Where F1 tests endurance over an entire year, Le Mans tests drivers’ grit around the clock. Both racing formats are pretty old but age has only made them stronger with time. Today’s auto industry is not dictated by any single format. Road cars are manufactured using technology from all racing fronts. In Formula 1, the Mercedes team has been leading the race of manufacturing the best race cars most of which have come in the V6 turbo era. Le Mans has Toyota that together with Fernando Alonso won 2019 Le Mans title. Despite the inventions coming from them, debates continue to decide which format is better. We look at some of the facts related to both types of racing before deciding which is better.
Formula 1 races have been around since 1950. From Baggio’s title win in the first F1 championship to Hamilton’s sixth, every year F1 races bring an around-the-year racing experience that no other entity on this planet can. F1 racecars are considered the fastest in the world with an average horsepower of 950 hp under the latest regulations. In addition to its outstanding horsepower, the car features rare aerodynamics in and around it. Ferrari has been one of the leading F1 manufacturers to produce impressive cars throughout its history.
Before the V6 Turbo Hybrid era, cars were even more powerful. If we keep going back in time, the cars keep getting powerful. Conversely, cars have become more efficient in consuming fuel. The new hybrid engines do just that. They increase the overall efficiency of the car. As a result, the car emits less harmful gases. However, hybrid technology has become quite prevalent over the last years both in F1 and other racing formats.
Another key factor in the F1 races is the quality of the tyres. It is a detail that often needs days of attention from the engineers and drivers. The tyres are sensitive in F1. Because the race is more about the formula than the endurance, the tyres are intentionally made sensitive. Pirelli is the official tyre maker in F1. The compound used to make these tyres is also an important detail to consider for every team in forming their strategy to compete in an F1 race. These tyres are very different to the Michelin tyres used in Le Mans not because they are of inferior quality but because the competition is based around entirely different strategies.
In terms of the type of competition, F1 is less about winning trophies for the team. For that reason, there are two titles in F1 – one for the driver and one for the constructor. Every team has two drivers driving in two cars. Even though teams decide the rules of a duel between their drivers in F1 races beforehand, it is still every man for himself kind of situation. Consequently, teammates often end up having cruel rivalries in the races. Drivers focus on winning the championship for themselves more than for their team.
24 Hours of Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans is the oldest car racing format which was first held in 1923. As the name suggests, it is held near the town of Le Mans, France. Being the most respected race in the world, it is also counted in the Triple Crown of Motorsport. While most of the other races require cars to finish in as minimum time as possible, Le Mans demands from the winner to drive the car as much as possible. Covering the most distance gets a team the Le Mans trophy. However, it is easier said than done as many of the teams keep dropping out because their rides lack the stamina to run over a long period at a fast pace. Le Mans is also famously called the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency.
If you are wondering what Le Mans has to offer, you probably have not watched Ford v Ferrari, a movie about a car engineer and driver Ken Miles who makes an incredible car for Ford to race in the Le Mans. The old endurance race is really all about endurance. Any racing car dreaming to win the race cannot afford any sort of mechanical failure. The car has to race for 24 hours. That means the track conditions vary fast and the driver does not have much time to adapt.
Racing cars of Le Mans have one thing in common with the F1 cars – both use an efficient engine that does not consume fuel like fire. Ever since the advent of hybrid engines, racing sports have become more humanized. Nonetheless, they are a long way from getting to carbon-zero. So far, Toyota is enjoying its run in 24 Hrs. They have won two titles in a row with the former F1 driver, Fernando Alonso.
This unique 24-hour long race is a team sport which points to the fact that all the drivers in the car are driving not just for personal glory. Unlike F1, winning for the team is the highest priority. Lastly, the Michelin tyres of Le Mans are made to endure.
Despite the challenging nature of Le Mans, F1 is clearly the winner among the two races. Formula 1 spans over an entire year and that allows the teams to tweak a lot of things throughout this time. That said, 24 Hours of Le Mans still has much to offer in terms of testing the endurance of cars. In terms of fan-following, F1 again comes out a winner. But if you are looking for a classic challenge in the racing world, no race comes closer to Le Mans.