The two Porsche 919 Hybrids will start from the first and second rows of the grid for the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Mexico City. The current championship leaders, Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE), will start the six-hour race from second on the grid. The reigning world champions, Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU), qualified in fourth. Audi took pole position. The six-hour race at the Mexican Formula One circuit will start on Saturday at 13:30 hrs local time (20:30 CEST). After qualifying was held in warm and dry conditions, the weather forecast for the race is still uncertain.
In the WEC the average of the respective best laps of two drivers counts for the grid position. In Mexico City Jani/Lieb (car number 2, position 2, 1:25.111 minutes) and Hartley/Webber (car number 1, position 4, 1:25.400 minutes) were the qualifying drivers.
In the third free practice session, again on a dry track, Brendon Hartley topped the time sheets with a lap of 1:25.387 minutes. The sister car came fourth with Neel Jani putting in the fastest lap time of 1:25.847 minutes.
Quotes after qualifying:
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “At our maiden event in Mexico we have seen an extremely thrilling qualifying. The lap times of the four fastest LMP1 cars are within three tenths of a second, and we are just 0.042 seconds off the pole time. This is competition at the very highest level. We are absolutely fine with the result and I’m sure the spectators can expect an exciting race.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “That was close! What a tight battle it was between us and the Audis – congratulations on pole position. We have our cars on the first two rows of the grid and, therefore, are in a good position for the race. After the job we have done here over the last two days, we are convinced we have a good car for tomorrow and we are looking forward to an exciting round of the championship. Managing traffic in the narrow sections of the circuit will be key.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 1
Brendon Hartley (26, New Zealand): “We split the tyre strategy between our two cars and this, for sure, was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, I had to back off from my quick lap in the last sector because of traffic, until then it looked promising. After that we had a red flag. I went again, but then made a mistake. However, we are definitely confident for tomorrow’s race.”
Mark Webber (40, Australia): “The team did a great job overnight to improve our car. Everybody did their best, but for us the session wasn’t ideal. Congratulations to Audi for a strong performance. As always for our six-hour races, pole position is only one percent of the game. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 2
Neel Jani (32, Switzerland): “We have tried many things today. At the end of the session I went out again, but this time on used tyres and with this set it wasn’t possible to improve. We have seen again that even the smallest mistake matters. However, we are facing a long race.”
Marc Lieb (36, Ludwigsburg): “Qualifying wasn’t easy today, as the car keeps behaving slightly differently in various conditions. It was very close and then the smallest details make a difference. However, I’m quite happy with the lap I did. We are only four hundredths of a second short of pole position – it goes without saying that this time would also have been possible with our car.”