Audi's Rinaldo Capello believes the dispute over the legality of the R15 TDI has come at the wrong time for sports car racing, when the category should be taking advantage of the instability in Formula 1 to boost its profile.
Peugeot yesterday protested against Audi's front bodywork and although the ACO declared the R15 legal
, Peugeot intends to take its appeal to the FIA. So the result of this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours may not be confirmed until weeks after the race.
With the future of F1 up in the air, and several manufacturers believed to be considering Le Mans projects if they do not enter F1 next year, Capello says Peugeot's unsuccessful protest and subsequent appeal is unsettling sports car racing when it should be thriving.
"That is a very bad side of the race," Capello told AUTOSPORT. "Especially in this moment when Formula 1 has a lot of political problems, this would be the right moment for sports cars to look better and increase its popularity.
"That is what we need because now we have nice, fast cars, very good drivers and it should be a great show for everybody. If we start having political problems in our own category, it allows F1 to look better than us. It would be the right moment to switch and look better than them."
Putting the dispute to one side, Capello is expecting a closely-fought race between Audi and Peugeot this weekend.
"I think Peugeot learned a lot from the debacle they had last year," he said. "I think they learned quite a lot about strategy and some of the mistakes they have done. But I know we have a better car than last year, a faster car than last year. We will be much closer to them, I hope even better, than before. That's why I am confident on our strengths but I know we will fight even harder than last year to beat them.
"This is what the spectators want, what the show needs, because the more fighting we will make on the racetrack the better it is for everybody."Related stories:• Full Q&A with Rinaldo Capello• ACO declares Audi bodywork legal• Le Mans invites F1 manufacturers