GOOD ENOUGH? Lotus' technical boss Nick Chester believes modern Formula 1 cars can handle a race such as the Le Mans 24 Hours. Image: AP / Manu Fernandez
LONDON, England - Lotus' technical boss thinks a Formula 1 car could win at Le Mans.
The 24 Hours sports-car race is in the headlines because full-time Force India F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg won on Sunday (June 14) for Porsche.
Not only that but former Red Bull driver and GP winner Mark Webber has switched full-time to the ever-burgeoning World Endurance championship and thinks it may have taken over from F1 as the most challenging category in motorsport.
'CURRENT ENGINES CAN DO IT'
Webber told Britain's The Telegraph: "I mainly think about the (F1) drivers. If they're happy, and on the edge, and it's risky, pushing the boundaries, then the fans love it. At the moment it's not like that. On the other hand the top Le Mans cars today are extremely futuristic, sexy beasts to be tamed."
However Nick Chester, technical boss at Lotus, thinks F1's regulation changes through recent years mean he can now imagine a GP car winning at Le Mans. "The current engine regulations mean we have an engine and gearbox which could cover the race distance - that certainly wasn't the case in the past.
"The current F1 car could go in an endurance race, such is the performance life of so many of the parts these days. In the past, with the V8's and older gearboxes, you wouldn't have the durability.
"Maybe it's something we should talk to the ACO about," added Chester, referring to the Le Mans governing body. "It would be a lot of fun and I'd love the challenge of engineering an F1 car for a 24-hour race."
'LET'S PROVE IT'
F1 correspondent for The Times, Kevin Eason, also thought that, given F1's current problems, Chester's idea could be an ideal opportunity for the sport.
"Instead of a driver (Hulkenberg) getting a day off to compete at Le Mans," he wrote, "give a team the funds and the time to develop an F1 car to compete at Le Mans.
"Prove that F1 is still the greatest of them all."