Modified Porsche LMP1 breaks Hamilton's Spa F1 record
Porsche's 919 Hybrid LMP1 car has broken the unofficial lap record of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, setting a time quicker than Lewis Hamilton's pole lap in last year's Formula 1 race.
Former FIA World Endurance champion Neel Jani was at the wheel of the modified 919 Hybrid 'Evo' on Monday to record a lap of 1m41.770s around the Belgian Grand Prix venue.
That compares to Hamilton's 2017 F1 pole time of 1m42.553s, which was hitherto the fastest lap around Spa in its current 7.004km (4.352-mile) configuration.
Porsche is embarking on a 'World Tour' with its now-retired LMP1 car this year following its withdrawal from the WEC's top division, and has made numerous changes to the 919 in a bid to demonstrate what the car is capable of free of its usual restrictions.
"This additional success is the result of the LMP team's hard work and a proud day for the engineers," said Porsche LMP1 boss Andreas Seidl. "One can only congratulate Neel and the entire crew for achieving it.
"All six 2017 LMP1 drivers contributed to the project. It was our target to show the Porsche 919 Hybrid's abilities when we ease the restrictions that came from the WEC regulations."
Among the changes made to the 919 'Evo' are an enlarged front diffuser and rear wing, the addition of DRS at the front and rear, and considerably more power, with Jani reaching a top speed of 359km/h (223mph) thanks to the 2.0-litre V4 engine being tuned to produce around 720bhp - compared to the 500bhp it had previously due to LMP1 fuel flow regulations.
The hybrid system has also been tweaked to deliver an additional 40bhp compared to the 2017 version.
"The 919 Evo is brutally impressive," commented Jani. "It is definitely the fastest car I ever drove. The grip level is at a fully new dimension for me, I couldn't imagine this amount beforehand.
"The speed on which everything happens on a single lap with the 919 Evo is that fast that the demand on reaction speed is very different to what I was used to in the WEC.
"We are not only faster than the F1 pole from 2017. Today's lap was 12 seconds faster compared to our WEC pole position from last year!
"We have had three very intense days at Spa. Today I knew on the very first lap in the morning that the car's performance was super. The race engineers did a great job setting up the car and the Michelin tyres are sensational."
The 919 'Evo' will next been seen in action in the run-up to the Nurburgring 24 Hours in May, with further runs planned at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, at Brands Hatch in September and at Laguna Seca in October.
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