The championship reaches its final stages and the pressure increases: The eighth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), November 3 to 5 in Shanghai, will be the penultimate race for the Porsche LMP Team and the Porsche 919 Hybrids. But there’s no room for sentiment yet: On the Chinese Formula One circuit, the team from Weissach has to defend the championship titles for drivers and manufacturers.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “After three consecutive Le Mans overall wins we also want to get both world championship titles for the third time after 2015 and 2016. This would be the crown of our LMP1 programme and this is what we are aiming for. At the most recent six-hour race in Japan, we had our first match point but we didn’t succeed. Instead we lost ground to our competitor Toyota. In Shanghai we’ve got our next chance. To stay fully focussed remains our top priority.”
The championship leading Porsche drivers Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) have scored 172 championship points while the best placed Toyota drivers have 133 points. If this Toyota takes maximum points in China – a race win from pole position is rewarded with 26 points – Bamber/Bernhard/Hartley need to finish the race in at least third position for them to clinch the drivers’ world championship title. The trio of the second Porsche 919 Hybrid, reigning world champion Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB), currently rank fourth with a score of 98 points. In the manufacturers’ standings, Porsche leads with 270 points ahead of Toyota on 211.5 points. To secure the manufacturers’ title, Porsche would need to have no less than a 44 points advantage after six hours of racing.
The race in China will start on Sunday at 11:00 hrs local time (04:00 CET) and will be broadcast worldwide on the internet and television.
The Porsche 919 Hybrid
The class 1 Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) develops a system power of around 900 HP (662 kW) that comes from a compact two-litre turbo charged V4-cylinder (nearly 500 HP/368 kW) engine and two different energy recovery systems – brake energy from the front axle combined with exhaust energy. The combustion engine drives the rear axle while the electro motor boosts the front axle with an output of more than 400 HP (294 kW). The electrical energy that comes from the front brakes and the exhaust system is temporarily stored in a liquid-cooled lithium ion battery.
The Porsche LMP Team before the race in Japan
Team Principal Andreas Seidl: “We assume the Shanghai International Circuit’s qualities tend so suit our Porsche 919 Hybrid better than the Fuji Speedway. Our aerodynamics should perform well on the five-and-a-half kilometre long Grand Prix track. We will prepare for all sorts of eventualities. We will train extra hard and once more cover off all the scenarios. Our team can deal with pressure, this was also the case in stressful conditions in Japan. At the same time we have experienced there how quickly and surprisingly a six-hour race can turn around. In China every single member of the crew will give everything.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 1:
Neel Jani (33, Switzerland): “With the penultimate race, the farewell of the 919 Hybrid comes closer and we still have to battle for both titles. In recent years, we have been good in Shanghai, capturing the manufacturers’ title there in 2015 as well as in 2016. Our new aero package should be well-suited. What I also recall as well is that the Shanghai circuit produces lots of marbles. If you leave the clean line for overtaking, it is easy to ruin your soft race tyres’ grip with pick-up on them.”
André Lotterer (35, Germany): “Shanghai is not far from my Tokyo home, so this is quite an easy trip for me. But to be honest, the circuit is not one of my favourites because the lay-out has a lot of radiuses that feel unnatural to me. At the same time, because of this, it is very technical and challenging to drive. Car set-up and handling of tyre wear is not easy. We definitely don’t face an easy race and one which is obviously very important for us.”
Nick Tandy (32, Great Britain): “My only visit to Shanghai so far was in 2015. It is a challenging and quite a fast track. It demands a lot out of the car. We will again take a high downforce configuration to the track. It is a high grip surface so it should be a great challenge in the 919. I particularly look forward to the first part of the lap with turns one and two. This section is like a very long deceleration zone and quite challenging. The fast middle sector is really fun.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 2
Earl Bamber (27, New Zealand): “To me Shanghai is a very good place to race and close to my home town of Kuala Lumpur as well. I have raced many times in Shanghai. Good memories are closely connected to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia that will be the support race for the WEC. This is where I started my Porsche career. Winning the championship in 2013 and 2014 helped to get me promoted as a works driver and soon after to LMP1. The Cup is family to me. My 23-year old brother Will is currently doing well in the championship and it will be nice to see him racing. Also this season I have been coaching six junior drivers and it will be good to take them to the LMP1 team and show them what we do. However, for us in Shanghai, the most important thing is to perform a good race and work on the championship title.”
Timo Bernhard (36, Germany): “I’ve always enjoyed the Shanghai circuit because of its various elements; for instance the long back straight and the middle sector with its high demands on driving technique. Also the track suits our Porsche 919 Hybrid. In 2015 and 2016 respectively we won there and took the title for Porsche. These are great memories and now we want to put in another good performance there.”
Brendon Hartley (27, New Zealand): “It’s a busy time for me at the moment and I feel really good and excited. The most important thing is to focus on the very next target. In Shanghai, together with Earl and Timo, we definitely want to secure the drivers’ world championship title with our Porsche 919 Hybrid. The most recent six-hour race in Fuji didn’t bring the results we were aiming for. Shanghai is a circuit that should suit our car and we have to have everything lined up there perfectly.”
Schedule (local time):
Friday, November 3 2017
11:00-12:30 hrs 1st free practice
15:30-17:00 hrs 2nd free practice
Saturday, November 4 2017
10:00-11:00 hrs 3rd free practice
14:30-14:50 hrs Qualifying LMP1 & LMP2
Sunday, November 5 2017
11:00-17:00 hrs Race
Facts and figures:
– The WEC efficiency regulations limit the amount of energy that can be used per lap. On the 5.45 kilometres long lap of the Shanghai International Circuit, the Porsche 919 Hybrid can use 4.96 megajoule of electrical power from energy recovery systems and 1.391 kg/1.921 litres of petrol.
– At normal race speed, the 919 Hybrid is due for refuelling after 31 laps.
– Refuelling and changing tyres may only be done sequentially, not at the same time. Only four mechanics may work simultaneously when changing tyres and also may use only one wheel gun at a time. That takes a lot longer than in F1, for example.
– The drivers are normally only changed when new tyres are needed.
– These different types of tyres can be used: three different compounds of slick tyres for dry conditions, a hybrid tyre (no profile either but softer cover) for mixed conditions and wet weather tyres. Four sets of dry weather tyres are available per car for qualifying and the race, this is two sets less than in 2016.
– A lap of the Shanghai International Circuit, used for Formula One Grands Prix since 2004, has 16 corners – nine right-handers and seven left-handers – of which the well known “snail corner” at the beginning of each lap counts as a double right-hander. From a bird’s eye view the track’s layout is reminiscent of the Chinese characters of “shàng” that translates into “upward” or “up” and also is part of the city name of Shanghai.
– The circuit is located about 40 kilometres outside the city centre.
– In 2016 Porsche could celebrate its sixth race win of that season and the successfully defence of the manufacturers’ title. Bernhard, Hartley and Mark Webber (AU) won the race from pole position (average pole time was 1:44.462 minutes). The trio that was back then sharing the second Porsche 919 Hybrid, Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani and Marc Lieb (DE) qualified sixth and finished fourth. Hartley recorded the fastest race lap with a time of 1:45.935 minutes. The race was held in consistently dry conditions with ambient temperatures of around 23 degrees Celsius.