How fast is an F1 car compared to IndyCar, WEC, Super Formula and more

How fast is an F1 car compared to IndyCar, WEC, Super Formula and more

This all started from us being irritated. Back in 2016, the first time Autosport undertook

This all started from us being irritated. Back in 2016, the first time Autosport undertook a project to rank the world’s major categories based on lap time, the impetus came from the annoying crowing of a cluster of so-called motorsport authorities that LMP1 cars from the World Endurance Championship were faster than Formula 1 machinery. Not that we dislike the WEC – far from it, we love it – but such pompous proclamations were plainly untrue.

Then this was overtaken by a genuine curiosity to find out where LMP1 stacked up against GP2, IndyCar and Japan’s Super Formula. And how did all the other classes compare? Six years on, we thought it was time to do it again. In 2016, we did our calculations based on data from the 2015 season. So here’s our take on 2021…

How did we do it?

The starting point is F1. There’s no question that it’s the fastest category in the world. Therefore, it automatically assumes an index of 100.000, with everything else measured against that. The first task was to take F1’s fastest qualifying times at each circuit from 2021. Here, with F1’s multi-phase qualifying, it’s important to factor in the times from Q1 and Q2 in addition to the Q3 pole shootout. We did the same with IndyCar and Super Formula, among others.

The first – and biggest – of what we might call data clusters comes from the well-used European circuits. The prominent European-based categories tend to race at Barcelona, Paul Ricard, Red Bull Ring, Zandvoort, Monza and Spa – and, to a lesser extent, Hungaroring, Imola and Portimao. We were therefore able to gather reams of stats from all those predominantly single-seater and sportscar championships from these circuits.

You might be thinking that last year’s Belgian GP washout means there is no possibility of any data being gathered from Spa. But we’ve been careful not to compare those categories simply against F1; it’s important to make cross-comparisons between all of them, to maximise our confidence that our table is accurate. There were therefore tons of useable data from Spa. By the time we’d finished with the European-based series, we had thousands of figures to complete the job.

The plethora of series that visit the same circuits worked as the starting point for data-gathering

Photo by: Erik Junius

The effect of COVID

Even back in 2016, once we ventured outside Europe with our stats we were relying on what we call data hinges. For example, the visits of F1 and the WEC to the Circuit of The Americas and Japan were critical in our ability to measure up the North American and Japanese series to their European counterparts.

This time, COVID-19 threatened to scupper all that, with few championships venturing outside their home continents or islands, so we had to get cunning. Yes, there was a US GP at COTA last season, but there was no IndyCar or IMSA SportsCar round there…

All we had to go on from COTA was F1’s W Series and US F4 support races, a Formula Regional Americas round at the same venue a couple of weeks later, and a NASCAR Cup round from the spring. This was clearly insufficient data on which to base our ranking of North America’s main series.

Galloping to our rescue came… the Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Finals. With the North American series visiting Misano to race with its European counterpart, we had the ideal comparison, especially since the North American qualifying time was just 0.014 seconds slower than the European. By placing the European Lambo series at the end of our data chain from the continent, we were able to get as accurate an index as possible, then apply an almost identical index to the North American version and work backwards from there.

With the North American Super Trofeo predominantly an IMSA support series, we began by working through IMSA’s GTD and GT Le Mans classes, and then into the prototype divisions (we had to include free practice here, because in some classes it’s the amateur driver who qualifies). Now we had a decent range of data to be confident about venturing into IndyCar, the Road to Indy support championships, the US’s other open-wheel series and then NASCAR (via its road-course races).

We had to be cleverer with Japan. Since COVID struck, not a single series from outside has entered the country. No F1, no WEC, not even the Suzuka 10 Hours Intercontinental GT round. The closest Japanese series in concept to F1 is, of course, Super Formula, so we had to use data from 2019 (the last pre-COVID season) as our basis, and work back from there to compare the 2021 stats.

This gave us our Japanese hinge, and what we found next with Super Formula Lights convinced us that we were on the right track. Both SFL and Euroformula Open use the Dallara 320, the car produced by the Italian company to keep alive the philosophy of what many single-seater fans call ‘proper’ F3. We expected the Yokohama tyres used in SFL to be similar in performance to the Michelins from EFO, and guess what: the SFL index we calculated was within 0.2 of EFO. We were therefore confident to work through the other Japanese single-seater categories and onto the Super GT series.

Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Finals at Misano provided invaluable insight to gauge US series against F1

Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Finals at Misano provided invaluable insight to gauge US series against F1

Photo by: Lamborghini Super Trofeo

The isolated outposts

COVID or not, South America and Australia/New Zealand have always posed problems, and the response of the down under nations to the pandemic made life even harder for us. We couldn’t rely on the F1 2019/2021 solution we used for our Japanese problem.

Suzuka is a very representative circuit on which to compare categories, but Melbourne’s Albert Park isn’t, because we’d already found that street circuit data from Europe and North America provided outliers and was capable of skewing the stats. So it wasn’t a simple matter of doing the same with Australia’s Supercars F1 support round from the 2019 GP as we’d done with Super Formula.

Again, here we had a saviour. The 2020 Bathurst 12 Hour round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge took place shortly before lockdown. With that series pretty much identical to the GT World Challenge Europe (indeed, the Spa 24 Hours counts for both), we were able to use the pole time from its Bathurst race and then use Mount Panorama times as the basis for a 2019 Aussie Supercars index (we chose 2019 because the Bathurst 12H was closer to the end of that season than the start of the delayed 2020), then set the 2021 Supercars stats against 2019 (almost identical, as you’d expect).

The 2019 Supercars data came in handy for NZ’s Toyota Racing Series too. Like the Bathurst 12 Hour, the 2020 TRS was completed just before lockdown, and we were able to calculate an index thanks to data from Pukekohe, which featured on the 2019 Supercars calendar. And bingo: it gave TRS 2020 an index a fraction ahead of the 2021 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, which is exactly what we’d expect. However, TRS 2021, with NZ inaccessible and the series contested by small grids of local drivers, dropped it a tad behind its European equivalent.

In South America, the only hinge available was via the Brazilian V8 Stock Car series’ visit to Interlagos, so here we got a comparison to F1. But what about Argentina’s Super TC2000 equivalent? Here, the new TCR South America series was our friend. We were able to compare TCR’s Brazilian rounds against V8 Stock Cars, and found that the TCR series dropped in narrowly behind our index for TCR Europe – again, that was as we expected. We were therefore able to get an index for Super TC2000 based on how it matched up against TCR South America at the Argentinian circuits.

And lastly… the UK. Several years ago, most of the major European championships visited these shores. But a combination of COVID and Brexit has slashed our enjoyment of international motorsport to the British GP (plus F2 and W Series supports), GTWCE on the Brands GP circuit and the NASCAR Euro Series at Brands Indy. Luckily, GB3 and British GT ventured to Spa, but we had a far smaller data cluster to work from for the main UK series than we had six years ago.

F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello is a staple of the Brazilian Stock Car series, one of few South American championships that could easily be compared to F1

F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello is a staple of the Brazilian Stock Car series, one of few South American championships that could easily be compared to F1

Photo by: Duda Bairros

The electric question

Six years ago, Formula E was still pretty young and all we had to go on was testing times from Donington, since none of its street circuits were used by any other racing series. Now we have the benefit of data from its round on the full Monaco circuit – except for what we can only regard as an ego-driven decision to make a small alteration to the harbour chicane to prevent a direct comparison with petrol categories.

Enquiries in the FE paddock suggested that this slowed the cars by “about half a second to a second”, so we’ve lopped 0.750s from the fastest Monaco FE qualifying time in 2021, then compared it to the respective Monaco performances of F1, F2, FRegional and the Porsche Supercup to produce our index.

The new-for-2021 Pure ETCR electric touring car series gave us more of a headache, not least because the sister World Touring Car Cup visited so few circuits used by other categories in our table. All we had to go on for WTCR was comparison with several series at the Hungaroring, and against Euro NASCAR at Most. The Sochi round was useless to match against F1, F2 and F3 because of bad weather. Still, WTCR came out just behind the BTCC’s indigenous NGTC formula, which is what we predicted.

With that sorted, we then had the conundrum of Pure ETCR, and here we had to get very imaginative. We only had the Hungaroring and Pau-Arnos to go on for comparison purposes, using the data from the high-power Time Trial phase of each round. The Time Trial starting gates at each circuit were situated in sector three, therefore elongating sector one on the timing data. But it was possible to calculate a notional Time Trial lap time on a ‘conventional’ lap by delving into the best sector times from the high-power and lower-power laps. Simple!

The Pure ETCR series' visit to the Hungaroring was one of few opportunities to compare that series against F1

The Pure ETCR series’ visit to the Hungaroring was one of few opportunities to compare that series against F1

Photo by: Pure ETCR

What we found

In 2016, Super Formula narrowly won the race for second place in our table with an index of 105.780, from IndyCar (106.014), LMP1 (107.188), GP2 (108.114) and the old Formula Renault 3.5 (110.674). This time, only Super Formula comes in below 113 (quite comfortably, on 109.612).

