Anthony Davidson says traffic will play a huge role in the outcome of the Le Mans 24 Hours after admitting that moving through the GTE field during the race had become a more difficult proposition this year thanks to the new regulations applied to the LMP1 class.
With the rules now dictating that turbodiesel manufacturers, Audi and Peugeot, must build smaller engines down to 3.7-litres, cutting power by 10 percent compared with last year, the drivers are finding passing slower traffic has become a more complicated proposition.
"The thing I've noticed this year, and we've already seen with the new regulations at Spa and the test here, is that it's more about keeping momentum up in the traffic," Davidson, who shares the #7 Peugeot with Alex Wurz and Marc Gene, said. "It's not just the LMP1s against the GTEs either, it's the LMP2s against GTE as well and everyone's got a tough time of it because we've all closed up on speed in straightline performance.
"It changes your judgment of where you can or can't overtake and I think we're all learning that together at the moment and now in a way it makes a little bit more ruthless for the drivers. The LMP1 cars come the race are going to maybe, as they were in Spa, making more desperate overtaking maneuvers under braking rather than just sailing past in the middle of two apexes in a corner.
"When you take away speed from the car or power from the car, the emphasis is more on momentum and it's like driving an underpowered car on the freeway he added. "When you pull out into the fast lane and a car just comes to overtake you, it's a do-or-die maneuver and anything but to lift off is your option. That's really the situation we're in today."
Davidson also suggested that because lapping cars had become more critical, more mistakes were likely to be made by the front runners in their quest not to lose time.
"It's very critical, and more mistakes will happen," he said. "More mistakes will happen and I've already seen just by following one of the Audis yesterday and another one of our teammates that we're definitely a bit more ruthless, even more ruthless than we were before, so mistakes will happen. But when they do, I think people will have to realize that it's harder than ever before and even though the LMP1s might seem a bit too aggressive, it's because of that reason so it's an interesting topic and we don't have the luxury of DRS. This is real racing."
Davidson added that he was confident of the Peugeot's race pace, even though Audi's Benoit Treluyer and Romain Dumas swept the front row.
Asked who he thought had the faster race pace, Audi or Peugeot, Davidson replied: "Gut feeling, I think we are quicker. It's easy to be biased because we're privy to all our information but based on Spa, based on my long runs on Wednesday, from what I saw from our competition's pace when I was on an old set of tires with high fuel on board at the start of my half stint at the end, I was pretty pleased with where we are.
"It's going to be close like I say, but I genuinely believe we have a car we can push 100 per cent for the entire race and that puts us in a strong position.
"We're comfortable being able to run the car at 100 percent optimum performance all the way through the race so that's a nice position to be in and I'm not entirely convinced that Audi can do that. I think they've got pretty good single-lap performance."