In F1 contention, Mercedes must return to Le Mans in 2024

In F1 contention, Mercedes must return to Le Mans in 2024

Mercedes CLR during the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans

Photo: Martin Lee/Wikimedia Commons

In F1, Mercedes had the longest period of dominance in history: there were seven drivers’ and eight constructors’ titles in a row. But the game turned. Since 2022, with the change of regulations, the team has not been able to find itself, even if it won the race in Brazil last year. But that can’t be said about the automaker’s GT program.

The various teams using the Mercedes AMG GT3 have nothing to complain about. The automaker won several championships, such as the DTM and GT World Challenge. The brand also shows its good phase in the most important races, it is the current champion of the 24 Hours of Spa, the 12 Hours of Bathurst, the 8 Hours of Indianapolis and the 8 Hours of Kyalami and in the 24 Hours of Daytona (GTD Pro Class. )

Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo during the 2023 Nurburgring 24 Hours

Photo: AMG Motorsport/Twitter

In 2024, the automaker is eyeing a spot in the world’s longest running race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This happens because the WEC will replace the GTE and GT3 platform. In the current LMGTE class, we have four car manufacturers: Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Corvette, but the number of car manufacturers is expected to increase in 2024 with the introduction of new regulations.

The organization has already announced that it will give priority to car manufacturers that are and will enter the Hypercars class to enter this new class: Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Lamborghini, Chevrolet (Cadillac). Although the details of the class, which will be called LMGT3, have not yet been released, it is already known that the brands will not be able to have official representation, only from customers.

However, Mercedes makes no secret that its priority is to be in the traditional French race in 2024. ASP, the carmaker’s main customer team in the GT World Challenge, has already revealed that it has plans to be in the championship in 2024. .to set a limit of two cars per car maker, which could help the entry of cars from the German car maker.

If confirmed, Mercedes should return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans after a 25-year absence. The company has a short but remarkable history in the race. It won in 1952. In the 1955 edition, it was one of the favorites and confirmed the bet. But after Pierre Levegh’s car had a fatal crash and stopped on the stands, killing 84 people (including the pilot himself) and leaving 180 injured, in the biggest tragedy in the history of motorsport. The carmaker decided to phase out its cars and abandon motorcycles at the highest levels (F1 and Le Mans) for several years, leaving only its efforts in the touring and rallying categories.

The legendary Sauber C9

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the 1980s, the automaker returned to Le Mans, supporting Sauber, the same team that is now in F1, under the Alfa Romeo name. In 1989, the Sauber C9 won the race, with the M119 5.0L Turbo V8 engine of 820 hp, that year the car was able to reach 400 km / h during the qualifying sessions. In 1990, Mercedes decided to focus only on the World Championship, without participating in the race. In 1991, after many disasters, the C11 model did not win the race, losing to the Mazda 787B.

Between 1992 and 1997, there was no participation in Le Mans. In 1998, Mercedes took a big test with the CLK-LM, which was a variant of the CLK-GTR that won the FIA ​​GT in 1997. In addition, the change was from a V12 engine to a V8 engine, which was seen as a long-term improvement, but it ended failed and the cars were abandoned at the start of the race.

In 1999, Mercedes bet on a very radical concept that ended up not working. and built a flying car that was completely unstable: the Mercedes CLR. After several accidents, the Germans decided to abandon the race and never returned since then. This story has already been told in Parabólica.

Mercedes-AMG One

Photo: Mercedes-Benz/Twitter

But there is still a question in the air: can Mercedes enter the Hypercars Class? The automaker recently presented the AMG One, a road car with an F1 engine and several active technologies. Entering this class would be difficult: it would face several disadvantages to enter the control and not be recognized. Additionally, a prototype project does not appear to be in the racing department’s plans.