The Auto-BoP was introduced immediately after Le Mans, taking effect from the Nurburgring onwards. We’ll have a look at the changes that the system dictated, the results of those changes, and whether or not they made sense. We’ll start with the Le Mans results.
Some things to keep in mind –
- The Corvette is not a full time WEC entrant, so is not included on the BoP adjustments
- Auto-BoP only applies to the GTE-Pro Class.
- Lap gaps may be artificial, depending on who was lapped by the overall winner and when
- The qualifying lap times are the cars fastest lap, not necessarily the average of the drivers.
It has to be said, the Auto-BoP started off with a good foundation. At Le Mans, all 4 manufacturers fastest cars were almost within 1 second of each other. 1.010 seconds to be exact, which over a 3 minute lap is impressive. Even the Corvette was was only 6 tenths off pole.
Although all manufacturers had a car that was reasonably fast, it’s worth noting that the highest Porsche was 7th, whilst Aston Martin and Ferrari had multiple cars in the top 5. The second Porsche was last. The entire class was separated by around 1.7 seconds.
The race panned out relatively similar to qualifying. 2 of the full time WEC manufacturers finished on the same lap. The 2 remaining manufacturers were only 1 lap behind, and the Corvette was in the middle.
To get a gap of just 90 seconds over 24 hours suggests the cars were well balanced. Being only 1 lap down at the finish is not a huge margin over a race distance either.
The Aston Martin remained at the front, whilst Ford and Porsche made up ground relative to qualifying. The Ferrari was the big loser – the the highest 488 was behind the highest car from other manufacturers.
Le Mans was an old fashioned manual BoP, and wasn’t too bad considering.
The 6 hours of the Nurburgring saw the first use of the Auto-BoP system. After being fed results and data from Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans, the system generated the following changes –
- Ford GT: +20 kg
- Aston Martin: -20 kg, +0.1mm restrictor diameter
It’s not a surprise that the top 2 finishing cars were the ones receiving adjustments. The Ford GT gained 20 kg but the Aston Martin was a little more confusing. It shed 20 kg of weight and was given a larger air restrictor, increasing power.
A bit of a head scratcher, but lets see the results from the Nurburgring.
The Nurburgring was absolutely dominated by Ferrari and Porsche. The Aston Martin that started well was just a temporary cork in the bottle. Once released, the 488s and 911s ran off into the distance. The #51 Ferrari won, whilst the Porsches fought over the other podium places.
Aston Martin struggled, but Ford were nowhere to be seen. The 20 kg weight penalty did them no favours and both cars finished a lap down.
It’s almost like the system managed to balance the Ferrari versus the Porsche, and the Ford versus the Aston Martin.
For Mexico, all cars received an adjustment. This is unusual for two reasons. Firstly, because generally the manual BoP only adjusted one or two cars. The less you change, the easier it is to manage.
Secondly, the manual system used the Ferrari as the benchmark car – therefore the Ferrari always had the least number of BoP adjustments and everything else was adjusted around it. The new system doesn’t appear to have a benchmark car, and all cars are fair game.
- Porsche: -2 kg, +0.1 mm restrictor
- Ferrari: +5 kg, -0.02 boost ratio
- Ford: -2 kg, +0.01 boost ratio
- Aston Martin: – 2 kg, +0.1 mm restrictor
Porsche, Ford and Aston Martin all lose weight whilst Ferrari gain it. Porsche, Aston Martin and Ford gain power, but Ferrari lose it.
Not surprisingly, Ford gains the most out of the changes. But it only loses 2 kg of weight after being given 20 kg. Ferrari are the biggest loser, gaining weight and losing power.
The ACO only measure restrictor sizes down to 1 decimal place, boost ratio to 2 decimal place, and weight to the nearest kg. So these changes are basically as small as they can go – especially compared to the 20 kg moves after Le Mans. The Auto-BoP must be pretty happy with its results if the changes are so small?
So despite minimal changes to all cars, the Aston Martin was catapulted to the front. The old Vantage lined up on the front row, and won the race – although by a slim 9 seconds. Ferrari took pole and finished as runner-up by less than 10 seconds. It’s safe to say that Mexico, the Ferrari and Aston were relatively well balanced.
Ford qualified well, but were unable to replicate it during the race. The lead Ford finished 2 laps down. Porsche had a terrible qualifying – bottom of the class. In the race, they managed third, but were still a lap off the lead.
So far, we’re 2 races in and it’s a bit confusing so far.
- Ford: – 2 kg, +0.01 boost ratio
The COTA BoP sheet lists every car having adjustments being made to the fuel air mixture. However, the supplied numbers are identical to previous rounds.
The Ford is the only car which gets an adjustment – it continues to shed weight (it’s now lost 4 kg of the 20 kg gained after Le Mans). It also receives the smallest boost adjustment possible.
We’re almost there. In qualifying, the entire grid was within 7 tenths of a second. Realistically, you aren’t going to get much closer than that.
Come race day, Ferrari won but Porsche and Aston Martin had cars within 40 seconds of the winner, even after 6 hours. Again, you’re not going to get much closer than that. Unfortunately, the BoP changes weren’t enough to keep the Ford in touch, and it slipped back to last in the race. It seems that whatever changes are made, the Ford struggles to maintain pace throughout a stint.
In Part 3 next week, we’ll look at the final races and try and come to a conclusion – did the Auto-BoP work?