The reasons for this are numerous. At the time of our previous survey, IndyCar teams were using their ugly manufacturer aero kits. The introduction of the universal aero kit for 2018 made the cars prettier, but slowed them down a touch. The old GP2’s replacement by the new Formula 2 Dallara in 2019 continued the trend of FIA-endorsed single-seater championships getting heavier and heavier – see also Formula Regional instead of the old F3 and Formula Renault.

The introduction of Le Mans Hypercars in 2021 in place of LMP1 was designed to place the top division of endurance racing just ahead of LMP2, and this is exactly what happened. As a result, the LMH category falls in not only behind IMSA’s Daytona Prototype international division (which is dropped at the end of 2022), but both come up short of Japan’s Super GT.

Back in 2016, Super GT was behind Indy Lights and the old GP3, yet now it has leapt forward to fifth overall. A national GT championship is ahead of all the world’s flagship prototype classes… Japan, indeed, does extremely well, with the introduction of the new Dallara SF19 Super Formula car for 2019 in place of the outgoing SF14 raising performance in its flagship single-seater category.

But the biggest reason for the gulf between F1 and the rest is… F1. Back in 2016, our use of 2015 data came when the current turbo-hybrid formula was still in its infancy. Furthermore, the rule changes for 2017 to encourage faster cars provided a massive step forwards: in that single season, F1 leapt forward to the tune of 2.913%. The main leap forward in the table comes from FE, which has closed the gap to F1, such has been its rate of progress.

The remainder you can see from our explainers in the main table below. So now, time to start getting some rest before working on our 2028 equivalent.

