An eye on the clock : Maximum driving time allowed

How long can a driver be behind the wheel at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and why does temperature matter?

How long can a driver be behind the wheel at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and why does temperature matter?

Once the race starts at 15h00 on Saturday 17 June, engineers up and down the pit lane will take up their places on the pit wall for the duration of the event.  Mechanics can snatch a little sleep between pit stops, drivers can take to their beds for a break between stints behind the wheel, but the engineers are there for the long haul!

Among the many things they monitor throughout is the minimum and maximum driving time for each of the three drivers in their car(s).  This is strictly regulated for safety reasons and the wellbeing of the drivers, and keeping a close eye on the stopwatch can prevent unwanted penalties…

Driving time at Le Mans

Minimum driving time:  In LMP1, LMP2 and GTE Am, a driver must not drive less than 6 hours during the 24 Hours of Le Mans; the penalty for infringing this regulation is at the discretion of the Stewards but could go as far as exclusion.  In LMGTE Pro there is no regulated minimum driving time.

Maximum driving time:  In all categories, a driver cannot drive for more than 4 hours within a 6-hour period (not including time stopped in the pits), and for a maximum of 14 hours in total.

Photo:  6 Hours of Nurburgring 2015 - it was hot for Mathias Beche!

Temperature matters

Maximum cockpit temperatures are carefully monitored by both teams and officials, as medical and safety research has shown potential degradation of a driver’s performance in very high temperatures.

There is a limitation of the continuous driving time to 80 minutes if the ambient temperatures reach 32°C and cars do not have air conditioning.  The minimum rest time in the period of application of this rule must be 30 minutes between consecutive stints. The official maximum ambient temperature predicted and the periods of application will be published 2 hours before the start of the race.