FIA WEC Fuji 6 Hours Spa Resources

Part 1 – 2017 WEC Fuji Race Analysis – LMP1

Let’s now take a look at the LMP2 class. The race was won by Rebellion car n.31, followed by Signatech Alpine car n.36 and DC Racing / Jota sport car n.38. Albeit all the teams using the same chassis, some differences could be identified in how each car performed and in how each team tackled both setup and strategy.

There has been some post race discussions because some teams didn’t have their Silver/Bronze driver in the car at all, because of the red flags and interruptions that reduced significantly the race time with respect to the planned six hours. But this goes beyond the scope of this article, that wants to focus more on cars/crews performance.

As we will see shortly, actually the fastest car on track didn’t win, but Rebellion managed the race very well and was also able to do one less stop than Signatech (who finished second) and than several other teams. The same is true also for Jota Sport car n.38. Interestingly, most of the teams stopped more or less at the same time for the first pit stop, but then differentiated their strategy and/or needed to stop because of driver changes (as happened to car n.36 just only five laps after its second pit stop). Some drivers’ mistakes also affected how the race evolved: beside some more spectacular crashes, one effective game changer was probably the spin of Nicolas Lapierre at lap 51.

Because of all of this, it is no surprise to see that car n.31 and car n.38 were the ones spending less time in the pit lane, with car n.38 having the shortest pit time.

LMP2 Pit Times

To start looking at cars performance, let’s consider the following table first, showing the best lap time and the average of the best 20 and 50 lap times of each of the first five classified cars.

LMP2 Average Lap Times

Already by looking to the above table, it is crystal clear that car n.36 was by far the fastest during the whole race. If the difference between car n.36 and car n.31 best lap is only slightly above 1 tenth, the gap increases progressively if we consider the average of the best 20 and 50 lap times, with a massive difference of nearly 0.6 seconds in the latter.

This is well confirmed by the plots relative to the best 20 and 50 lap times obtained during the race by each car.

LMP2 Best 20 Laps
LMP2 Best 50 Laps

Beside showing clearly how much quicker car n.36 was compared to the others, these two plots also confirms car n.31 being the second fastest car on track and car n.38 and car n.24 being very close to each other, as we also could see in the average times table.

Fourth classified car n.28 is constantly and sensibly off pace instead, but was one of the few crews that led his non-professional driver in the car for a pretty long time, during the first stints.

Let’s try now to break down each car performance analyzing each track sector times and the top speeds.

Sector 1

If we look at sector 1, we immediately notice how, actually, car n.31 is here quicker than car n.36, with all the first five classified crews being pretty much packed together with the exception again of car n.28, which seems to be a bit more off.

The table below, listing the best sector 1 time and the average of the best 20 and 50 sector 1 times, shows car n.36 being in front of car n.31 only if we consider the best time overall; car n.31 is anyway faster in both the best 20 and 50 sector times average:

LMP2 Sector 1 Average Times

This is pretty much confirmed by the plots relative to the best 20 and 50 sector 1 times of each car.

LMP2 Best 20 Sector 1 Times
LMP2 Best 50 Sector 1 Times

On the contrary to what we have seen in the LMP1 class, the information we gather here seems to match with what we see if we look at the top speeds of each car: as we said already, sector 1 is composed in a very big part by the main straight, therefore top speed plays surely an important role in defining how fast a car is in this track section.

Looking to the previous plots we would expect car n.31 achieving higher top speeds than car n.36, most probably because of a lower downforce/drag setup. And, indeed, this is exactly the case.

LMP2 Best 20 Top Speeds
LMP2 Best 50 Top Speeds

Car n.31 has the highest top speed in the bigger part of the best 50 top speeds each car achieved during the race. Car n.36 and car n.38 are both slower than car n.31 and that seems to match pretty well with what we saw looking at sector 1 times.

Interestingly, car n.24 is faster on the main straight than both car n.36 and car n.38, but its sector 1 times are generally slower than car n.36 and not dramatically quicker than car n.38.

Sector 2

Sector 2 seems to be the proof that our assumptions about each car aerodynamic setup could be correct, as both car n.36 and n.38 are faster than car n.31 here. This is what we can conclude by looking at the table showing best sector 2 times and the averages of the best 20 and 50 sector 2 times and also what the graphs plotting the best 20 and 50 sector 2 times of each car underline.

LMP2 Average Sector 2 Times
LMP2 Best 20 Sector 2 Times
LMP2 Best 50 Sector 2 Times

Car n.36 is clearly the fastest in sector 2, with car n.38 following. Car n.31 and car n.24 are relatively close together.

It seems reasonable to conclude that car n.36 and car n.38 opted for an higher downforce/drag setup, while car car n.31 and car n.24 for a less draggy/higher top speed one.

Sector 3

Sector 3 has a more balanced situation, in terms of performance, between the two contenders, with car n.31 and car n.36 being very close to each other and having a pretty big edge on all the other crews.

Car n.31 has the best sector 3 time overall, but car n.36 is slightly forward if we consider the average of the best 20 sector 3 times. Finally, car n.31 is again on top in the best 50 sector 3 times average metrics, but with the two cars practically achieving the same results (we have a difference of only 0,003 seconds!):

LMP2 Sector 3 Average Times

In a very twisty track section, where we mainly find slow corners and tricky road cambers, both the mechanical balance of the car and the ability of the drivers in the crew play a major role.

The equivalence of performance between the first two classified cars and their advantage on all the other competitors is reflected also in the best 20 and 50 sector 3 times plots:

LMP2 Best 20 Sector 3
LMP2 Best 50 Sector 3

Car n.36 has a small edge on car n.31 on the very left of both plots above, as confirmed also by the best 20 sector 3 times average. Indeed, the best 10-15 sector 3 times of the Signatech crew are slightly lower the ones of Rebellion’s car n.31. But after the 15 mark the two cars seems to be pretty much a copy of each other.

Closing also this LMP2 analysis, it was interesting to find out how the winning car probably succeeded not because of a better pace, but because of a better strategy/management, while the fastest car was indeed the second classified one.

Also, it is always intriguing to notice how, although all teams use the same chassis, very often each one comes to a different setup choice and how this is reflected by each car’s performance in different track sections.