Open Letter To President Todt: What happened to the World-Engine?

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Dear President Todt

I trust you enjoyed your trip to the States and your stint in the Star Trek Captain’s Chair.

During your trip, you may have noticed that your organisation released a most underwhelming FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) entry list for the next edition of this once-mighty and always important series.

LMP1 is going to be another Toyota steamroller as the factory takes on the privateer minnows. Only six cars for the main tin-top prize in prototype racing.  LMP2 looks a tad better and should be the highlight of the series but eight cars is hardly mouth-watering.

Three two-car teams in LMGT Pro and 11 entries in LMGT Am – Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche the only marques involved in the contest this year.

I read this and was astounded how this series has become so irrelevant in its current state. Surely each class should feature at last a dozen cars. Big fields, busy tracks, that’s what endurance racing is all about lest you forget.

There should be at least 40 cars on the grid, anything less is a blow to drivers as it means far less seats in a high profile series. With 31 cars it means at least 18 drivers are hard done by, not to mention hundreds of team members who would have found jobs had the WEC been what it should be.

Furthermore, where are Ford, Chevrolet, BMW, Audi, Nissan, Mercedes and the likes that have rich histories in endurance racing? Why have they deemed the WEC this year a no go area? Why have they abandoned ship? Are they waiting for the Hypercars era? What’s going on?

Whatever the case this forthcoming season is hardly going to be the blockbuster box office stuff that the WEC could be.

I respect your road safety campaigns and the ambassador you are for the automobile, but the sport that made you what you are today is bleeding and it appears you are watching it happen, or maybe you are not aware?

I have been a fan from your Peugeot days (loved those prototypes!) and what you did at Ferrari is etched in legend forever. I had very high hopes when you took the highest office in the business that things would change. They have but not enough, or put it this way the momentum appears to have stopped.

So what has this to do with Formula 1?

Actually, what you once proposed is a blatantly obvious blueprint for the future of motorsport as a whole. Allow me to remind you.

You went up in my estimation in 2017 when you shed light on the concept of a “World-Engine” for motorsports which you proposed for 2014 which would serve F1 and WEC simultaneously – geat idea! But the rules came along clearly ignoring the concept and we have what we have today.

Again last year you were keen to have the concept adopted for 2021 but from what I hear – correct me if I am wrong – the current PUs (slightly modded) are set to stay and they will have no relevance to any other series.

In other words, your World-Engine idea is dead in the water yet again.

Understandable during the Bernie Ecclestone ‘scorched-earth’ policy to destroy anything not Formula 1 related. So it would have been a war between you two which no one needed at the time.

Nevertheless, the opportunity again presented itself ahead of F1’s 2021 rules to introduce a power unit package that has relevance beyond the top flight.

Again, I write under correction, but the World-Engine-Power-Unit (WEPU) concept had me revved up as I imagined an idyllic situation where the fully-blown F1 version of the WEPU would produce 1000 horsepower for team in the top flight.

The same engine would then be used in endurance specification and capped at say 800 BHP for LMP1, and around a 600 BHP version for LMP2.

It would also allow for another spec of the same WEPU to be used for Formula 2, say, pegged at a maximum 750 horsepower for the one-make series.

Thus you have the top two road racing series – F1 and WEC – plus F2 all feeding from the same set menu, merely different versions of the same plate for different meals.

A fantastic idea which inspired when you went on record saying: “At the moment we have separate engine regulations for every series. It doesn’t have to be like that. The requirements for Formula 1 and the world endurance championship are similar.”

“A Formula 1 engine has to do about 5,000 kilometres, which is about the Le Mans distance. Having one engine concept would be attractive to new manufacturers, and it could mean F1 teams can go to Le Mans with their own team, or vice versa.”

Bravo! You summed it up so aptly and I for one have been waiting for you to implement this grand idea that will not only boost F1 but the entire world of motorsport including related industries.

The World-Engine concept would be attractive to manufacturers as it would provide three spring-boards towards the top flight.

In such a scenario, a manufacturer could embark on a programme to build a solid WEPU for an endurance campaign. After a few years they might find success while discovering they have a handy piece of kit they may want to unleash it to 1000 BHP and give it a shot at F1 – as a team or as an engine supplier.

Smaller suppliers (eg. Cosworth style) could also be tempted to build a F2 spec version of the engine and focus on that, whatever the case it would broaden the pie substantially

At the same, time as you suggest, Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault could immediately detune their F1 packages for endurance racing and F2, which in turn allows us to dream big.

If F1 and sportscars shared engine concepts, this would be a huge incentive for the current F1 engine suppliers to run an endurance programme or at least a Le Mans effort – imagine Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon contesting Le Mans, Sebring, Spa, Monza, Silverstone, Suzuka… in a Silver Arrows LMP1.

Dream on… Ok! Going up against Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari LMP1 and a McLaren LMP1 off Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. You can go on and on…

It used to happen in the glory days of WEC when sportscars racing was allowed to live side-by-side with F1. Sportscar racing and F2 is where many teams developed their F1 packages while providing their star drivers tons of seat time. Jacky Ickx, Chris Amon, Jochen Rindt, Pedro Rodriguez, Graham Hill are the big names that spring to mind. But in that era most ran programmes outside of the F1 calendar of the time.

Different times, but with a few tweaks – WEPU for instance – it would be a step in the right direction.

So Mr Todt, again I ask:

  1. Why have we got such a feeble field for WEC this year?
  2. What happened to your World-Engine idea?
  3. What about synergising F1 engines with WEC?
  4. What is your roadmap for the future of motorsport: as a sport, as an industry, as a career?
  5. Will you surprise us all in October with the 2021 F1 rules?

Finally, why an open letter you may ask:

Getting access to important people like you is not easy and often so embroiled with red-tape and spin-doctor protection that it is virtually impossible.

So Open Letter it is to perhaps get your attention as we did a few years ago when you were good enough to respond. I must say, this prompted instant respect in me for you which remains despite our apparently different opinions on the state of motor racing worldwide.

I write this with all due respect and hope that behind-the-scenes you and your organisation are toiling hard with the final regs and will surprise us all when the 2021 F1 rules are finally made public in October.

Either way, Mr President I sincerely hope this Open Letter reaches your eyes because some of us are in need of answers before then.

Best wishes

PV

Captain’s Chair on @StarTrek discovery pic.twitter.com/turCWKOivm

— Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) August 21, 2019

Big Question: What World Engine (WEPU) concept could service F1, WEC, F2 etc simultaneously and logically?
In other words, let’s make some constructive suggestions…

WEC 2019-2021: 31 cars for WEC season-opener

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VER335
LEC219
PER210
RUS203
SAI187
HAM168
NOR88
OCO66
ALO59
BOT46
GAS22
MAG22
VET20
RIC19
MSC12
TSU11
ZHO6
STR5
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DEV2
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