McLaren wants the WEC to hit the reset button before it commits to LMP1.McLaren has expressed an interest in joining the LMP1 class of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) if certain conditions are met.LMP1 is in trouble. Audi and Porsche both left the category for Formula E, meaning Toyota will be the only manufacturer competing in next year's season unless a rival makes an unexpected last-minute announcement. McLaren is evaluating whether to join in 2019, but it argues the WEC's rules are unviable. The company also points out LMP1 has become far too expensive in recent years.
"LMP2 cars today have a higher top speed than LMP1 cars of a few years ago. That's seriously impressive when you consider you'd be hard-pushed to spend $5 million on [LMP2] for a full WEC season. Relative to the increased expense of LMP1, at the current levels of spend [LMP1] is not a 20-times better deal. But put those lessons into an LMP1 car, say for a budget of $20 million, and we'd be very interested," Zak Brown, the executive director of McLaren Technology Group, told Motorsport.
WEC officials haven't commented on Brown's request, but it's not the first time an official from a major manufacturer has criticized the high cost of competing in LMP1. Paris-based Peugeot has considered returning to the sport after several years of absence but it's concerned about the amount of money required to develop a competitive car.
Toyota is unlikely to race in LMP1 on its own for very long, so the WEC will need to make big changes in the coming months if it wants the category to survive. If budget restrictions are applied, we could see Peugeot, McLaren, and Toyota line up on the starting grid at the 2019 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Note: McLaren P1 GTR-based LMP1 prototype rendering by Yasid Design pictured.