The fastest racing car on the planet, coming to Goodwood for the Festival of Speed this year, is, as we have already reported, not the Formula One machine you might have expected.
Everything you need to know about the Porsche 919 Evo
In a spectacular display of “what if…” thinking, Porsche has just shown that when let off the regulatory leash, its Le Mans-winning LMP1 Porsche 919 Hybrid can leave even the best F1 car in its wake…
The now-retired 919 in “Evo” form has just put in a lap at Spa 0.783 seconds quicker than Lewis Hamilton’s record-setter at the Belgian circuit in the Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid last year.
The fastest-ever driver around Spa is now Porsche works driver Neel Jani. He coached the 919 around in an amazing 1:41.770, hitting a max speed of almost 223mph (there’s no Mulsanne Straight at Spa…) and recording an average speed of just over 152mph.
Jani was an incredible 12 seconds quicker around Spa than Porsche’s WEC pole position time from last year. So what’s changed? The clue is in the name: Evo.
Although the car used is one of the championship-winning cars from Porsche’s last WEC year of 2017, with the same hybrid drivetrain, it has been let off the LMP1 leash. Porsche says the idea was to show what the car could do when it didn’t have to meet the fuel- and aero-restricting WEC regulations.
In Evo form, the 919 is more powerful, lighter and more aerodynamic. Now able to guzzle as much fuel as it likes – rather more than the 2.464 litres per lap of Spa it was restricted to under WEC rules – the 2.0-litre V4 puts out 720hp rather than 500. The car’s twin energy recovery systems – one harvesting energy from the front brakes, the other from the exhaust – are similarly de-restricted, for an output of 440hp, 10 per cent up.
Aerodynamic tweaks developed for Porsche’s aborted 2018 WEC challenge were incorporated, along with all the good stuff the engineers were probably itching to add all along but WEC scrutineers would never have allowed: bigger diffuser and bigger rear wing, both with active drag reduction systems, and fixed height side skirts. The result is the Evo boasts 53 per cent more downforce.
Other changes include newly developed Michelin rubber, a new brake-by-wire set-up, stronger wishbones and 39kg lighter weight. In time-honoured “less is more” Porsche fashion, they stripped out all the things – air-conditioning, windscreen wiper, pneumatic jack – that weren’t needed for a single fast lap.
Porsche LMP1 chief Fritz Enzinger added: “Today’s track record impressively proves the ultimate performance of the most innovative race car of its time.”
Certainly, the results are mighty impressive, even if the stunt does beg the question – just how fast could an F1 car go around Spa if it didn’t have to comply with F1 regs?
We will have a chance to see just how impressive the 919 Hybrid in Evo form is thanks to a “tribute” tour that includes taking on the Goodwood Hill on July 12-15 – what will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of this year’s Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard.
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