How each motorsport category compares

Series Percent Lap Time – Minutes Difference Explanation
Formula 1 100 1m30s Rules reset for 2017 provided great leap forward, widening the gap to the rest
Super Formula 109.612 1m38.650s 8.65 Spec Dallara chassis, but some freedom in development plus engine competition
IndyCar 113.315 1m41.983s 11.983 Reversion to universal aero kit caused loss of pace, but provided important cost savings
FIA Formula 2 115.563 1m44.006s 14.006 New car for 2018, and turbo engines, but it’s still slower than the GP2 that went before
Super GT 118.372 1m46.534s 16.534 Japan’s crowd-favourite series has tyre war and sophisticated cars with massive pace
IMSA Daytona Prototype international 119.139 1m47.225s 17.225 North America’s top-level sportscar contest uses LMP2 platform – and builds on that
WEC Le Mans Hypercar 119.386 1m47.447s 17.447 The WEC’s new flagship class is much slower than LMP1 – exactly as was intended
ELMS LMP2 120.779 1m48.701s 18.701 Hugely competitive in 2021, and fewer restrictions in Europe’s top-level sportscar series
WEC LMP2 121.824 1m49.641s 19.641 Artificially pegged back to allow the new Hypercars room to breathe at the front
Indy Lights 122.593 1m50.333s 20.333 Mazda-powered Dallara spec car sits probably the right distance behind IndyCar
IMSA LMP2 122.769 1m50.492s 20.492 Slower than its European equivalents, but then again the field isn’t as competitive
FIA Formula 3 123.18 1m50.862s 20.862 Basically it’s what used to be known as GP3, so no surprise to see it positioned here
Super Formula Lights 126.281 1m53.652s 23.652 Japan’s series for old F3 concept has slim grids, but does have Toyota/Honda proteges
Euroformula Open 126.456 1m53.810s 23.81 Same car as Super Formula Lights, but runs on Michelin tyres instead of Yokohamas
ELMS LMP3 129.603 1m56.642s 26.642 This class has come on in leaps and bounds. Strong fields and competitive racing
WEC GTE 130.388 1m57.349s 27.349 Basically a Porsche-versus-Ferrari battle in 2021; now living on borrowed time
IMSA LMP3 130.611 1m57.549s 27.549 As with LMP2, the field here doesn’t have the same depth as it has in Europe
Indy Pro 2000 130.763 1m57.686s 27.686 New Mazda-engined Tatuus was introduced in 2018. Good performance, not far off Lights
IMSA GT Le Mans 130.927 1m57.834s 27.834 Corvette had very little opposition in 2021, so where you’d expect compared to WEC GTE
Le Mans Cup LMP3 131.006 1m57.905s 27.905 Loses to ‘mother’ ELMS because amateurs qualify, so we’re going on pros in free practice
S5000 131.122 1m58.009s 28.009 Australia’s F5000-inspired series isn’t that fast, but who cares when it’s a V8 soundtrack?
Formula E 131.446 1m58.301s 28.301 Huge step forward from Gen1 to Gen2 machinery. Intriguing to ponder Gen3 prospects
European Formula Regional by Alpine 131.753 1m58.577s 28.577 Massively competitive and sits where you’d expect, halfway between FIA F3 and F4
Toyota Racing Series 131.893 1m58.703s 28.703 New Zealand series has slipped slightly with COVID forcing the internationals out
Japanese Formula Regional 132.505 1m59.254s 29.254 Yet to properly take off, but Alfa-powered Dome car impressively close to Euro equivalent
Asian Formula Regional 133.226 1m59.903s 29.903 Same chassis as Europe, but runs Alfa engine instead of Renault, and Chinese Giti tyres
GB3 133.338 2m00.004s 30.004 UK’s premier single-seater series could overtake FRegional with new 2022 machinery
ELMS GTE 133.399 2m00.059s 30.059 Doesn’t have the factory teams or all-pro line-ups of the WEC’s flagship GTE class
DTM 134.319 2m00.0887s 30.887 Went for its own BoP and Michelins in desperate bid to be fastest GT3 series. It succeeded!
International GT Open 134.731 2m01.257s 31.257 Much more amateur orientation for this GT3 series, but it does run on Michelins
Australian Supercars 135.055 2m01.549s 31.549 The indigenous Australian V8 series blows away its more humble European counterparts
IMSA GTD 135.283 2m01.754s 31.754 Michelins here too for IMSA’s version of GT3, but it’s generally the ams who qualify
Americas Formula Regional 135.531 2m01.977s 31.977 North American take on FRegional uses Honda engine in Ligier chassis. Still growing
GT World Challenge Europe 135.537 2m01.983s 31.983 Phenomenal banner series of GT3 founder SRO, but Pirellis have slowed it down a touch
ADAC GT Masters 135.709 2m02.138s 32.138 This German crowd-pleaser is almost identical to GTWCE, and also uses Pirellis
W Series 136.283 2m02.654s 32.654 Identical Tatuus-Alfa combo to FRegional Asia, but centrally run series lags behind
British GT GT3 136.405 2m02.764s 32.764 Not really any different to GTWCE, but this national series doesn’t have all-pro line-ups
Lamborghini Super Trofeo 136.987 2m03.288s 33.288 Fastest of the one-make GT sportscar series is nicely established as a GTWCE support
USF2000 138.012 2m04.210s 34.21 Bottom rung of Road to Indy ladder impressively sits ahead of European F4 equivalents
Porsche Supercup/German Carrera Cup 138.45 2m04.604s 34.604 F1-supporting and German series both used new 992, with similar pool of competitors
Italian/German Formula 4 138.662 2m04.795s 34.795 Same Tatuus-Abarth car, same Pirelli tyres, and largely the same frontrunning drivers
Spanish Formula 4 139.494 2m05.544s 35.544 Same car as Germany/Italy, but runs on Hankooks and drivers aren’t quite same calibre
GT2 European 139.843 2m05.858s 35.858 SRO’s new GT concept had its first season in 2021, and made a fairly quiet start
Porsche Carrera Cup GB 140.136 2m06.122s 36.122 Stayed with the previous-gen model for 2021, and quality not as high as Supercup
British Formula 4 141.992 2m07.792s 37.792 Mygale-Ford combo way behind Tatuus-Alfa. But GB has followed European lead for 2022
French Formula 4 142.168 2m07.951s 37.951 Same Mygale as Britain, but uses Renault engine. Centrally run, so it’s a decent showing
NASCAR Cup 142.932 2m08.638s 38.638 Multi-billion-dollar series looks bad here, but road courses aren’t its natural habitat…
Japanese Formula 4 143.499 2m09.149s 39.149 Has always had massive grids, but Dome-Toyotas don’t have pace of Euro equivalents
Argentinian Super TC2000 145.595 2m11.035s 41.035 New ORECA two-litre engine and reduction in aero trickery slowed series down in 2019
NASCAR Xfinity Series 145.713 2m11.141s 41.141 NASCAR’s second series is exactly where you’d expect it to be, and where it should be
Brazilian V8 Stock Cars 145.81 2m11.228s 41.228 Hugely entertaining and big-name drivers, even if the cars aren’t the fastest around
Ginetta GT4 Supercup 146.225 2m11.602s 41.602 BTCC’s second-string sportscar support comes out a whisker ahead of the main event
British Touring Car Championship 146.44 2m11.796s 41.796 NGTC regulations set BTCC apart from global tin-tops, but they work spectacularly well
World Touring Car Cup 147.132 2m12.418s 42.418 More production in orientation than NGTC, so you’d expect it to sit behind the BTCC
NASCAR Truck Series 148.454 2m13.608s 43.608 Third-level NASCAR contest is as close to Xfinity as Xfinity is to Cup, so nicely positioned
GT4 European Series 148.496 2m13.646s 43.646 Massive grids and huge intake of young drivers make this the GT entry-level place to be
TCR Europe 148.67 2m13.803s 43.803 Not far off FIA’s global series for the flagship TCR European series. Good competition here
Euro NASCAR Series 149.2 2m14.280s 44.28 Europe’s more-restricted version of NASCAR merrily goes its own way, but not very quick
British GT GT4 149.384 2m14.445s 44.445 Distance to the European equivalent is what you’d expect from a much smaller field
US Formula 4 149.767 2m14.790s 44.79 Enormous fields, but Crawford-Honda combo a long way adrift of other leading F4 series
Alpine Europa Cup 150.822 2m15.739s 45.739 Renault’s long-standing pan-European series is now targeted at early-career drivers
Pure ETCR 151.103 2m15.992s 45.992 Not too shabby a showing for the first year of the audacious electric tin-top initiative
Mini Challenge JCW 156.663 2m20.996s 50.996 Has taken over from Clios on the BTCC support package and sits in roughly same place
Ginetta Junior 176.932 2m39.238s 69.238 Entertaining BTCC support isn’t that quick, but makes up for that with the kids’ racing

