Uncompetitive manufacturers could quit, warns Whitmarsh

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has warned engine manufacturers could quit the sport if they fall behind after the introduction of new engines regulations next year.

There has been little to separate the major manufacturers in terms of engine performance since the current V8s were introduced in 2006. But the advent of sophisticated V6 turbos with energy recovery systems next year could see some engine builders fall behind.

“I think one of the concerns for the sport is that it becomes a powertrain race,” said Whitmarsh.

“We are mindful of the fact that we currently have three and will shortly have four auto manufacturers. If one of those manufacturers doesn’t do a good enough job at the start of next year, and doesn’t have the scope by which they can become competitive, then there’s a pretty good chance they won’t be in Formula One for very long, which wouldn’t be good for the sport.”

McLaren will use Mercedes engines for the first year of the new regulations before switching to Honda power in 2015.

The rules on what can be changed on the engines will gradually become more restrictive over the coming years to reduce costs.

“There will be a phased homologation,” said Whitmarsh. “So there will be certain things that you can’t change from the outset and then at the end of the first year there will be more things you can change than in the second year, it’s a sort of phasing towards homologation.”

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”