Le Mans Ultimate Hybrid Guide: Efficiency Over Power

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More power – or not? Our Le Mans Ultimate Hybrid Guide gives you an overview over the system found in most Hypercars.

Modern racing cars are complicated. And while they are no LMP1-level space ships, the current breed of Hypercars racing in WEC and IMSA are quite complex in their own right. Sporting both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, things are not as simple as flooring the throttle and running the fuel tank dry.

In fact, a bit more thought than usual has to go into your stint planning. As there are different engine concepts in use in Hypercars and it is the day and age of Balance of Performance, the hybrid systems are more than just a tool to enhance power. Instead, they also serve an important role in balancing the cars.

Side note: Yes, we are aware that the ‘HY’ on the prototypes stands for Hypercar and not Hybrid, but it still made for a good header image. So, we decided to go for it! Never mind. That's what the separate Hypercar sticker is for. Duh. Anyway, on with the guide!

Le Mans Ultimate Hybrid: Virtual Energy Tank​

All but two Hypercars in Le Mans Ultimate have an electric motor on board. The exceptions are the Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH and the Vanwall Vandervell 680, which solely rely on internal combustion engines. And yet, you will likely have noticed the NRG meter in your HUD if you have driven any of these Hypercars in LMU, with or without hybrid systems. So what gives?

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What is this bar under our fuel gauge trying to tell us?

The NRG (read: energy) meter shows the status of the so called Virtual Energy Tank. It is not really a tank as such, as running it dry does not mean that there is no more electric power or fuel in the car. Instead, it shows the amount of energy that a Hypercar is allowed to use in total over the course of a stint, as per the BoP.

This aims to equalize the different engine concepts. For the Glickenhaus and Vanwall, it means that it solely refers to how much fuel they have burnt. For the other Hypercars, the NRG meter is an aggregate of both fuel consumption and electric power used – basically, a fuel comprised of both gasoline and electric energy combined. The hybrid systems are aimed to target efficiency instead of performance.

Beware of Virtual Energy Tank penalties!​

Simply put, you have to pit before your NRG meter hits 0% – even if you could keep going with the fuel and battery charge you may have left. If you do, though, you will be hit with a stop-and-go penalty. Upon release, this penalty was 200 seconds, but it might be adjusted to the 100 seconds WEC actually uses for the first offense. Each additional offense will increase the penalty by a further 100 seconds in real life.

Hence, it is important to keep in mind that you do not need to fill your fuel tank to the brim to maximize stint lengths. Overfilling the tank can result in shorter refueling times during pit stops, however, as you will not need to take on as much additional fuel.

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Despite not having hybrid systems, the Vanwall (pictured) and the Glickenhaus Hypercars also have a Virtual Energy Tank.

Le Mans Ultimate Hybrid: How Does It Work?​

Difference Between LMH & LMDh​

While both compete in the Hypercar class, it is important to differentiate between cars built to LMH regulations, so the Toyota GR010 Hybrid, Ferrari 499P and Peugeot 9X8, and those built to LMDh regulations, meaning the Porsche 963 and Cadillac V-Series.R. The Vanwall and the Glickenhaus are built to LMH regulations, but, as stated above, do not feature hybrid systems.

Depending on the cars’ subclass, the hybrid deployment works differently. The LMDh cars have constant hybrid deployment, as is evident by their leaving the pits under electric power only at first with the combustion engine kicking in at a certain speed only, but their peak output is lower. It also only goes to the rear axle of the cars.

LMH cars, on the other hand, have a certain threshold for when the hybrid power kicks in. This is different per car, but well above 100 kph for all of them. The power gets sent to the front wheels instead of the rear like it did for the older LMP1 cars, which unlike for LMDh car is not mandatory. It can be beneficial to a car’s traction in certain situations, however. The threshold can be altered in the BoP, but not by the teams themselves.

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Hypercars like the Toyota GR010 Hybrid are complex beasts.

Le Mans Ultimate Hybrid: Available Adjustments​

All of this may sound like as a driver, you do not really have control over the hybrid system. There are adjustments available, however, and they concern the deployment (Electric Motor Map) and the recuperation (Regen Level).

These can either be set in the car setup, or adjusted on the fly while driving via assigned buttons or LMU‘s in-car menu. To use them to your advantage, you can change them from maximum to completely off and certain increments in between.

Electric Motor Map
An important difference to the LMP1 class that preceded the Hypercars is that the cars will hit their top speeds with their combustion engines alone, meaning the hybrid s not an essential part to achieve these speeds. It is, however, important for fuel consumption. More hybrid deployment, as in a higher Electric Motor Map, means less fuel being burnt, and vice versa.

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In-car adjustment options for the hybrid system.

Regen Level
So, aside from saving fuel, which you could just take more of at the pit stop, why bother with the hybrid system? Well, the recuperation is actually more important to the overall handling of the car than you might think.

