In performance terms, the World Rally Championship is bracing itself for a single step forward leading to a couple in the opposite direction next season.
That the World Rally Car replacement – the Rally1 car – will be slower than its predecessor is beyond question.
The physics are simple: at least an extra 220lb of battery on board with the same output from internal combustion being boosted every now and then by another 100bhp of electric power means getting from position A to position B on a map will take longer. And that’s before we’ve even considered the loss of aero grip from watered down wings and splitters.
As well as doing all he can to engineer more speed from a slower package, Toyota’s Tom Fowler told DirtFish another job for the team will be managing the expectations of the speed-hungry drivers.
“The car will be so different,” said Fowler.
“We need to understand from all of the drivers what is the new normal. I’m pretty sure when they jumped from a 2016 to a 2017 World Rally Car they had a massive boost in power and a lot of aero and it’s always nice for a driver to go from a slower car to a faster car.
“But with the new regulation they’re going to lose some aero, gain some weight and the delivery of power is going to be different. To make sure the expectation of the driver is in the right area is going to be a bit of a challenge.
“Our sport is about going from A to B with the tool that you have, but you always like to look at what was the fastest ever stage time; we have benchmarks around the world where a road hasn’t changed very much and a stage is identical and we talk about what was the time here for the last 20 years.
“But, in the end, that doesn’t really matter. It’s about who’s going to be fastest on the day. And the way of getting there with these cars is, for sure, going to be different. There’s going to be some compromises and there will be some areas where we improve, but globally I think we need to make sure everybody is looking from the right mindset.”