Timo Bernhard: The glue that bonds Porsche's winning team together

Mark Webber may have made more headlines after winning the WEC title for Porsche, but without Timo Bernhard the team would have not achieved the same level of success, says Sam Smith.

When Mark Webber described Timo Bernhard as "the glue that bonds our team together" at the post-seasons awards ceremony in an uber-swanky hotel at Bahrain last Sunday evening, he coined a phrase which met with knowing nods from the FIA WEC paddock.

Bernhard has been a key ingredient in Porsches success, and while the mantra of all successful sporting units is 'teamwork', occasionally one of its constituent parts becomes totally fundamental to the overall collaborative work ethic.

In Bernhard's case this rings true. The man himself, as humble and as pleasant as any professional driver I have come across in an often ruthless sport, will probably hate to read this, but without him the No.17 Porsche team is unlikely to have enjoyed the level of success it has had this season.

This is no way to decry Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber's own brilliant efforts this year. Both have been on excellent form and thoroughly deserve their silverware and places at the top table of endurance drivers.

Bernhard though is the lynchpin of the team, and brings bags of experience that has formed the foundation for this season's success.

His performances have been sensational behind the wheel of the Porsche Team 919 Hybrid this season. Pace wise he has never driven better; consistency and strategy have been superb too.

However, it is his tireless work behind the scenes which has captured hearts and minds.

"Timo is Timo, isn't he," Porsche team principal Andreas Seidl told me back at the Fuji round in October. "A quality guy, a quality racer and someone who has Porsche in his heart and in his veins.

"What impresses me about him is that when he is out of the cockpit he is always thinking, always pushing. But he does this is a total way which attracts you to him.

"His human skills and the way he listens and tells us what he is thinking are very good and clear. You will not find one guy in the paddock who does not respect Timo. He is super important for us."

Bernhard joins most decorated drivers in endurance history

His latest silverware is likely to ensure the need for a trophy room extension at Chez Bernhard this winter, as the FIA WEC title vies for room amid a multitude of trophies for the popular German.

An overall Le Mans victory (2010), GT class honours at La Sarthe (2002), a Sebring 12 Hours win (2008), back-to-back ALMS titles (2007 and 2008), Daytona 24 Hours overall victory (2003) and five Nurburgring 24 Hours wins (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011) are just some of his achievements in endurance racing.

Now, he is a world champion. The relief and exultancy etched on his face last Sunday told the story of a career that had reached a remarkable new zenith.

Undoubtedly there will be more to come, because Timo Bernhard is simply a class act.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series WEC
Drivers Mark Webber , Timo Bernhard , Brendon Hartley
Teams Porsche Team
Article type Analysis