IndyCar star Juan Pablo Montoya has described his first taste of the WEC championship-winning Porsche 919 Hybrid as “a helluva toy”.
Driving the same car which Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard drove to world championship glory on Saturday evening, Montoya lapped in a respectable 1m43.174s on his first acquaintance on Sunday morning in Bahrain.
“First impression is that the car is amazing,” said Montoya. “It’s a helluva toy – that’s the best way to describe it. I’ve driven all kinds of cars and it’s a lot of fun.
“It’s got a lot of power, it’s really, really stable and it’s actually really easy to overdrive. It’s so predictable that it invites you to hustle the hell out of it.
“It’s shocking because it’s so good. It’s actually in a way easy, but because it’s easy, it’s easy to go over it [the limit].
“The car has a lot of understeer in it. I understood in the simulator everything that I had to do with the hybrid system, and it’s OK. I was shocking when they gave me a 30-page manual on how to drive the car! At McLaren we had a page of the buttons on the steering wheel, which all had letters. You had to remember which letter did what.
“I need to figure out that balance between driving it fast and overdriving the car. It’s a really good track to drive it: long straights, hard braking. I haven’t been here since F1 in 2006 [when he finished fifth for McLaren]. The car is really good, it responds to changes really well.
“For me, today is more about enjoying the car than anything else. The idea is to have fun and drive the hell out of it.”