Looking forward to Le Mans

by Web Editor on 29th May 2014

By Sebastien Buemi

The World Endurance Championship season has been going really well for me with two wins from the first two races at Silverstone and Spa. It’ll come as no surprise that I’ve been enjoying it!

When you win races with a buffer it’s never as easy as it looks. Silverstone was a very difficult race, despite the fact that we won by a lap, as it was so hard keeping the car on the wet track. Audi fell foul of that and lost both its cars from accidents.

Spa was more of a proper display of performance as it was dry. What came out of that was that Audi was slower than it was at Silverstone – their package just suited Silverstone better. Audi may have been a bit slower, but Porsche was very fast at Spa and we had a really good battle with the Romain Dumas/Neel Jani/Marc Lieb Porsche until it had a hybrid system problem. We may have been slower over a lap, but the Porsche loses out to us a bit over a stint. Our car doesn’t necessarily excel in any one area, but we’ve come up with a good compromise and the team’s making good decisions on the pit wall. When you put all that together it sometimes looks like you won easily. It’s not usually the case, though!

Porsche’s return

There’s absolutely no denying that Porsche has done a fantastic job – they have a quick car, especially over one lap, and they’re making it all work. It’s interesting because when they started testing we heard that they were having a hard time. Then they came to Paul Ricard for the test and were really quick…

We’re all very impressed with their powertrain, perhaps more so than we are with their car. If you look at the details of the aero etc. they’re just not as impressive as the engine and hybrid systems, which make them very fast down the straight. They’ve certainly got a lot of power.

Le Mans

So much can happen in 24 hours and that’s why we’re taking Audi very seriously at La Sarthe. They may have chosen a conservative approach this year with their hybrid system – which means the car is a bit slower than it perhaps could have been – but the reliability should be good. For example, if one of Audi’s hybrid systems stops working they can carry on and finish the race. If ours breaks we have to stop and repair it.

Beumi's Le Mans results

2012
Car: Toyota TS030 Hybrid
Team-mates: Davidson/Sarrazin
Finish: DNF

2013
Car: Toyota TS030 Hybrid
Team-mates: Davidson/Sarrazin
Finish: 2nd

People always say that Le Mans is now a flat-out sprint, but you mustn’t forget times like the race in 2010 where Peugeot had a much faster car. It lost one to broken suspension early on and then the other three the next day with engine problems. Le Mans is still very much about finishing the race, even if you have to be a bit slower.

Porsche will also be a serious contender at Le Mans because its powertrain will suit the track very well. We should be competitive as well because our hybrid system will be at less of a disadvantage than it has been for the first two races.


Sébastien on the Le Mans podium in 2013

Let me explain… we load the batteries by braking so if you’re racing at somewhere like Silverstone or Spa we struggle to recover enough energy because there’s very little braking. At Le Mans we’re allowed 6MJ and even though we were allowed a maximum of 4.3MJ at Silverstone and 4.8MJ at Spa, we struggled to recoup that. The figures are done on the length of the track so when we go to Fuji, we’ll be in a similar situation to our first two races.

Porsche’s system is different in that it harvests energy from the turbo so they can always work to the maximum of the MJ rule. However you look at it, we’re in for a fascinating Le Mans as Porsche will be very quick over a lap and Audi will be right there as well.

The Monaco Grand Prix

I was in Monaco commentating for Swiss TV and it was interesting to see what happened between Rosberg and Hamilton. It’s always so difficult to judge something like that without being part of the team, but you have two guys fighting for the same ‘girl’.

They are more or less on the same level and what makes their life difficult at the moment is that they are so far ahead of everyone else. The only way one of them is going to lose points is if they are taken from them by their team-mate or by a rare mechanical problem.

They look like they will win the championship without any problems – whether it’s Lewis or Nico is too tough to call – and that doesn’t make it an easy situation to manage. Maybe some people, like Red Bull, will catch up, but so long as no one does it’s going to continue like this. It’ll certainly be interesting!

Hopefully see lots of the Motor Sport community at Le Mans on June 14/15.

 

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