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With Andre Lotterer in the Caterham for Friday’s free practice, the first thing I wanted to know was exactly what Sky Sport F1 asked him—what is the difference between a world championship-winning Audi LMP1 car and a Formula 1 car?

“There is a lot more power – it would be nice to have that much power in an LMP1 car – but then in the corners it is the opposite,” Lotter told Sky Sports F1.

“I think our Michelin tyres are a bit better, we can push them much harder and do over 700km on one set of tyres and more downforce as well so you can push an LMP1 car a bit more in the corners. So that was the surprising thing, but we did come a bit low on downforce here so I expect the car to become better. But you do have to restrict yourself and apply yourself a lot.”

In Pirelli’s defense, their tires are purposely made to degrade quicker and not last as long or take the kind of punishment a triple-stinting Audi LMP1 car might hand out so you have to forgive that comparison.

On the other hand, a much heavier LMP1 car can handle being pushed harder in the corners and one might expect that to a point as the horsepower is lower. This leads to the notion that the 2014 F1 cars are, indeed, a handful to drive but Andre admits that it is restricting yourself and that’s one of the issues F1 is facing at the moment—lift and coast and holding back. However, some of that could be the low downforce settings for Spa.

From the World Endurance Championship (WEC) standpoint, it’s great having Andre in the car and drawing comparisons. What we have learned so far is that the LMP1’s can be pushed much harder and allow for non-restrictive racing in the series. This adds praise to the series as a competitive sport for eyeballs.

Lotterer did well in practice and seemed to offer very good feedback to the team and he’s no stranger to single-seater racing as he does a fair bit of that in Japan. If you haven’t watched the WEC, you might consider doing so as the racing is top-shelf and the cars are epic. Lotterer is proving that while drivers don’t hop from one series to the other like they used to, they still haven’t lost the ability to do so.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Judging from M. Webber’s comments on his blog, I’d guess the tires and reduced downforce comparing CT-05 v. E-tron are the culprits. Lotterer I’d assume does as much/more fuel savings in WEC than here, and ’14’s lift and coast is less pronounced than last year (for the Merc’s at least).

    One of my cars came with horrible run flats; I immediately switched them for Pilots, and the difference was amazing. I wonder what racing tires feel like.

    I believe you have a previous-gen M3 or M5; if it came with the crappy PZero or Conti run flats, switch out to some PS/2’s or 3’s (or vice versa if you’re feeling like torturing yourself). I’d like to think it’s somewhat akin to what these racing drivers feel when switching from hard to soft, or in Lotterer’s case series to series.

  • Tom Firth

    Lotterer’s Audi at Spa for the WEC was the high downforce aero package, but of course he’s driven the low downforce car too. Although really it’s abit of an unfair comparison, one is Audi’s designed to perfection R18 (Though it was slow at Spa compared to Toyota) The other is a back of the grid Caterham that visibly lacks the aero development the big teams in F1 have been able to use. Would really like to see what Lotterer thinks of a Red Bull for example personally for a better comparison. Not going to happen though :( It is certainly interesting though.

    Personally I quite like seeing the F1 cars sliding around more at spa and Eau Rouge/Radillon looking a little challenging again, compared to recent years. Looking forward to seeing how he gets on as the weekend progresses though.

    WEC’s biggest issue is that although Lotterer is in the spotlight today, its nearly a month yet until the next WEC round (the first since Le Mans in June) The gap is ridiculously large for getting any eyeballs on the series, admittedly the huge gap is not all WEC’s fault but it frustrates me massively that it’s missing a rather large opportunity here.

  • @_canuck_

    Nice to hear a comparison I wonder how those lmp1 tires and rims would hold up to the power of an F1 car.

  • Jason Anthony

    A little off topic, but if the WEC switches to a winter schedule like they are contemplating, they won’t have to compete with every other FIA championship for race dates.

    • Tom Firth

      Indeed Jason which is why I believe it’s a good idea. WEC can do this, It works for them. By winter series it looks like it will be August/September through to June with Le Mans finishing the championship. Admittedly part the reason we have such a gap, is that Brazil should be happening next weekend, However Emerson Fittipaldi who promotes the race, requested it to be moved to the season finale and the FIA agreed.

      Which on one level, ace, I love the idea of Brazil as a season finale, it’s a fantastic track. On the other hand, it leaves us with another month without a race.

      Must say though, teams aren’t sitting and relaxing on the beach, Audi has been testing this week, The cars are been shipped by sea to the USA and when the WEC returns, it will be excellent, with a few TUSC entries joining for the race including Corvette Racing and ESM. Lotus’s long awaited LMP1-L should make an appearance and the amazing looking Ligier JS P2 which saw it’s debut at Le Mans will continue racing.

      Apologies to Todd for going off topic.

  • Jason Anthony

    Sorry, context is in reply to Tom’s post