Porsche alllowed its 919 Hybrid free rein at Spa. And…
If you ever had any doubts about just how trick the current breed of hybrid LMP1 machinery is, then look at what Porsche has done with its 919 Hybrid. An upgraded version of the car, dubbed the ‘Evo’, has lapped Spa quicker than Lewis Hamilton’s 2017 pole position time for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Porsche undertook the stunt as part of a farewell tour for the car that won three World Endurance Championship titles and three Le Mans 24 Hours before its career ended with the climax of last season. The car was unshackled of the limits on fuel flow and hybrid boost, essential tenets of the P1 regulations, and modified with active aerodynamics and a four-wheel brake-by-wire system to see what the car could really do.
A 1min 41.711sec around the 4.35-mile Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was what it did in the hands of 2016 WEC champion Neel Jani. That’s a full 12sec quicker than his best qualifying lap at Spa in 2017 and 0.8sec faster than Hamilton managed in his Mercedes W07 Formula 1 car a few months later.
And along the way the car, with 720bhp from its V4 turbo and a 440bhp boost from its electric motor, it hit a top speed of 223mph. Back in May last year, the best Porsche straightline speed figures were some way short of 200mph.
“Brutally impressive” was how Jani described the car. “It’s definitely the fastest car I’ve driven. The grip level is at a fully new dimension for me.”