Porsche has pulled the wraps off the updated Porsche 919 Hybrid Le Mans prototype, which it hopes will secure hat trick wins in both the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship driver and manufacturer titles and the 2017 Le Mans 24-hour race.
The 2017 model of the Porsche 919 Hybrid introduces a range of new innovations, particularly in the vehicle’s aerodynamics, the chassis and the combustion engine.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl adds, “For the 2017 season, 60 to 70 percent 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.”
The technical regulations for the 2017 FIA WEC World Endurance Championship introduce further limitations in terms of the dimensions of body components that affect aerodynamics.
In an effort to increase safety, the new measurements reduce the downforce of the LMP1 prototypes, which in turn lowers the vehicle’s cornering speed for safety reasons.
Based on the new specifications and developmental findings, Porsche engineers devised two brand-new aerodynamics packages for the 919 Hybrid. 2017 regulations allow a maximum of two aero packages per car.
One of the new aerodynamics packages is specifically designed for high-speed and focuses on minimising air resistance, while the second package compensates for a higher level of drag with greater downforce for twisty, technical tracks.
The 2017 919 Hybrid features higher, wider and longer wheel arches, a new channel from the monocoque to the wheel arch on the side, along with the redesigned rear air intakes for the radiators.
Alongside the mechanical enhancements, a number of software updates in terms of traction control and hybrid power management have helped to further improve the driving quality of the 919. LMP1 cars have three fewer sets of tyres in 2017, now required to last around double the driving time, the software updates are claimed to have a positive effect on the service life of the tyres, Porsche are even aiming for tyres to run quadruple stints in night time driving when track temperatures are cooler.
The basic principle behind the drive system is unchanged, but Porsche engineers have boosted the performance of the drivetrain – the transmission on the front and rear axle, the combustion engine, the electric motor and the energy recovery systems have all been optimised.
The compact turbocharged 2.0-litre V4 engine produces just under 500hp works in tandem with an electric motor on the front axle producing over 400hp. The 919 utilises a brake energy recovery system on the front axle plus an exhaust energy recovery system (which uses small turbine within the exhaust tract acting as a generator) to recharge the lithium-ion battery. The 919 Hybrid is the only prototype to recover energy during acceleration as well as braking. Combined power output is rated at more than 900hp.
This year, the number “1” 919 Hybrid will be piloted by Neel Jani (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Germany) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain), while the team’s number “2” car will be shared between 2015 World Champion Timo Bernhard (Germany) and two New Zealanders, Earl Bamber (26) and Brendon Hartley (27).