Breaking down the WEC’s adjusted Season 9 regulations

The FIA World Endurance Championship revealed the adjusted 2021 regulations and opened entry applications from 4th December 2020 until 14th January 2021.

The WEC recently revealed a provisional brief of sporting regulation changes for the 2021 season, as it awaits the major arrival of the LMP1 replacement, the Le Mans Hypercar.

The championship also revealed the window between the 4th December and the 14th January in which applications can be made not only to enter the championship, but also Le Mans (at least those who have not already received automatic invites).

The WEC say that the following tweaks look to “stimulate championship growth, create sporting fairness and to ensure that costs remain controlled in this difficult economic period”.

Further details on the 2021 sporting regulations will be revealed by the FIA WEC and the ACO (Automobile Club l’Ouest) early next year, although the main frame has stayed somewhat similar from the beginning of the WEC in 2012.

Simpler qualifying proceedings

The usual qualifying format in the WEC has been for two 25-minute sessions hosted each to represent prototypes (LMP1s and LMP2s) and GTs (Pros and Ams).

Two drivers per car used to each set a fastest lap-time in order to form an average to determine their grid spot for the race.

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Instead, each car will have only one driver per car, like the newly-introduced Hyperpole session at Le Mans earlier this year.

In 2021, there will be two 10-minute-long sessions for prototypes and GTs; note that it will be compulsory for Am cars to have their bronze driver set the lap-time.

Put simply, the fastest lap-times from each car will determine their spot on the grid and will be put to the back of the overall grid if a lap-time has not been set.

LMP2 and the new Bronze Classification

One of the more controversial measures that were revealed earlier this year, was that the 2021 WEC would allow FIA bronze-classified drivers to race amongst LMP2 lineups.

Almost immediately after it was implemented, along with the backlash from current WEC drivers, it was agreed this would not happen.

Instead, an LMP2 Pro-Am category will be imposed with those teams who have Bronze drivers in their lineups. A similar setup is currently seen in the Asian Le Mans Series (endurance feeder to the WEC).

The most successful LMP2 Pro/Am crew (including a Bronze driver) will also be included on the LMP2 podium at each race.

This adds the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Pro/Am teams’, and drivers’ as championships.

LMP2 to face power reduction in line with 2021 LMH arrival

The talk of cost-saving initiatives

Competitors of the Hypercar category will be restricted to 40 operational staff or 43 for cars featuring hybrid systems (Toyota GAZOO Racing, so far).

This is part of the championship’s initiatives to impose cost-saving measures, but this (staffing) rule will be exempted solely for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The idea here is so it works alongside previously introduced changes making participations more cost-effective, such as an exclusive use of sea freight for events taking place overseas.

Also, a key reminder of the 2021 provisional calendar which will only feature six global venues, and will not attend Silverstone for the first time in nine seasons.

FIA WEC Season 9, 2021 – Prov. Calendar
March 13-14 Prologue/Pre-Season test at Sebring (USA)
March 19 1000 Miles of Sebring (USA)
May 1 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
June 12-13 24 Hours of Le Mans
July 18 6 Hours of Monza (ITA)
September 26 6 Hours of Fuji (JPN)
November 20 6 Hours of Bahrain (BAH)

Pitlane, pitstops, and intervening with the car

The FIA and the WEC say overall safety remains to be a priority.

This ethos provokes a need to clarify and simplify certain areas of the regulations to ensure pit lane scrutineers and the stewards can identify infringements quicker.

Article 12 of the FIA WEC sporting regulations covers ‘Pitlane and Interventions on the Car’ and expands on the outgoing regulations.

The specifics on pitlane proceedings will be revealed soon, but safety appears to be a focal concern.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans

Whilst the FIA and the WEC say that further details are to be revealed soon, Le Mans looks to take place over 10 days rather than two weeks that would feature a range of media commitments for the drivers, a parade, and the test day that would proceed the extensive week of free practices and qualifying sessions – until the race itself on the weekend.

This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours ran a condensed schedule due to the outstandings pandemic circumstances plus the ACO’s keen desire to host the race in the first place.

The 88th edition of the race held earlier this September condensed four free practices and two qualifying sessions, over the space of two days; the main race ran over the weekend as per usual.

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The scrutineering and pre-race activities will take place on the Friday and Saturday (the week before the race) and will be valid both for the Test Day on the Sunday before the race and for the 24 hours of Le Mans itself.

The practice and qualifying sessions have also been revised in response to competitors’ desires.

The competitors for the 2021 edition of Le Mans will have until 14th January to apply for their entry.

Testing in 2021

The 2021 FIA WEC season will be the first in a five-year homologation cycle of the upcoming Hypercar category.

As a result, more pre and in-season testing will take place.

The LMP2 and LM-GTE Am classes will both benefit from additional testing mileage too, as the GTE-Pros face the same limitations as in 2020. Teams will still be required to declare their testing intentions.

The 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship will utilise these regulatory tweaks inlight of the Le Mans Hypercar arrival, the LMP2 performance adjustment and Pro-Am class, as well as the handful of teams who are debuting LMP2 and GTE-Am campaigns in the WEC.

The first on-track Le Mans Hypercar action is set to be from the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus WEC debutees, with their SCG 007 LMH on 5th January.

The official start of the season at the Prologue, also hosting the first round, will be in March.