Le Mans: Real racing cars at last

Andrew Hopkins

When I ask a typical reader what a racing car should look like, he generally lists such features as wide tyres, a gigantic rear spoiler and a pointy nosecone. All of these have disappeared from Formula One. The mighty rear wings have been clipped, the tyres may have lost their ultra-cautious grooves but are still ludicrously narrow and the likes of Renault look as if they get punched in the nose every day.

Yet when I take a walk along the pit lane at the Le Mans 24-hour classic, I see pure thoroughbred racing cars in front of all the garages - you can even excuse the Peugeot prototype with its roof. "After Formula One, LMP1 is the fastest series in motorsport," we are assured by former winner Marco Werner. Retired F1 driver Olivier Panis is well qualified to make the comparison. In an interview with autoblog, he said: "The car is more direct and heavier, but in terms of downforce, it is quite similar to an F1 machine. It's a fun event." And maybe that's the one thing that has been missing from Formula One with all its recent political machinations - the fun element.