Lotus’ technical boss Nick Chester thinks a Formula 1 car could win the Le Mans 24 hour race.
The fabled 24 hour sports car race is in the headlines at present, after full-time Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg won on Sunday for Porsche.
Not only that, former grand prix winner Mark Webber has switched full-time to the ever-burgeoning world endurance championship and thinks it may have taken over from F1 as the most challenging category.
“I mainly think about the drivers,” Webber told the Telegraph. “If they’re happy, and on the edge, and it’s risky, pushing the boundaries, then the fans love it. At the moment it’s not like that.”
On the other hand, the former Red Bull driver said, the top Le Mans cars today are “extremely futuristic, sexy – beasts to be tamed”.
But Nick Chester, the technical boss at Lotus, thinks the regulations shift in F1 in recent years means he can now imagine a grand prix car winning at Le Mans.
“The current engine regulations mean we have an engine and gearbox which could cover the race distance and that certainly wasn’t the case in the past,” he said.
“The current F1 car could go in an endurance race such is the performance life of so many of the parts these days. In the past with the V8s and older gearboxes, you wouldn’t have the durability.
“Maybe it’s something we should talk to the ACO about,” added Chester, referring to the Le Mans governing body. It would be a lot of fun and I’d love the challenge of engineering an F1 car for a 24 hour race.”
Respected F1 correspondent Kevin Eason thinks that, given formula one’s current problems, Chester’s idea could be an ideal opportunity for the sport.
“Instead of a driver (Hulkenberg) getting a day off to compete at Le Mans, give a team the funds and the time to develop a formula one car to compete at Le Mans,” he wrote in the Times. “Prove that F1 is still the greatest of them all.”