Drivers’ View – Tom Blomqvist

Blomqvist races Meyer Shank Acura DPi in IMSA

Blomqvist races Meyer Shank Acura DPi in IMSA

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

The Kiwi-raised Anglo-Swede has moved into DPi’s ranks in IMSA this year with the Meyer Shank Racing Acura, winning January’s Daytona 24 Hours, after vying for the 2021 LMP2 class title in the World Endurance Championship. What does he make of DPi being ahead of Le Mans Hypercars?

“Not surprised. We’re basically like an LMP2 car but the old spec and more power – not as much power as the Hypercar, but way more downforce and lighter. And we’ve got good Michelin tyres, plus all the damping is quite sophisticated, so it’s got good suspension with third elements that control the rideheight. It’s like an ultimate LMP2 car, seriously quick and very enjoyable.”

WEC LMP2 cars fall in behind the European Le Mans Series equivalents.

“They pegged back the [WEC] P2 cars quite a lot last year [to ensure they were slower than LMH],” explains Blomqvist. “They took away power and added weight.” In WEC, they also had to run lighter on downforce: “At Le Mans you’d run that package, Spa you would run a bit more to be honest.” And definitely more at the other venues…

Blomqvist also has a read on Formula E from his time with NIO 333. This is a class that has made real progress since our last speed survey in 2016.

“The Gen2 car went from 200 to 250kW – that’s about 70bhp,” says Blomqvist. “And there are better tyres and so on. I’d say this is the most challenging car because it’s so different to what we grew up racing as kids and every other motorsport series out there.

“When you go testing, it doesn’t bring you the same satisfaction as a high-downforce car, but racing and the technical side bring you a lot of satisfaction. You don’t enjoy wringing its neck, but you have fun in the race!”

Drivers’ View – Jake Hughes

Hughes stepped up to F2 with Van Amersfoort Racing this year, but has extensive experience across multiple single-seater classes below it

Hughes stepped up to F2 with Van Amersfoort Racing this year, but has extensive experience across multiple single-seater classes below it

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

This veteran of the single-seater scene has extensive experience across the junior categories, and has at last been given a full-season shot in FIA Formula 2 with Van Amersfoort Racing.

“The F2 car is very heavy,” Hughes points out. “It feels very stiff now with the 18-inch tyres – kerbs are a noticeable shock. But it has a lot of aero, and the carbon brakes are very impressive. The difference between amazing and average is the tyre. If it had something less temperature-sensitive it would be impressive in medium and high-speed, but the tyre means you can’t use as much as you think you can, although the soft is very good for one lap.”

