Both Toyota TS050 LMP1 hybrids cruised to a comfortable victory throughout the 6 hours, commanding the pace and eventually finishing the race with a 4 lap lead over the third place non-hybrid Rebellion Racing REB-13. The number 8 car of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima finished ahead of the number 7 sister car to give Toyota a 1-2 finish.
However, during post-race scrutineering, both Toyotas were found to have failed the front skid block deflection test and were disqualified – a memory that Fernando still finds perplexing but is keen to put in the past.
“The Silverstone race was dominated by the Toyota team and to find out that you are disqualified for a reason that is not performance related”, said Alonso on Thursday.
“We were slower because the parts were broken”.
“It was a shame but we accept, move forward and try to repeat the result in Fuji”.
The disqualification means that Toyota’s advantage over the number 3 Rebellion entry is just two points, but Alonso doesn’t feel the points gap will place any extra burdens on the team.
“It’s the same pressure”, explains Fernando.
“We have to learn and be stronger next time. Hopefully we’ll have a normal, clean Sunday”.
In the most recent Equivalency of Technology (EoT) changes, both TS050 HYBRIDs will now carry 26 kilograms of extra weight to raise the overall weight to 904kg compared to 818kg for normally aspirated LMP1’s and 833kg for turbocharged cars.
Additionally, The lap cap for the non-hybrid LMP1’s has been dropped, meaning they will no longer need to pit two laps earlier than the Toyotas, but Alonso believes these changes are missing the point of the series.
“I think for every single race so far we’ve had a new [EoT] adjustment”, says Alonso.
For Spa it was a bit more power and for Le Mans it was a bit more power for the privateers, with a significant power [addition] at Silverstone plus a reduction in weight”.
“Even without that, the hybrid technology is still better in these kind of races. The new way is to make our car slower, but again I don’t think that’s the point. We shouldn’t say sorry for having high cholesterol!”
Fuel allocations for the non-hybrid LMP1’s will allow for longer stints and fuel fill restrictors have been adjusted to balance time during pit-stops, but again Alonso feels the tweaking is a false representation of the technology at Toyota’s disposal.
“Even the reduction of fuel over a lap… The hybrid system should always have less fuel consumption because our efficiency is ten times better than the other cars”, adds Fernando.
“If it makes the races and the championship more interesting it is welcome, but we won’t know the performance until we hit the track tomorrow. But even then there’s been ten years of research and development on this car to find an extra millisecond here and there”.
Fuji has always been a circuit notorious for traffic, but Fernando still believe Toyota still has some tricks up its sleeve in this department.
“We have some freedoms with our boost”, he adds.
“We can use it a little bit more or we can cancel it and use it on the next corner if we find different traffic. We have a little bit of room to play there, but I don’t think it’s a huge advantage”.
“But the privateers are not optimising their opportunities as well. At Silverstone we had four or five seconds advantage in the pit-stops. That [adds up to] a one-minute advantage. They’re losing time somewhere. These are things that are out of our control. If everyone executed their race to perfection, I think we are all very close”.
“At the moment only Toyota is executing their race to perfection, so we cannot say sorry for that”.
Regardless, Fernando is happy to be back at Fuji – the scene where he took his Japanese Grand Prix victory in 2008 and arguably lost the F1 title in 2007.
“They were great memories”, he says.
“I am told that I’m the only driver in the sport to win two Japanese Grand Prix at different circuits – one in Fuji and one at Suzuka”. Given F1 doesn’t race at Fuji anymore I’ll keep that record!”
“The Japanese circuits have cambered corners, so you’re always finding more grip on the inside of the corner”, says Fernando.
“There are three different sectors which are very different, so setting up the car here is always challenging because if you’re slow in the corners then you’re slow on the straights”.
“The weather always plays a big factor here, so we’ll have an eye on the sky”.
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