No, the news is the first confirmation we've seen on the type of powertrain Porsche has developed for its new Le Mans prototype: a gasoline-burning four-cylinder engine with direct injection and two energy recovery systems. This contrasts sharply with the V6 turbodiesel and single electric motor used by Audi in the R18 e-tron Quattro (or at least the outgoing version) or the naturally-aspirated V8 and single electric motor found in the Toyota TS030. Flexibility in the rules set down by the FIA and ACO give the manufacturers that kind of latitude, prompting F1 teams like Ferrari and Renault to consider developing their new engines for Le Mans prototypes as well.
At this point Porsche isn't saying how large its four-cylinder engine is or how much power it will produce. But it'll be interesting, to say the least, to see how it fares against the Audi and Toyota in next year's championship and at Le Mans when it'll be piloted by Webber, former Lola LMP1 driver Neel Jani and Audi's own 2011 Le Mans-winning pair of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard.
Stuttgart. Porsche has concluded its 2013 test programme with the new LMP1 race car. The Porsche LMP1 completed its final test laps of the year on the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve near Portimão, Portugal. Testing will resume in early 2014. Porsche AG will field two LMP1 race cars in the sports car World Endurance Championship (WEC) which starts in April 2014, with the Le Mans 24 Hours as the highlight of the season.
The WEC regulations stipulate that manufacturers run hybrid vehicles in the highest class for Le Mans Prototypes (LMP1). In developing the all-new LMP1 race car featuring a very efficient, high-performance hybrid drive, Porsche's engineers are faced with major challenges that can only be solved using innovative solutions. Therefore, the race car features a hybrid system that consists of a four-cylinder petrol engine with direct injection and two energy recuperation systems. The recovered energy is stored in a battery until retrieved by the driver. A powerful electric motor then provides additional drive to the front axle. However, the WEC rules limit the amount of fuel as well as the electrical energy, or so-called boost, available to the driver per lap. The development of such a highly-efficient drive will have positive influences on production development at Porsche.
On the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, Mark Webber (37) got his first chance to climb aboard the Porsche LMP1 racer. The Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team gave the Australian the green light to conduct these initial tests, despite Webber still being under contract. From 1 January 2014, Mark Webber officially joins the Porsche factory team as a works driver and reinforces the already-signed driver line-up of Timo Bernhard (32), Romain Dumas (35) and Neel Jani (30). Mark Webber commented in Portimão: "My first day in this fascinating project was an intense experience for me. I would like to thank Red Bull Racing for giving me the chance to join the project so early. This is a major and important step for us all. It allows me to integrate with the team quicker and to contribute to further developing the LMP1 race car. We have a long way to go and it involves a lot of hard work. I have no misconceptions about this." Head of Porsche LMP1 Fritz Enzinger also appreciated the goodwill shown by the Austrian F1 team: "I'm delighted to have Mark in the team so early. Red Bull Racing has helped us considerably in allowing this!"
On the schedule of the final test for 2013 in Portugal were primarily suspension and tyre tests with partner Michelin. Previously, the Porsche LMP1 squad had pressed ahead with the development of the new race car on the Magny-Cours (France), Monza (Italy) and Paul Ricard (France) circuits, as well as on the Eurospeedway Lausitz (Germany). Enzinger stated: "Between the roll-out of the completely new car in June and now we have made significant progress. Every single kilometre was important, providing us with new data that brought the development forward. The whole team has worked extremely hard and I would like to express my sincere thanks for this. Our efforts will continue unabated in 2014. Until the start of the season at Silverstone mid-April there is still a lot to do."
Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG, added, "We always knew it wasn't going to be easy to return to top endurance racing after 16 years. Hence, our efforts in developing a competitive Porsche LMP1 race car are immense. Up to this point, our engineers in Weissach, the drivers, and the entire team have performed impressively. We are finding new approaches in the development, implementation and application of leading edge efficiency technologies. This also leads to further improvements of the entire hybrid technology in our production cars. Ultimately, our customers will benefit the most."
To follow the preparations of the LMP1 team in the lead up to tackling the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, visit: www.porsche.com/mission2014. Many exciting images, films, background information and a multimedia journey through Porsche's racing history await visitors on the homepage.