From the next level down, Hughes raced the Dallara F317 European F3 car from which the current 320 Euroformula Open machine evolved, and also has plenty of current-spec FIA F3 mileage under his belt.

“They produce lap time in the completely opposite way,” he says. “The European F3 was so impressive in corners and so light. Everybody who’s driven that car falls in love with it because you can just throw it around, and on the Michelin [currently used in EFO] its peak grip must be even more impressive. With the FIA F3, I’ve been on pole but didn’t feel it was an amazing lap. It’s a heavy car for what it is, and the tyre is limiting. If you could keep pushing on peak grip, you’d feel it was very good.”

In his earlier days, Hughes raced Formula Renault, and has also competed in its FRegional successor in Europe and Asia: “The Regional is heavy, a turbo engine with lag, not a lot of downforce. You have to be smooth and pre-emptive in your corrections. You feel like you have to underdrive it to get a time out of it.”

Drivers’ View – Sacha Fenestraz

Fenestraz is a mainstay of Japan's two primary classes, Super Formula and Super GT

Fenestraz is a mainstay of Japan’s two primary classes, Super Formula and Super GT

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

The amiable Frenchman and former Lando Norris housemate is hugely enjoying his career in Japan. COVID-19 immigration tribulations largely put the kybosh upon things of late, but he’s now back full-time in Super Formula with Kondo Racing and Super GT with Toyota works team TOM’S.

Fenestraz explains that although the Dallara SF19 single-seater is a spec car, there is engineering freedom:

“The bodywork and chassis are fixed, but you can have your own dampers, third elements, bump rubbers – that’s open. And on the engine side, Toyota and I’m sure Honda use Super Formula not only to keep the drivers driving, but secondly to use it as development for the Super GT engine [the same four-cylinder, two-litre turbo powerplants are used]. For them, Super Formula is not the most important championship – it’s all about Super GT.”

The Yokohama tyres used here are a key aspect of the pace, but could be quicker…

“The cars are so fast, so grippy, and the Japanese tyres are amazing,” enthuses Fenestraz. “But if we had Bridgestones [as used by TOM’S in the Super GT tyre war] we would be quicker.”

Fenestraz describes the GR Supra GT500 machine as “I think one of the hardest cars to drive in my career so far. You have to slide it a lot, and this tendency is really tricky. There is a lot of tyre development and we have a lot of testing with Bridgestone, where we have around 10 sets a day and all are a little bit different. To keep the costs down you don’t have the third element [in the suspension] but you have a lot of downforce. It’s pure driving and it’s really quick.

“I like the two cars for different things. The feeling of downforce in Super Formula is great, but Super GT you learn a lot as you go through the year.”

Drivers’ View – Nick Yelloly

Yelloly races for BMW across multiple GT3-based series

Yelloly races for BMW across multiple GT3-based series

Photo by: Gruppe C GmbH

Such has been the explosion of GT3 racing across the globe that it can be tough to work out the little intricacies across the various series. But BMW factory driver Nick Yelloly, who will campaign the new M4 GT3 in the GT World Challenge Europe this season and has contested the early-season IMSA blue-ribands with the Rahal Letterman squad, is well-placed to explain. And it’s tyres that are the obvious starting point.

“For this year Pirelli [supplier to GTWCE] have upped their game,” says Yelloly. “Last year it was pretty peaky – it was a similar lap time to the Michelin [used in IMSA and the DTM] on one lap, but degraded. I’ve only done the Paul Ricard test on the new Pirelli, but it seems that its peak is on a par with the Michelin for one lap, if not better, and degradation-wise we’ve found we can manage it much more like a Michelin. I think they’ve done it to keep up with the DTM.

“Also you have to take into account Balance of Performance. It’s different from SRO [which runs GTWCE] to IMSA to DTM. All championships have different power outputs depending on who’s doing well. You could have 10 or 20 millibars of boost here and there, or a bit of weight added.”

As such, car development is aimed more at providing a car that’s comfortable to drive consistently. “The main thing is to get it correct for the gentleman drivers,” points out Yelloly. “The M6 [which the M4 replaces this year] was difficult to drive even as a pro, but an Am can drive the M4 consistently and well.”

Yelloly has also had race-winning success in Germany’s ADAC GT Masters, which uses the same Pirelli as GTWCE: “I really enjoy that series – it’s tough, hard racing. People forget that so many drivers who could or should have made it to F1 are in GT. The level is just unbelievable.”

GT Masters series uses Pirellis, much like GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup

GT Masters series uses Pirellis, much like GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz