Friday, 31 March 2017
After the presentation of Toyota's challenger this morning, Porsche took the honours in the afternoon to present its 2017 Porsche 919 Hybrid for the FIA World Endurance Championship. The 2017 model 919 Hybrid deploys a range of new innovations, particularly in the vehicle’s aerodynamics, the chassis and the combustion engine. 60 to 70 percent of the car has been newly developed.
With the revised technical regulations, the Porsche engineers designed two brand-new aerodynamics packages for the 919 Hybrid. In 2016, Porsche delivered three aerodynamics packages for the season, but the new regulations have also imposed limits on numbers. To achieve maximum top speeds on the extremely long straight sections, the package design focuses on minimising air resistance. The second aerodynamics package compensates for a higher level of drag with greater downforce for tracks with twists and turns. Track- specific fine-tuning is still permitted, but in general, 2017 will involve a higher level of compromise than was the case with the three aerodynamics packages of the previous year.
A key focus for the engineers was to design the front end of the vehicle to be less aerodynamically sensitive. When comparing a front view of this year’s 919 to the previous year’s model, the higher, wider and longer wheel arches immediately catch the eye. To the side, the new channel from the monocoque to the wheel arch is visible, along with the redesigned rear air intakes for the radiators. Porsche is expecting to see a three to four-second increase in lap times at Le Mans, following the new regulations.
Next to the aerodynamical changes, the efficiency and performance of the drivetrain also has been boosted by the Porsche engineers. The transmission on the front and rear axle, the combustion engine, the electric motor and the energy recovery systems have all been optimised, but the basic principle behind the drive system is unchanged. The rear axle of the 919 is driven by an extremely compact two-litre V4 combustion engine which delivers just under 500 hp (368 kW). Two different energy recovery systems – a braking energy recovery system on the front axle plus an exhaust energy recovery system – feed a lithium-ion battery, which in turn powers an electric motor capable of supplying additional power of over 400 hp (294 kW) to the front axle on demand. Combined the 919 Hybrid achieves a system power of more than 900 hp (662 kW).
The 919 will start again in the highest energy efficiency class prescribed by the regulations. This means that the car can use 8 megajoules of recovered energy over the 13.629-kilometre (8.4 mile) track in Le Mans, subject to the restriction that it may only consume a maximum of 4.31 litres of fuel to do so.
After three years, the Porsche LMP team lines up with two newly assembled driver trio's. Neel Jani is the leading driver in the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid. He will be joined by André Lotterer who's coming over from Audi and Nick Tandy. In the #2 car Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley will be joined by another Le Mans winner from 2015: Earl Bamber.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP, faces the season with a great deal of respect: “Each and every one of the nine endurance races presents a challenge. Reliability is the basic requirement; six hours of navigating around the many cars in the different categories, each driving at different speeds, makes each race unpredictable – and ultimately it is often only seconds that separate the winner from the rest of the field. At four times the duration of the other races, Le Mans forms the pinnacle of the series. This 24-hour race pushes both men and machine to their absolute limits. Toyota is set to be a very strong contender in the top-tier LMP1 category for the 2017 season. We will face up to them with a meticulously enhanced Porsche 919 Hybrid and a team of six first-class drivers.”
Team Principal Andreas Seidl, who continues to serve as acting technical director, reports: “For the 2017 season, 60 to 70 per cent of the vehicle is newly developed. The basic concept of the 919 Hybrid still offers scope to optimise the finer details and further boost efficiency. The monocoque has remained unchanged since 2016, but the optimisation potential of all other components was analysed and, in most cases, adjustments made accordingly.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing presented its TS050 Hybrid this morning, ahead of the FIA WEC Prologue in Monza over the weekend.
Following the dramatic outcome of last years Le Mans race, Toyota now has a clear target to earn its first Le Mans victory. That requires a combined effort at its technical centres in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne, with upgrades in every area of the TS050 HYBRID.
The 2017 car features a 2.4litre V6 turbo-charged petrol engine combined with an 8 MJ hybrid system. A new, further developed engine and an optimised hybrid system now give the car an estimated maximum power of 735 kW/1000 hp.
New regulations for 2017 target a reduction in aerodynamic efficiency for safety reasons and to increase the Le Mans laptimes. This is achieved by rasing the front splitter by 15 mm and a rear diffuser that's been narrowed down. On the Toyota, the major differences on the body work are a raised nose and sharp undercut to the sidepods. The most noticeable modifications on the body work are a raised nose and sharp undercut to the sidepods. As from this season, only 2 aero configurations are allowed. The one that will be used at Monza is the low downforce configuration for Le Mans. Toyota has also worked closely with Michelin in developing new tyre compounds and constructions for the new season, as tyre usage also has been restricted from now on.
Earlier this week, the Japenese team confirmed its full driver line-up for the 2017 season, with Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre joining Stéphane Sarrazin in a third car at Francorchamps and Le Mans. For Lapierre its a return to the team he left in 2015 after scoring its first victories in the FIA WEC. Since then, Lapierre has been one of the leading LMP2 drivers, twice winning the class at Le Mans, the FIA WEC championship and several races in ELMS. Yuji Kumimoto has been racing in the Japenese Super GT championship for eight seasons and won the Super Formula championship last year.
The crews of the 2 cars which will compete in the full FIA WEC season were already confirmed in February. José Maria Lopez is a new face in the #7 car which he will share with regulars Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi. The driver line-up of the #8 car is unchanged with Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.
Toshio Sato, Team President
"The whole team is motivated and determined for this season. We want to win, there is no doubt about that, but we know it will be a tough fight with Porsche. The team in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne has worked incredibly hard to update the TS050 HYBRID and the first indications are encouraging. Having a third car is an additional opportunity and we will do our best to again deliver a great spectacle for the fans at Le Mans. We know from painful experience that Le Mans is a very difficult race to win, but that is our target. Everything - the car, the team and the drivers - has to work perfectly to achieve our goal. We will see in June if we have done enough."
Histake Murata, Racing Hybrid Project Leader
"Although the TS050 HYBRID shares the same name as the 2016 car, its performance has been greatly improved by reviewing the powertrain and enhancing efficiency in all areas. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's biggest goal for this year, as always, is winning Le Mans. The team in Higashi-Fuji has worked ceaselessly since Le Mans last year to develop a powertrain which will deliver performance over one lap and over a full race distance, enabling us to compete at the front. This has resulted in a new engine, plus modifications to the motor generator units and battery. The first results are very encouraging but we will continue to fine-tune so we are ready."
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director
"Our 2017 TS050 HYBRID represents a significant update; the only item which is not changed is the monocoque. At several races last year we showed the potential of our car with strong performances. But to achieve our targets we need more, so as well as big aerodynamic changes, we have optimised each area for performance and weight. What happened at Le Mans last year was painful so we gave extra attention to quality management. Zero risk doesn't exist so we operate according to a given level of risk, which this year we have reduced. Pre-season testing has gone well in terms of performance and reliability so we feel positive but we also know we face a tough competitor."