Porsche 919 Hybrid is continuing successful Le Mans story
Porsche 919 Hybrid is a sports-prototype race car, built according to FIA rules for LMP1-H prototypes, which brought two Le Mans 24h victories and two FIA World Endurance Championship titles to German manufacturer in recent years. The car had a competitive debut in the 2014 FIA WEC season. It scored Le Mans wins in 2015 and 2016 and it also earned manufacturers’ titles for Porsche Team.
Porsche’s return to sports prototype racing after sixteen years
Porsche is undoubtedly the most successful factory team in the history of Le Mans, with a staggering 16 overall wins between 1970 and 1998. After that amazing success, the period of Audi’s dominance followed, starting from 2000. In 2012, Audi scored its eleventh victory at Le Mans. The same year, Porsche announced its return to the sports-prototype racing. The goal was to stop Audi’s dominance and to continue winning streak with a 17th victory at Circuit de la Sarthe.
During 2013, Porsche was developing a brand new hybrid prototype to challenge a premium LMP1 class, in which only Audi and Toyota had the hybrid cars. Audi was competing with R18 e-tron quattro, which features 3.7-litre V6 turbodiesel engine plus hybrid system. On the other side, Toyota TS 030 Hybrid was using 3.4-litre V8 normally aspirated petrol engine.
Completely different engine for 919 Hybrid
Unlike its rivals, Porsche decided to use radically different layout, the 2-litre V4 turbocharged gasoline engine with direct injection and two energy recuperation systems. The name of the car, 919 Hybrid, was chosen as a reference to the successful Porsche 917 race car of the 1970s and the Porsche 918 street car that was introduced in 2013.
The first version of the 919 Hybrid was using a Lithium-ion battery hybrid system and can store up to 6 MJ of energy (1.7 kWh) per lap of Le Mans. The car also featured an exhaust energy recovery system that runs through a turbine in the exhaust.
900 horse powers in the 875 kg car
The combustion engine exported about 500 hp to the rear axle. The Engine Generator Unit adds about 400 hp which goes to the front axle via KERS. So, the total power was about 900 hp, which brings a sensational power-to-weight ratio because 919 Hybrid has the minimum weight of 875 kg. The car needs just 2.2 seconds from zero to 60 mph.
919 Hybrid challenged new rivals from Audi and Toyota
The 4650 mm long car had a composite fiber construction made of carbon fibers with a honeycomb aluminum core. The width of the car is 1900 mm, the height is 1050 mm. It features front and rear multi-link pushrod independent wheel suspension with adjustable shock absorbers. For braking, the 919 Hybrid was using hydraulic dual-circuit brake system, light-alloy monobloc brake calipers, internally ventilated carbon fiber rear and front brake discs. The tires are the same on the front and rear, the Michelin’s 310/710-18.
While Porsche was developing 919 Hybrid, Audi scored its 12th Le Mans victory in 2013. For the 2014 FIA WEC season, both Audi and Toyota introduced new versions of their prototypes. Audi started using bigger 4.0-liter V8 diesel engine, Toyota also increased an engine capacity to 3.7-litres.
Podium in the first race for 919 Hybrid
Porsche Team made its competitive debut in the first round of the 2014 World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Silverstone, with two 919 Hybrids on the grid. The #20 car, driven by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber, finished third behind two Toyotas. The #14 entry, driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb, was forced to retire.
Hard-learning debut season
At the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, both cars had problems with a broken anti-roll bar and both crews were forced to pit. The #14 car returned to the circuit to complete a ceremonial lap at the end of the race and was classified eleventh overall. The #20 car stayed in the pits but it wasn’t classified in the official standings.
Audi has won Le Mans race for the 13th time. At the end of the season, Toyota took manufacturers’ championship title. For the Porsche Team, the season ended with only one victory, in the last race at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo.
Six wins in the 2015 FIA WEC, including Le Mans 24h
Everything changed in the 2015 FIA WEC season, with six victories for Porsche 919 Hybrid in eight races. Bernhard, Hartley and Webber scored four wins and two more podiums with #17 car, dominantly taking the championship title. The other crew, in the #18 car, scored one victory, at Bahrain.
The highlight of the season was Porsche’s historic victory at Le Mans 24-hour race. The winners in the #19 car were Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber. Porsche’s drivers were back on the top podium spot after 17 years and they scored the 17th victory.
In 2016, Porsche again took everything
A year later, Porsche Team repeated the success, at Le Mans and in the championship, with six wins in nine races. This time, Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb were the championship-winning crew in the drivers’ standings, but also at 24 hours of Le Mans. They scored a victory at Circuit de la Sarthe with #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid after a dramatical retirement of a leading #5 Toyota in the very last lap.
Bernhard, Hartley and Webber scored four wins again but because they had bad results in first three races, they were just fourth in the final classification. During the season, Mark Webber announced that this would be his last season in the professional racing career.
New drivers line-up for 919 Hybrid’s fourth season
The Porsche Team changed line-ups in two Porsche 919 Hybrids for the 2017 FIA WEC season. The #1 car will be driven by Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy. The #2 car will be driven by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber.