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New Porsche 919 Hybrid: The technology secrets of the black mamba

New Porsche 919 Hybrid for Le Mans 2015
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S on December 15th the new 2015 generation Porsche 919 Hybrid unwound the first test kilometers. On the in-house track in Weissach, works driver Marc Lieb sat in the cockpit during the shakedown. One month later, the first official test was on the program. Timo Bernhard, Neel Jani, Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Frédéric Makowiecki covered a total of 4,092 kilometers on the Grand Prix track in Abu Dhabi. At the start of the test, the Weissach LMP1 team was primarily concerned with checking all systems under full load, sorting out teething problems and carrying out initial adjustments and tire tests.

In Bahrain (February 8th to 12th), Porsche followed up this program. 'We carried out tire tests with Michelin, carried out tuning and aerodynamics work, tried out settings for the limited-slip differential and traction control, and examined various hybrid strategies,' reported technical director Alexander Hitzinger. Important for Porsche: In contrast to the test in Abu Dhabi, it was possible to compare the data obtained in Bahrain with the results from the 2014 desert race, and thus make direct comparisons with the previous 919. With a total of 5,118 kilometers, there should have been enough material for evaluation.

At the beginning of March, Porsche set out for further test drives. This time we went to Aragon in northern Spain for five days. There, the LMP1 team tried out a further optimized aerodynamics package and simulated a race for the first time. The odometer reading recorded 7,599 kilometers after five days. In total, Porsche has so far achieved 18,866 test kilometers with the 2015 model.

Porsche 919 Hybrid completely revised for 2015

Porsche has big plans for 2015 - and a lot of pressure because of the great history: With 16 victories, the Swabians are record holders at Le Mans. After 16 years of abstinence, they returned to the long-distance stage in 2014. And how: four pole positions, six podium finishes, one victory in the World Cup. The balance sheet made us hungry for more: '2014 was the confirmation that our vehicle concept was right,' explains Alex Hitzinger, Head of Technology. 'Nevertheless, we have redesigned 90 to 95 percent of all components.'

The reason for the radical cure: 'On the one hand, in the course of our first season we identified potential for improvement, which is normal. On the other hand, we have to go along with itmake a leap forward with the overall package in order to be able to permanently win in Le Mans and the sports car world championship against strong competition. '

So the concept is the same, but the car is new. The aerodynamics have been improved to increase efficiency - downforce in the event of aerodynamic drag - and to reduce sensitivity. The front section of the Porsche 919 Hybrid for the 2015 season looks much tidier. The formerly wide nose is now slightly slimmer in the center. The front section is overall narrower and flatter than on the old model. The front spoiler has a slightly different shape on the outside.

Porsche does not want to give performance anywhere

In Bahrain, Porsche unveiled the rear of the new 919 Hybrid for the first time. The most striking innovation: The LMP1 racing car now releases the hot exhaust gases through two tailpipes placed on the left and right of the cockpit. In 2014, the 919 Hybrid was puffed r through a pipe on the left.

Porsche no longer wants to drive with a low-downforce variant for the season opener at Silverstone and the 6h race in Spa, as it did in 2014. 'We were new last year, so it didn't really matter which aero stand we went into the season with,' explains Hitzinger. 'Now we don't want to give up any more performance or lose any points - and nowhere!' A special version with reduced aerodynamic drag and less downforce is usually developed for the long straights at the season highlight in Le Mans.

A big change for 2015 concerns the chassis. The monocoque now consists of one part, not two. This saves weight and improves rigidity at the same time. The extremely compact four-cylinder turbo engine with a 90-degree bank angle was revised for 2015 with the aim of delivering more power. The complete hybrid system, consisting of brake and exhaust gas recuperation, has been rebuilt and the power density of the batteries increased again.

The Porsche 919 Hybrid had to slim down

The goal conflict for the designers was that every improvement in performance almost always had a negative impact on weight. But the task for 2015 was to reduce the weight - because last year the 919 LMP1 was slightly overweight in the range of 30 kilos. 'It is extremely time-consuming, on the one hand to increase the performance and on the other hand to reduce the weight', says Head of Technology Hitzinger, 'because the weight distribution in the car has to be maintained. Therefore, every component had to be checked and adapted for its weight reduction potential.'

Behind the scenes at Porsche, they assume that they have to improve their lap times by an average of two percentage points. To put it bluntly: on most tracks, Porsche has to find two seconds per lap - because the opponents, especially Toyota, use the same time approach.

Change to 8 megajoules

In addition to fine-tuning the engine, revising the aerodynamics and the targeted diet, the hybrid system is particularly important here in 2015 crucial role too. In the prototype regulations, the LMP1 manufacturers can determine the hybrid power themselves, four classes from 2 to 8 megajoules (MJ) are available. Toyota and Porsche started in the 6 MJ class in 2014 - and both want to saddle up to a maximum of 8 MJ in 2015. But we're not talking about peanuts here, but about an enormous technical challenge, as Alex Hitzinger explains:

'In order to increase the recuperation performance and switch to 8 megajoules, the entire KERS system must become more efficient.' Since one does not want to invest more weight for the reasons mentioned, the power density has to be increased, i.e. more power has to be squeezed out of the same weight and the same installation space. 'It's a huge step,' said Alex Hitzinger.

In addition, you have to differentiate between the different routes of the sports car world championship season, because under certain circumstances you can reach 8 MJ in Le Mans, but not on the other championship slopes. 'Here you have to simulate exactly and then weigh it up,' says Head of Technology Alex Hitzinger. A change to the 8 MJ class, however, brings a good one second to the lap time in Le Mans alone. Toyota will probably also switch to 8 MJ, the Japanese are said to have found two seconds in tests in Aragón, Spain.

Alonso commitment fails Honda objection

Another new feature this year is that Porsche will compete with 3 cars in Le Mans. The third car is occupied by Formula 1 drivers Nico Hülkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber. The latter two drivers were able to convince Porsche in the tests in Abu Dhabi. Porsche was very close to signing Fernando Alonso. The McLaren driver obviously wanted to compete in the long-distance classic, but at the last second, Honda's veto should have prevented the plan.

Ex-Sauber driver Adrian Sutil was also briefly discussed. The ongoing contract quarrels with Sauber were not exactly helpful when looking for a new employer.

In our gallery we show you the new Porsche 919 for the 2015 season in detail.


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