Porsche to reassert pace amid key departure
Porsche’s champion 919 Hybrid squad will implement a version of its Le Mans aerodynamic kit for the second round of the World Endurance Championship at Spa this weekend.
While the team inherited the opening round at Silverstone last month with the Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas machine, its #1 919 suffered a heavy crash while Brendon Hartley was attempting to pass a GTE Porsche.
Audi had been first across the line in the #7 R18 e-tron quattro for Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer however it failed a scrutineering check subsequently handing victory to Porsche.
The less-than-ideal start to the season by Porsche’s lofty standards was followed recently by the departure of the brains behind the 919, Wolfgang Hatz.
He previously held a position with Porsche parent, Volkswagen, as head of engine and transmissions which included Audi and then the VW Group.
Temporarily stood down from duties amid VW’s global emissions scandal, a Porsche statement announcing his voluntary departure says there has been no evidence to date that proved any co-responsibility on the part of Hatz.
Hatz’s exit comes as Porsche intends to implement versions of its Le Mans 24 Hour developed aero kit which underwent testing at Aragon last week.
“A car’s configuration for what is an over seven kilometre long up-and-downhill circuit is always a compromise between enough downforce for the fast corners and little drag on the long straights,” team principal Andreas Seidl said.
“At our endurance test in Aragon last week we were examining our Le Mans aero package for the first time, and will now use components of that in Spa.”
Webber re-affirmed that his 919 had the pace to win at Silverstone before the Hartley incident but there remains an element of uncertainty for Spa as he adopts a compromised aero set-up.
“We were in great shape in Silverstone, and we had the pace for victory,” Webber said of the car he also shares with Timo Bernhard.
“Spa will require a very different set-up for the car and we have to see how this goes compared to the opposition. Also, again, it will be a real mission to get the balance right in handling the traffic.”