Motorsport is changing: When the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro is pitted against its competitors in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) the Audi factory drivers have to deliver an additional quality. Not only will they need to master the races in a flawless, fast, reliable and intelligent manner as before, but in a highly efficient one as well. Otherwise, penalties are a possibility.
Two examples of the new requirements: Only a limited amount of energy per lap may be fed into the cars powertrain through the hybrid system 2, 4, 6 or 8 megajoules per lap at Le Mans, depending on the class. If these limits are exceeded, 10-, 40- or even 60-second stop-and-go penalties threaten in the case of repeated violations. The same penalties apply if the permissible amount of fuel per lap is repeatedly exceeded.
The Audi Sport squad has successfully been testing this. If a driver is slowed by a vehicle heading into a turn, it may be advantageous to initially follow this car to save fuel and to only overtake it exiting the corner. But approaching a turn more gently also has effects on the cars handling. The drivers are no longer putting the tires and suspension under load as systematically as before, says Leena Gade based on her observations. Thats why the cars dynamic response is different.
To Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi, who was involved in the tests of the new car at an early stage, the new task poses an intriguing challenge. It doesnt seem like Id have to fundamentally change my driving style now, analyzes the Brazilian. Even in the past there were situations in which we had to watch our fuel consumption in order to put certain race strategies on track. Now were driving as fast as possible without ever losing sight of the set consumption limit. And if we do exceed the limit once, then weve got two laps to compensate for the excess by reducing our consumption. So heres another challenge being added to our task list which means weve got to be both efficient and fast.
Do fans have to fear that the race drivers in 2014 will be acting with great restraint in order to save energy? Not to worry, says Lucas di Grassi. Even though consumption may heavily vary, the lap times are very similar and thats why were running at similar speeds. Its basically about saving a lot of energy in some sections for instance by lifting earlier without driving a lot slower on a whole lap. Im impressed about how well and precisely Audi Sport has already been handling these tasks and is always able to help us with specific calculations and advice. Our sport will continue to be great fun. Its just that well be using a lot less energy in it than ever before.