But how, you may be asking, do we bring back fast, attractive, competitive sports cars in a modern age of aerodynamically driven racing design and engineering? The answer is so simple, I’m surprised no one’s mentioned it.
The epitome of GT1 racing, at least for me, was the breathtakingly beautiful ‘98-season Porsche 911 GT1, but competition from Toyota or Mercedes didn’t stir my bowels either. The 911 GT1 stretched the 996 body, dipped the bodywork in a classically-90s livery, and dumped a mahoosive intake on the roof.
McLaren basically just showed up with their supercar and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans; that was the whole point, the whole joy of GT1. How do we get that back; how do we race supercars again?
Recent LMP1 constructors shrink-wrap their bodywork around the regulations and crash structures, often leading to repulsive Darth Vader impersonations. While some modern Le Mans competitors aren’t specifically ugly, they are most certainly cookie-cutter outlines, save for the smaller details.
Every racing series today sets minimum weight limits, so why can’t we do the same to limit aerodynamic advantage? Current efforts to limit aero development for prototype classes outlines where constructors can and can’t place bodywork.
Let’s not kid ourselves, weight penalties for being faster is unsporting and a weak effort by regulating bodies.
Wind tunnels exist for companies like Toyota or Lister to design their chassis, but why not let the FIA, ACO, or KFC rent out a wind tunnel to test downforce levels at few specific air speeds on each wheel and give each team a maximum target they cannot exceed; the same concept could exist for drag coefficients.
Hopefully this solution will allow more stylized car bodies resembling each brand’s road-going offerings. The grid would soon be lined with Renaultsport RS01s, Aston Martin Vulcans, McLaren P1 GTRs, and LaFerrari Fxxks instead of being sequestered to a track with nothing but a balding banker at the wheel being coached by an out-of-work backfield F1 driver. You may have noticed the Porsche 919, Audi R18, and Toyota TS040 have no visual similarities with a 911, A4, or beige Corolla (except the later is more grounded-to-the-ground).
Going further, and trying to open up differing engine options, the regulating body could hand out credits for downforce or drag levels; don’t meet your credit allowance and you’re allowed to increase your engine displacement. A sleek 911 with a howling flat 6 could be fighting a screaming V12 in an abrasive Ferrari again.
I just don’t see any downside, though I do have that 991 GT1 too deep in my head to think otherwise...