Saturday, 4 January 2014

World Endurance Championship - Season Review

I suppose I always knew when I started this blogging thing, that there might be times when nothing inspired me to write. I suppose I also knew that, as there is no money to be made from blogging, there might be times when my motivation to write anything was also reduced. There are also the other things in my life that occupy my time, such as my family, my day job, writing for dailysportscar and - hard though it may be to believe that I have any - other interests.

All of this has kept me from posting anything recently, and if you have been visiting and have been disappointed not to find anything, then I apologise, but hopefully the year ahead will be a year of change: and that might mean I get to write more; but it might equally mean that I don't.

Anyway, here we are in 2014, and it is almost too late now to look back on the year past, but I am keenly aware that, at some point during 2013, someone asked me about fuel consumption at different circuits, and I promised that I would write something on the subject.

I have now had a chance to crunch some numbers, and in the following table show the respective fuel consumption figures for each of the factory LMP1 cars in each race (figures shown are miles per gallon):

Race No. 1 Audi No. 2 Audi No. 3 Audi No. 7 Toyota No. 8 Toyota
Silverstone 6.94 7.01
5.57 5.61
Spa 7.10 7.17 7.21 5.01* 5.74
Le Mans 7.82 8.01 8.19 6.70 6.68
Interlagos 7.50 7.77

Austin 7.03 6.79

Shanghai 7.05 6.97
5.31 5.22*
Bahrain 6.91 6.51*
4.28* 5.06

For the purposes of the calculation, I have assumed that the car always started with a full tank of fuel (which is probably fair enough), and always finished with an empty tank (which is patently wrong, particularly in those cases - shown with an asterisk - where the car stopped before the end of the race).

Even so, and although it is an interesting exercise to mull over the fuel efficiency of Messrs McNish, Kristensen and Duval, or to ask what was different about the configuration of the no. 3 Audi at Le Mans, it is probably still misleading data, as it is the average fuel consumption for the whole race, including periods of slower running: for example, behind the safety car. So questions about the actual consumption of the cars are not answered.

So what I have done in the table below is to take a single stint and calculate the fuel consumption for that stint, based on the distance covered in the stint and the amount of fuel put in the car at the end of the stint. I have, as far as possible, chosen stints that were unaffected by Safety Cars or by adverse weather, and also chosen only a 'full stint', where the car was refuelled to within 90% of its total capacity. Within those constraints, I have then chosen the fastest stint as given by the average speed achieved during the stint. What is interesting is that it is not that much different.

Race No. 1 Audi No. 2 Audi No. 3 Audi No. 7 Toyota No. 8 Toyota
Silverstone 6.95 7.12
5.60 5.68
Spa 7.23 7.37 7.28 6.13 5.83
Le Mans 7.14 7.28 7.37 6.32 6.28
Interlagos 7.30 7.59

Austin 7.17 6.93

Shanghai 7.14 7.26
5.48 5.64
Bahrain 7.00 7.16
5.23 5.26

So what does it all mean? Well, I like to think that you, my dear readers, are a fairly intelligent lot, so to a large extent you can work it out for yourselves. Remember that these are miles per gallon figures, so the higher the number, the better the consumption (although it is interesting to compare these numbers to those that we get in our road cars. Maybe I shouldn't complain so much about the 23 mpg that I get!) To me, it seems that the teams are setting themselves a fuel consumption target, and are going as fast as they can on that amount of fuel.

Certainly, looking at the Audi figures, and recalling that they ran in both long and short tail form during the year, the variation in consumption is just 10%, whereas the average speed variation is over 25%.

Also, it is clear that a lot of fuel can be saved behind the safety car (or in the wet), as at Le Mans - although, if you look more closely, notice that Audi's race-long fuel consumption average was 11% better than its single stint average (calculated for the most economical car, the no. 3), whereas Toyota (no. 7) was only 6% better.

At Toyota, it seems that their improved competitiveness in the later season races came at the cost of worse fuel consumption, which matches what you might expect - going faster means using more fuel.

And finally, the higher altitude of Sao Paulo seems to help the fuel consumption - the calculation no doubt goes that less air into the engine means that less fuel is also required for the same amount of energy.

I have to admit that this exercise was less illuminating than I had hoped - like a lot of research, it is interesting but not earth-shattering. I hope it was worth it nevertheless. And I hope that 2014 is a good year for you all too!


  1. Thanks paul. Cant wait to hear you on RLM again.

  2. The interesting comparison however will be outlining these stats against those of 2014.

    Thus taking into account the arisen energy recovering capabilities, the widely diverse technologies used by the protagonists, the result of supplementary competition by Porsche and more importantly the EoT, which should disencourage pre-LM sandbagging.

    You're right: roll on 2014 and see You at WEC Spa and LM24!

    Jan Peeters