Porsche may not have an F1 program anymore, but it can still compete. Porsche’s 919 Evo has broken the lap record around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium set by Lewis Hamilton in an F1 car in 2017.
For a few glorious years, the “P1” prototype class in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) was the coolest thing in racing. Porsche pulled out at the end of 2017 after winning almost everything there was to win with its 919 Hybrid. But before the company puts the cars into the museum, it has some unfinished business, proving just how fast the 919 Hybrid really is.
Porsche is taking the 919 Hybrid on tour, but the plan is to do more than just show it off to the fans—it’s going for records. The first of these has already fallen. On Sunday, April 9, Neel Jani set a new track record at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, home to that country’s annual F1 race. Jani lapped the 4.4-mile (7km) track in 1 minute 41.770 seconds, 0.783 seconds faster than the previous lap record, set in F1 qualifying by Lewis Hamilton in 2017.
The 919 Evo is faster than the fastest 2017 F1 Car.
The powertrain of the car—now called the 919 Evo—was mechanically the same as raced in 2017. It’s a 2.0L turbocharged gasoline V4 engine driving the rear wheels, coupled to a motor-generator unit (MGU) at the front axle and a second energy recovery unit that harvested electricity from the exhaust. Both energy recovery systems charged a lithium-ion battery, and that energy was used by the MGU to drive the front wheels.
Now that the 919 Evo isn’t racing, Porsche doesn’t have to abide by any of the restrictions stipulated by technical regulations, such as fuel-flow and limits to the electrical energy. It’s still running the same race fuel, but new engine management software has bumped power on the internal combustion engine from 500hp (373kW) to 720hp (537kW). And with 8.48MJ now coming out of the battery, the hybrid system is 10-percent stronger at 440hp (328kW).
The 919 Evo has a combined 1160hp.
Porsche’s aerodynamicists have also been given a free hand. There’s a new front diffuser and a much bigger rear wing. And both are active, which means they can change profile to minimize drag on the straights and maximize downforce in the turns (two tweaks that are good for lap time). Porsche says the 919 Evo has 53-percent more downforce and is 66-percent more aerodynamically efficient compared to the bodywork it used in the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in 2017.
Other changes to the 919 Evo included stronger suspension wishbones and new power steering to cope with the higher cornering loads, a new brake-by-wire system that added some more yaw control, 86lbs (39kg) of weight reduction (total overall weight: 1,871lbs or 849kg), and new tire compounds courtesy of Michelin that maximized grip.
If you want one last chance to see the 919 drive in anger, Porsche will be bringing it to the Nürburgring (including a demo lap on the fearsome Nordschleife) on May 12, then the Goodwood Festival of Speed (July 12 to 15) and the Festival of Porsche at Brands Hatch (September 2), both in the UK. The final outing will be at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca in California (September 27 to 30).