As Michi Hoyer, who is involved in developing the Le Mans Ultimate as a test driver, explains in his in-depth video, the electric motor is an essential part of the Hypercars’ braking system. When recuperating energy to recharge the battery, it gives a car additional braking performance on the axle the motor is attached to.

As a result, you do not want to either switch off recuperation or run with a fully-charged battery without deployment, as your braking will be compromised. You could run with both cranked up to the maximum, but then your battery will likely be completely drained within a few corners.

Another important bit of advice of Hoyer’s is to never pit with an empty battery when racing an LMDh car – if you do, you will not be able to pull away from your pit stall as the car does not have the electric energy to get going again. And that would be an extremely annoying way for your race to end.

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The pits are in sight, but the battery of your LMDh is completely drained – that will be a DNF if you don’t get it recharged!

Le Mans Ultimate Hybrid: Striking A Balance​

Extracting the best mileage from the Le Mans Ultimate hybrid system is key, as you can see. That means finding the best balance between Regen Level and Electric Motor Map is important, but can be rather complicated.

As a rule of thumb, leaving the Regen Level at its maximum setting while adjusting the Electric Motor Map as needed regarding your fuel usage. At least in our experience, this has worked well enough to be competitive in the daily and weekly races on the LMU schedule.

Need a pointer as to what the differences between the three car classes in LMU are? We got you covered with our guide to Hypercar, LMP2 & GTE as well.

How do you like racing the Hypercars? Has our Le Mans Ultimate hybrid guide helped you understand the system better? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

Nice explanation of the concept, from what can be seen on Discord, many seem to have struggled with it.

Side Note: Be aware, the "HY" sticker stands for Hybrid and not Hypercar, so the screenshot does make a fitting Header image indeed ;)
 
Great explanation, not my idea of fun and what I am looking for in racing, but I understand some might find it fascinating. No Regen for me, I guess I am old school.:)
Going back to racing a 1978 F1 at old Hockenheim, may or may be rain, that is as far I am going to complicate it.
What a world we live in! :O_o:
 
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Staff
Premium
Side Note: Be aware, the "HY" sticker stands for Hybrid and not Hypercar, so the screenshot does make a fitting Header image indeed ;)
Well, now I feel dumb - especially since there's a separate Hypercar sticker on the cars. Whoops :D
 
No one wants these Rube Goldberg machines. It's supposed to be (primarily) a sport of driver skill, not "who can write the best code to manage the onboard systems". I bet the Garage 56 Camaro (with more aggressive aero) or a SuperGT GT500 would be faster over a lap, with far less needless complexity, all while requiring vastly more driver skill to drive.
 
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No one wants these Rube Goldberg machines. It's supposed to be (primarily) a sport of driver skill, not "who can write the best code to manage the onboard systems". I bet the Garage 56 Camaro (with more aggressive aero) or a SuperGT GT500 would be faster over a lap, with far less needless complexity, all while requiring vastly more driver skill to drive.
Speak for yourself. Don't say no want wants things just because you don't understand how they work. You are free to go elsewhere.

Pretty sure motor racing was always about seeing who could make the fastest car. The whole history of Le Mans has been centered around the competition between car manufacturers. Plenty of other spec series out there with simple to understand cars, champ, go enjoy those.
 
Premium
When recuperating energy to recharge the battery, it gives a car additional braking performance on the axle the motor is attached to.

@Yannik Haustein I'm not sure it works the way you're saying it does. Hybrid cars are less efficient at braking exactly because part of the energy that's needed to stop the car gets harvested to replenish the battery. You can see that if you've been following WEC by the onboards, with Hypercars having longer braking zones in comparison. I also have a hybrid car as my daily and the first thing I noticed when I first started to drive it was that I had sensibly less braking force than with my previous ICE car.
Might be it's as you're describing it, however you might wanna double check that. In general, when writing technical articles, it would be better to read as many books, documents and pamphlets as possible about the subject and then quote the appropriate parts for the readers to make it possible for them to have a reference and possibly check that source themselves. YouTube videos of course are also great, as long as they come from qualified professionals in the area you're writing about. My two cents from my own experience and education ;)

No one wants these Rube Goldberg machines. It's supposed to be (primarily) a sport of driver skill, not "who can write the best code to manage the onboard systems". I bet the Garage 56 Camaro (with more aggressive aero) or a SuperGT GT500 would be faster over a lap, with far less needless complexity, all while requiring vastly more driver skill to drive.
That needless complexity is why we evolved from the Benz Wagon to these marvels. If we were to be stuck in the past than we would still be sitting around the fire with stone spears in our hands.
Driver skill is involved in not only driving but managing these cars, probably this detail has slipped by you. It's like saying a F-18 pilot is less skilled than a S.E.5 pilot. They are skilled in the exact same way, only one has also learned to manage a lot more on his plate.
 
