Porsche has earned a third consecutive Manufacturers’ World Championship title with the 919 Hybrid. A second- and third-place finish at the Shanghai 6-hour race on Sunday produced an early title decision at round eight of nine on the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC calendar. At the same time, Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) clinched the drivers’ title.
The Porsche 919 Hybrid has netted six world championships, three outright Le Mans wins, a total of 17 race wins including seven double victories, 19 pole positions and twelve fastest race laps from 33 races.
|Season 2017 Porsche LMP team. Click to enlarge.|
Three manufacturers’ world championship titles and three Le Mans victories for the Porsche 919 Hybrid are confirmation of our initial bold decision to attempt something totally new. Especially in regard to battery technology, downsizing, efficiency improvements with the turbocharged petrol engine and, in particular, for energy recovery systems. We didn’t look for role models, instead we struck out on our own path. Only by doing this could we create such a strong package, which has enabled us to make huge progress on the racetrack and in our technical development center.—Michael Steiner, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG
In 2014, Porsche unveiled a unique drive concept for its Le Mans Prototype—a compact, highly efficient two-litre, V4 turbocharged gasoline engine (500 hp/370 kW) supplemented by brake and exhaust gas energy recovery systems. At the press of a button, the two energy recovery systems mobilize a boost of an extra 400 hp (294 kW). While the normally aspirated power unit drives the rear axle, the high-performance electric motor gets to work at the front axle and transforms the Le Mans prototype into an all-wheel drive when exiting corners. (Earlier post.)
In its maiden 2014 season, the Porsche 919 Hybrid took two pole positions (Spa-Francorchamps/BE and São Paulo/BR) and its first victory at the six-hour finale (São Paulo/BR).
For the 2015 season, Porsche retained the drive system, but optimized every component of the 919. Neel Jani (CH) set a qualifying record for the current track layout of the Circuit des 24 Heures of Le Mans: 13.629 kilometers in 3:16.887 minutes, averaging 249.2 km/h. The first of three overall Le Mans victories for the 919 follow thanks to Earl Bamber (NZ), Formula 1 driver Nico Hülkenberg (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB). The trio shares the third 919 Hybrid that Porsche fields that year.
Porche’s most recent success up to then had been back in 1998. Porsche had not competed at the top echelon since 1999.
The points for the Le Mans winners don’t count towards the final classification. From the following six-hour races in Nürburgring (DE), Austin/Texas (USA), Fuji (JP) and Shanghai (CN), the trio Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) yielded four overall wins. On 1 November in Shanghai, Porsche celebrated its first Manufacturers’ World Championship title since 1986.
For 2016, many details of the 919 got a makeover, but not a totally new design. In China, Porsche scored its second Manufacturers’ World Championship title.
For the 2017 WEC season, the Porsche 919 Hybrid acquired modifications to its aerodynamics and suspension as well as other efficiency improvements for the power train. The driver lineup was reshuffled. Porsche focused on Le Mans: the season highlight not only provides maximum prestige, but also awards double the points.