Nicolas Lapierre made the switch to endurance racing some 15 years ago and agrees wholeheartedly with his boss. “The difference is night and day,” he concurs. “In endurance racing, you want your team-mates to be as fast as possible, whereas your instinct in single-seaters is to trounce everybody else! It’s a completely different mentality.”
Having three drivers sharing the same car clearly calls for compromise, as Philippe Sinault explains: “In endurance racing, not only must you be willing to look after the brakes for the driver who takes over from you after a stint, but you must be mindful of your fuel consumption and accept that you’re not always going to have fresh tires. You’re forever having to make compromises and think about your team-mates, while still pushing as hard as possible. That can lead to decisions that may surprise those who are unfamiliar with the sport. The seating position inside the cockpit is an example that springs to mind.”
Finding drivers who are capable of taking these values on board and sharing them with their team-mates is no simple matter. “At Alpine Elf Endurance Team, not only do I play a hands-on role in tracking down the ideal trio, but I’m happy to admit that it’s the part of my job I prefer,” he confesses.
Some teams carry out a detailed analysis of the performance of prospective drivers. Others may be tempted by certain nationalities for marketing reasons, or to seek out drivers with similar styles. Alpine Elf Endurance Team’s boss has no hesitation when it comes to defining his guiding influence as far as recruitment goes. “In my opinion, the number one priorities are team spirit and overall approach,” he states. “There is no easy key, though. No guaranteed recipe. It’s essentially a gut feeling whether someone is a good fit for the dynamic you’re looking to achieve.”