FIA World Endurance Championship 2017
2016. An awesome year of motorsport for
The first stop of the FIA WEC 2017, and one of the season's fastest tracks. With its combination of wide, sweeping curves and many medium-length straights, it requires extremely precise vehicle tuning. The right balance of powerful downforce and minimum air resistance is vital here. Added to this is the English weather with its often surprising rain and strong winds, which can affect the vehicle’s handling, especially on fast stretches.
A traditional race track located near the Belgian/German border, where the final race before the 24h of Le Mans takes place. With its long, sweeping curves, which often follow fast, ascending or descending straights, it is rightly nicknamed the "rollercoaster". Two bends in particular characterise this name: Eau Rouge – a descent that is approached at around 300km/h and pushes drivers firmly back into their seats. And Blanchimont – a fast 300 km/h left-hand curve that demands the drivers' full attention due to its lack of run-off areas.
The legendary race track of the 24h of Le Mans. The race where we achieved our 18th overall victory in 2016. No long-distance race has more tradition and history. None demands as much from our teams and cars. The nature of the course plays an important role in this: the circuit mainly consists of public country roads that seamlessly merge into the race track. This section is also home to the famous Mulsanne straight. An almost 5-kilometre-long straight with two chicanes, on which our prototypes reach up to 340km/h. One special feature: as the road is driven all year round, the tarmac is deeply rutted. At speeds in excess of 300 km/h, extreme concentration is required, especially at night. At 13.629 kilometres per lap, "Circuit de la Sarthe" is the longest track in the FIA WEC race calendar.
The FIA WEC includes this 5.148-kilometre long circuit, along with its renowned Nordschleife. Apart from on the starting and finishing straight, overtaking is difficult on this circuit, which makes the qualifying and pit stop strategy all the more crucial. Another feature of the track and its location is the changeable Eifel weather. Drivers and teams must be prepared for anything here. What begins as a sunny summer's day can end in rain and fog at any time.
A 4.850-kilometre long circuit in the middle of Mexico City. Named after the country's most famous racing driver, this track has a long tradition. It reopened in 2015 following extensive renovations. Although the existing track layout was basically retained, there were lots of safety-related changes. One particular feature challenges drivers and technology alike: due to its 2,285-metre altitude, the air is relatively thin.
A race track in Austin, Texas, which was developed under the guidance of the German architect, Hermann Tilke. The 5.5-kilometre long circuit is inspired by traditional European race tracks, containing sections such as "Becketts" from Silverstone and "Motodrom" from the Hockenheim Ring. It is characterised by the large differences in altitude which are also typical of many other US circuits. Circuit of the Americas is one of the few anti-clockwise race tracks, with more left than right-hand curves.
This Japanese race track is located around 100 kilometres south-west of Tokyo. Originally designed as a speedway in line with the US model, it opened as a race track in 1965. Its current layout was developed in 2005, following a comprehensive overhaul. The circuit boasts an impressive 1.5-kilometre long straight, on which the prototypes reach extremely high speeds. But the tuning demands precision: the long straight requires low air resistance and the many fast curves call for maximum downforce. Stefan Bellof still holds the lap record, which he set with his
A Chinese race track that first opened in 2004. The circuit is modelled on the shape of the Chinese symbol, "Schang", which means "high up". The track layout is both unconventional and demanding, as illustrated by the first curve after the start/finsih and straight, which forms an almost complete 360-degree circle. Over the course of the race, this becomes increasingly tight and must be approached at a constantly decreasing speed. Selecting the right line for the "snail curve" is as difficult as it is decisive.
The final race of the season. The WEC first came here in 2012, to what was then a 6.299-kilometre long race track. Since 2013, the circuit has adopted the 5.412-kilometre long version, as in Formula 1. The course mainly consists of unprotected stretches in the Sakhir desert, which is why the hot wind often carries dust and sand on to the tarmac. While the circuit is rather slippery, the sand produces improved grip levels when the ideal line is followed. As a consequence, overtaking is particularly challenging. As sandstorms are also a frequent occurrence in Bahrain, special air filters are required in order to prevent engine damage.