‘Evo’ version of Porsche’s 919 Hybrid racer beats F1 car lap record at Spa – and without major mechanical upgrades
This is what happens when the rulebooks go out the window: Porsche’s 919 Hybrid Evo.
It’s the indirect result of Porsche pulling out of the LMP1 class of the World Endurance Championship and like Audi, joining Formula E.
Rather than immediately mothballing the car, the company has decided to unlock the 919’s full potential and see just how fast it can really go once unshackled from the WEC regulations.
The result is “very”: in a test session held on April 7-8, 2018, the 919 Hybrid Evo lapped the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in 1 minute 41.770 seconds, driven by WEC factory driver Neel Jani.
That’s faster than Lewis Hamilton’s pole-winning qualifying run in the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix – the previous lap record – by over 0.7 seconds, and 12 seconds faster than the 919’s fastest lap during last year’s WEC race at Spa.
Take that Lewis Hamilton! – Neel Jani beats F1 record by 0.7 seconds.
The 919 also reached a maximum speed of 359km/h, compared to just the 324km/h that the fastest F1 contender achieved. It’s a remarkable achievement, given the differences in weight, size, and aerodynamics between F1 and prototype sports cars.
So how did Porsche manage to claw out so much extra performance? Incredibly, by leaving most of the existing hardware in place.
The powertrain itself is completely unmodified, save for the removal of the WEC-mandated meter that controlled the amount of fuel flowing into the 2.0-litre V4 engine, as well as allowing the hybrid energy recovery systems to run at full capacity.
With their full potential unlocked, the engine’s output went from 500hp to 720hp, while the hybrid system’s output was boosted from 400hp to 440hp.
The aerodynamics on the other hand saw a lot more work. The front diffuser and rear wing – both with drag reduction systems – are significantly larger than before, and the underfloor has been worked on too.
In total the aero mods mean the 919 produces a huge 53 percent more downforce than last year’s Spa qualifying trim, which according to Porsche is more than what a Formula 1 car makes.
Elsewhere, the 919 has also been shorn of anything that doesn’t contribute to the singular of going fast.
So into the bin went the air-con, lights and wipers, some electronics and the pneumatic jack system, for a total weight saving of 39kg, bringing the car’s total weight to 850kg.
The 919 Hybrid Evo’s outing at Spa is just the first of several appearances on a ‘919 Tribute’ tour.
The car will also make appearances (and probably more lap record-smashing runs) at the Nuburgring 24 Hour race (May 12), Goodwood Festival of Speed (June 12-15), Festival of Porsche in Brands Hatch, UK (September 2), and Porsche Rennsport Reunion in Laguna Seca, California (September 26 – 29).