Levelling racing's playing field

As the FIA and ACO draft new GT rules, the debate over penalising success continues

Would Bentley’s new racing Continental be able to compete with Ferrari’s 458 or McLaren’s MP4-12C without the balance of performance rules in GT racing? Of course not. Would the British GT Championship have grids including cars from Aston Martin, Ginetta, Chevron, BMW Lotus, Chevrolet, Mercedes, Porsche and Audi? Again, almost certainly not. One car would be faster than the rest and every team would be knocking on that makers door. Emotional ties would matter not a jot.

“Without the balance of performance in GTE the Ferrari 458 would be the best GT car out there, bar none,” Johnny Mowlem says after we finish talking about RAM Racing. “I like F1 in the sense that you get given a set of regulations and then you push them to breaking point. If you’re clever you gain an advantage. Not for long, though.

“They should go that way with GTE if someone can eke out another two laps on a tank then they should be able to keep that performance. They’ve spent the time and effort so its only fair.” Ferrari worked hard last year on its direct injection system, which helped the car run for a lap or two longer but that advantage was soon pegged back and the Italian firm has had to release an update for the car to get it back up to speed.

“Because Ferrari has so many customer cars it can’t exercise the same leverage that other manufacturers can,” continues Mowlem. “Ferrari can’t say ‘we’re off’ because the brand will still be represented.”

“For me its simple,” adds Dan Shufflebottom. “Its the job of the other manufacturers to do a better job. The guys doing the best job shouldn’t be penalised; if they are, what’s the incentive to produce a really fast car? The 458 probably wouldn’t have needed updating if they had got the balance of performance right, as it would have been on the pace this year anyway.”

As we wait for the new GT plan from the FIA and ACO one can only hope that innovation will be rewarded, but various cars will still have the ability to compete together. Its a tough one to get right.