Ferrari driver Sam Bird says the FIA World Endurance Championship should ensure that GTE cars win Le Mans outright if the LMP1 class dies out.
Audi and Porsche axed their LMP1 programmes in subsequent seasons, while Toyota has been considering its future as the only manufacturer left in the top flight, although it has hinted it will remain.
While the LMP1 field has been shrinking, the GTE division has secured its fifth manufacturer with BMW joining in 2018 alongside existing competitors Ferrari, Aston Martin, Ford and Porsche.
Bird says that GTE’s growth means it should be considered for outright Le Mans victory if LMP1 ends.
“It [GTE] is the most logical for a manufacturer to be a part of,” he told Motorsport.com. “They are cars that, young fans especially, can identify with and enjoy.
"You’ve got prototypes and they’ve got the wow factor as well. But it would be amazing if we got back to the days of a GT car winning Le Mans outright like the early and mid-90s.
"Big horsepower, really quick in a straight line, and now we have the downforce to go with it.”
GTE preferable to LMP2
Bird argued GTE would be a better fit for outright Le Mans wins than LMP2, which uses a spec engine and also requires teams to run at least one silver-rated driver.
“LMP1 hasn’t died, and I hope it doesn’t, but it isn’t looking particularly healthy,” he said.
“If there’s no LMP1s on the grid in the future, and I don’t know what will happen in the future, then we’re going to have LMP2 and GTs.
“LMP2 is a great category, I came from LMP2, I thoroughly enjoyed it and have nothing against it, but do we want the Le Mans winner being an LMP2 car that has a gentleman driver in it?
“Or do you want manufacturers from GTE in Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, BMW going head-to-head to win it?
“As a fan, I think I would want to see a marque, brand or manufacturer going for the Le Mans win. When you look at the fans they come with a Ferrari flag, they don’t come with a Ligier or an Oreca flag.”