Tag Archives: WEC

Formula One: Porsche Red Bull Racing? 2+2 = 5

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The eagle-eyed F1 Fan will have noticed a few interesting faces in and around the F1 paddock over the weekend of the Austrian Grand Prix. After attending a recent meeting to discuss the future of F1 Power Units a number of Porsche ambassadors made their presence known through the event. As a pundit for Channel 4’s F1 coverage, seeing Mark Webber in the paddock is not an unusual sight. Less usual though was his choice of attire, as pictured below Mark spent much of the weekend wearing Porsche team wear. Similarly, Mark’s former teammate and former Red Bull Junior driver Brendon Hartley attended the Grand Prix and he too wore Porsche team wear combined with a Red Bull cap for much of the weekend.

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Of course a logical explanation for this is that both drivers were taking part in demonstration runs through the race weekend, but a far more exciting ‘hollywood’ story is that fresh from having achieved their objectives in the World Endurance Championship securing 3 back to back victories at Le Mans, Porsche are seeking a new challenge. Given Webber’s recent history with Red Bull Racing, he, perhaps under the guise of his ambassador role with Porsche is in someway involved in discussions to bring the two parties together with a role for Brendon Hartley as a driver within the package.

I have stated previously that the relationship between ExxonMobil, BP, and Renault for me is not logical. Fuel and Lubricant solutions must be developed in conjunction with power unit development. It is not possible to define a one size fits all development roadmap for the Renault Power Unit. At some point in the near future, if not, at some point in the past. BP or ExxonMobil will identify a performance opportunity with the Renault power unit which does not favour the other supplier. At this point power unit development will split. Renault will produce one power unit format for the works team and a different solution for Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Who will fund this alternative solution, and at what point is a Renault Power Unit no longer a Renault Power Unit?

Could Porsche be considering redirecting budget from the World Endurance Championship, a figure believed to be in the region of $100M towards a power unit development plan in Formula One? Paying Renault to use their technology as a basis for involvement would minimise the risk of ‘doing a Honda’ ensuring reasonable performance from the word go.

One thing is for sure, Porsche are seeking a new challenge, drivers, unlike fans, don’t attend race meetings in team wear when they are not competing for the fun of it. Perhaps in this case 2+2 might just equal 5.

Thanks to Sean Bull for pulling together incredible concept artwork for a Red Bull Racing Porsche mash up.

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WEC: The Season Starts Here

Qualifying for the first round of the 2016 World Endurance Championship took place today in mixed, at times snowy, conditions at Silverstone. The No.7 Audi R18 of Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler ended the 20-minute wet session by claiming a sensational pole position with an average time of 1m53.204 at the head, with the No.8 Audi of Duval and Di Grassi make it all-Audi front row, although last gasp Di Grassi   attempt on pole ends in trip through gravel. Porsche fill out second row with No.1 heading No.2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, Disappointment for Toyota Gazoo Racing after issues leaves then 5th and 6th.

Ahead of the season opener check out Mobil One’s The Grid Preview to the 2016 World Endurance Championship:

Despite a challenging opening qualifying session Porsche remain confident they will be the team to beat in 2016, see their preview to the season here:

OPINION: GP2 & WEC – Bahrain Rookie Test, the future of career development?

LMP1

With the size of your sponsorship portfolio rather than the success seen in your racing career continue to be a key determining factor in a driver stepping from junior racing category into F1, drivers whose skills are focused on keeping their car between the white lines are increasingly looking towards a career in endurance racing.

Owing to the cancellation of the German Formula One Grand Prix earlier in the season, in one month from now GP2 for the first time in the series history, take on the support race role for the World Endurance Championship in Bahrain. Following what promises to be a thrilling weekend of racing, the World Endurance Championship will run a series of rookie test sessions. These sessions will offer a selection of drivers from GP2, who may have otherwise lacked the budget to further advance their career, the opportunity to test championship winning LMP1 machines.

The test line-up will include Richie Stanaway, already competing the WEC with Aston Martin in the LMGTEPro category, who will be testing the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro. Mitch Evans, who has already discussed he ambition to move towards endurance racing, testing the currently dominant Porsche 919 Hybrid, and 2013 GP2 runner up, DS Virgin Racing Formula E, and LMP2 driver Sam Bird testing the Toyota TS040 Hybrid.

Does this test represent a seed change in the mind-set of drivers and promoters towards Endurance Racing? No longer should it be perceived exclusively as the place for retired Formula One drivers (although the Colombian variety of these will be represented and very welcome!) Endurance racing offers drivers a formidable racing challenge, arguably superior in many respects to Formula One. The World Endurance Championship is rapidly becoming the home of a driving elite. How long will it be before Formula One drivers don’t just dip their toe into the Le Man’s experience, but when it comes to contract negotiations consider a seat with an LMP1 team as a true alternative to an F1 team.

This event in Bahrain is a huge step forward for Motor Racing.