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Premium
That's what I thought as well at first, and that's the way it was in the LMP1 cars. But, just like the way deployment works in the Hypercars, this is rather counterintuitive, as Hoyer also explains in the linked video. No recuperation equals missing brake force, which the brakes of the axle to which the e-motor is attached to have to make up, and the result is that you lose the car. So not necessarily longer braking distances, but rather brakes overheating and locking up on the opposite axle. Complex beasts, these tings :D
 
Premium
That's what I thought as well at first, and that's the way it was in the LMP1 cars. But, just like the way deployment works in the Hypercars, this is rather counterintuitive, as Hoyer also explains in the linked video. No recuperation equals missing brake force, which the brakes of the axle to which the e-motor is attached to have to make up, and the result is that you lose the car. So not necessarily longer braking distances, but rather brakes overheating and locking up on the opposite axle. Complex beasts, these tings :D

Mm it's definitely an interesting topic, to delve into! I still don't get it, but you said it's counter-intuitive. Time to read some more I guess :roflmao: absolutely, very complex, but that's what makes them appealing to me (and I guess a lot other people too :D)

By the way, are you the same Yannik from SRMZ? :)
 
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I absolutely love that LMU has done this right...

No half job like other sims... Giving you what makes the Hypercars special...
 
Can someone give me easy tips how to use this in practice? What settings to what race condition? Rules of thumb for different strategies?

Say I want just an 18 min race in Portimao or 1h in Le Mans. What settings are optimal?
 
Can someone give me easy tips how to use this in practice? What settings to what race condition? Rules of thumb for different strategies?

Say I want just an 18 min race in Portimao or 1h in Le Mans. What settings are optimal?
There are no "optimal" settings. It varies by car and your personal driving style.
Generally, however, you absolutely want 200kW of regeneration in LMH and 170KW in LMDh the majority of the time, unless you have absolutely nailed down the concept of NRG and how to efficiently manage it.
Then, again as a rule of thumb, when starting a race, you want 100kW minimum in LMH, or 50kW in LMDh, in deployment. This is so that your battery absolutely will not hit 100% again under heavy braking in T1. In an LMH car, this will cause you to spin out as you lose a majority of your front brake bias. In an LMDh car, this will cause you to slide and lock up the fronts, as the e-motor is at the rear and thus your brake bias will suddenly be like 65%+ front.
Once you are settled in, it's good practice to gradually dial down the hybrid deployment until you find the groove. What I have found with the LMH cars is that you can quite easily drive a couple of efficient laps with 60-80kW deployment at Monza before the battery reaches 20% or lower, at which point you should dial the deploy back to 20kW or so until you are charged up again.

There's potentially much more to it, but these are just general suggestions when driving the Hypercars. As for your examples of Portimao or Le Mans, again, it's impossible to just suggest settings. There are too many nuances. The Peugeot, for example, starts hybrid deployment at 150kph. This means, at that speed, you gain AWD capabilities, which can be insanely handy when speeding through the Porsche and Karting Esses before the finish. Or smashing the throttle in the Parabolica at Monza. However, the effect will only be noticable if you crank up your deploy power to at least 80kW, preferably 120kW+. The Ferrari and Toyota only deploy at 190kph, so the effect will be different and even more situational.
 
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There are no "optimal" settings. It varies by car and your personal driving style.
Generally, however, you absolutely want 200kW of regeneration in LMH and 170KW in LMDh the majority of the time, unless you have absolutely nailed down the concept of NRG and how to efficiently manage it.
Then, again as a rule of thumb, when starting a race, you want 100kW minimum in LMH, or 50kW in LMDh, in deployment. This is so that your battery absolutely will not hit 100% again under heavy braking in T1. In an LMH car, this will cause you to spin out as you lose a majority of your front brake bias. In an LMDh car, this will cause you to slide and lock up the fronts, as the e-motor is at the rear and thus your brake bias will suddenly be like 65%+ front.
Once you are settled in, it's good practice to gradually dial down the hybrid deployment until you find the groove. What I have found with the LMH cars is that you can quite easily drive a couple of efficient laps with 60-80kW deployment at Monza before the battery reaches 20% or lower, at which point you should dial the deploy back to 20kW or so until you are charged up again.

There's potentially much more to it, but these are just general suggestions when driving the Hypercars. As for your examples of Portimao or Le Mans, again, it's impossible to just suggest settings. There are too many nuances. The Peugeot, for example, starts hybrid deployment at 150kph. This means, at that speed, you gain AWD capabilities, which can be insanely handy when speeding through the Porsche and Karting Esses before the finish. Or smashing the throttle in the Parabolica at Monza. However, the effect will only be noticable if you crank up your deploy power to at least 80kW, preferably 120kW+. The Ferrari and Toyota only deploy at 190kph, so the effect will be different and even more situational.
Thank you. I guess it'll come with practice. I drive the Ferrari most of the time.
 
Premium
Well, at least i know why I've had a hard time driving these cars! I had no understanding of any of this and the unusual lack of brakes, sudden spins and strange no grip feelings were a bit annoying. Now i can set out to learn each car one at a time and see which one fits. Thanks for the heads up Yannik! And all the comments are very helpful as well
 
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