The newly formed Porsche Team with the two Porsche 919 Hybrid Le Mans Prototypes had a good first day of practice at the Silverstone Circuit, where the first round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) is taking place as a six-hour race on Sunday, the first of eight world championship rounds. Track conditions were ideal, sunny and dry with ambient temperatures between ten and 15 degrees. The Porsche Team completed a total of exactly 150 laps on the first day of the event, which is 883.65 kilometres.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl said: “Both sessions went fine, on both the technical side as well as in terms of operational procedures. This was an important experience for the team on this very special weekend, which marks Porsche’s return to the highest class of the sports car World Endurance Championship. With both cars we were able to complete our programme as planned, which focused on race preparation and tyre evaluation.”
The first two free practice sessions:
For the first free practice session Neel Jani and Marc Lieb shared driving duties at the wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid no. 14. Neel focussed on set-up work, Marc did the tyre comparison and clocked the overall fastest lap of the session (1min 44.042sec) on a fresh set of rubber.
The Porsche 919 Hybrid no. 20 was in the hands of Timo Bernhard for the first half of the morning session. After he had worked on the baseline set-up, he handed the car over to Brendon Hartley. Car no. 20 was sixth fastest overall (1min 45.157sec).
In the afternoon session Marc Lieb (car no.14) and Brendon Hartley (car no. 20) did a 25-lap long run each before handing over to teammates Romain Dumas and Mark Webber respectively for further long runs.
Porsche 919 Hybrid #14
Romain Dumas: “We have had a good Friday with both cars running smoothly, which obviously is a good sign. We have been testing several set-up options and will now have a look at what lessons we have learnt. For sure we still have room for improvement, but that’s normal. With the new Porsche 919 Hybrid we are in Silverstone for the first time, and we are almost starting from scratch while our competitors have a great deal of experience. We will continue step by step.”
Neel Jani: “I saw myself in P1 after only two laps, which was quite an enjoyable way to start. Obviously it doesn’t mean a lot in free practice, but nevertheless it was an enjoyable feeling. I have been concentrating on set-up work. We have made progress but, of course, there is still room for improvement.”
Marc Lieb: “We have had a very good and mostly trouble free first session. We were able to complete our entire programme in terms of set-up work and evalution of the Michelin race tyres. Everything went smoothly, so I am very happy. Also the long-run in the second session was good, as well as for me personally as it was a good exercise to manage traffic from a new perspective. In the GT car I was used to being the one who was overtaken, but now it is the other way round.“
Porsche 919 Hybrid #20
Timo Bernhard: “The first free practice session in the morning was very useful to get back into a rhythm. We have focussed very much on the car’s set-up and got a first impression of what to expect here in Silverstone. Nevertheless, so far it is difficult to judge from the lap times. There is still some work to do on the set-up as the car tends to understeer.“
Brendon Hartley: “It felt so good to get into the car for an official session after all the test and development work. We have had only a few minor issues but nothing major. It was a good start. Also we got a feel for the traffic, which was pretty interesting and occasionally a bit crazy. For me Silverstone is a home race as I can sleep in my own bed every night, which is a very nice bonus on top of everything else.”
Mark Webber: “Operationally it was a very rewarding day for the guys with two smooth sessions with both cars, which is very important for us at this early stage. With every lap we do we’re learning a lot. We’ve got some performance to find, but we know what we need to work on. The team did a great job in getting a lot of the boxes ticked in terms of reliability and some other things we were a bit concerned about getting right today. I always love driving here at Silverstone, it’s a beautiful track and it’s great to be back here again with a roof over my head for the first time since 1998. I am used to having better visibility in the F1 car, so that was something to get used to as with the closed cockpit the visibility is a bit more restricted. I have already got a little bit of that endurance feeling, with a lot of different little things which I have clocked in my memory. I’m still a bit of a rookie to be honest, but I’m really enjoying it.“
Good first practice sessions for the Porsche 911 RSR
The first and second free practice sessions on the Silverstone Circuit marked the start of the season-opening countdown for the Porsche Team Manthey at the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC on Sunday. In the first session, Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) posted the fastest time in the GTE-Pro class with the #91 Porsche 911 RSR. The top time in the second session went to their factory driver colleagues Marco Holzer (Germany), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) in the number 92 Porsche 911 RSR.
In the GTE-Am class, Porsche junior Klaus Bachler (Austria) set the quickest time in session two at the wheel of customer team Proton Competition’s 911 RSR. His teammates are Christian Ried (Germany) and Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi).
Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport: “Today we focused on the tyre varieties that are available to us, plus the usual set-up work. There were no significant problems. It looks good for the qualifying and the race. All the prerequisites for an exciting season-opener are there.”
Patrick Pilet (#91): “The main priority with the new tyres in the first practice session was that each driver had the chance to turn some laps and get used to the circuit. Already then you could see that the basic configuration of our 911 RSR is very good, possibly even the best that we’ve ever had on the track. In the second session we worked on the set-up and tried to find out how the tyres changed over the course of a stint. Having a consistently fast car is the key to success in Silverstone.”
Joerg Bergmeister (#91): “In the first practice we went out on a new set of tyres and accordingly the result was good. Later I stayed out on the track for more than an hour to observe tyre wear. We learned a great deal from this.”
Nick Tandy (#91): “I’m looking forward to supporting Patrick and Joerg, particularly here in Silverstone. We had good sessions today and we were able to work through our programme without any problems.”
Marco Holzer (#92): “I haven’t driven in Silverstone for a long time. I needed the first laps to familiarise myself with the circuit and then everything ran better. We were able to complete the full programme today that we had set ourselves. Primarily, it was not about turning fast laps. At a six-hour race it’s important to maintain a consistent speed over the race distance. Today we were right up there but that doesn’t really say a lot. Only in qualifying are all the cards laid on the table.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (#92): “That was my first official practice session with the 911 RSR and I must say that the Porsche engineers have done some really terrific work over the winter. Our overall car and tyre package is very good. Of course you always find little things that you can improve on, that’s what free practice is for, but the basis is already very good.”
Richard Lietz (#92): “I did a lot of driving today. Our car needs a bit of fine-tuning but it was very consistent in the dry today. And in the rain the 911 is good anyway. I’m feeling quite confident for the race.“