Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

F1 will “smash” Porsche’s Spa record – Hulkenberg

2018 F1 season

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Formula One will “smash” the lap time Porsche set with its 919 Hybrid Evo at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Nico Hulkenberg predicted.

The former World Endurance Championship team claimed a “record” lap for the Belgian circuit with a modified version of its LMP1 car.

Hulkenberg, who drove for Porsche’s LMP1 team at Spa in 2015 and won the Le Mans 24 Hours with them that year, said he hadn’t been aware of their plan to develop the 919 Hybrid Evo. “I think it’s just a fun project,” he said.

He said he would like the chance to drive the car but admitted it “would be difficult” given his Renault F1 contract. Hulkenberg also predicted the lap time set by Neel Jani in the car, a 1’41.770, will only last until F1 visits the track for this year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

“I think when we come around this year we’re going to smash that record, or someone will,” he said.

Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley, who raced for Porsche until the end of last season, said the lap time was “a big achievement”. Porsche’s WEC drivers had suspected the car was heavily limited by the series’ regulations.

“I know how restrictive the rules were in the WEC to keep the car slower. So in a way we always expected that there was so much more performance especially if you had more fuel.

“We had such a big electric engine that was also restricted on power [and] I know they’ve increased the downforce and DRS and all these things. It’s very impressive the lap time they’ve done.”

Jani’s lap time was 0.783 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time for last year’s Belgian Grand Prix and 12.327 seconds faster than the pole time for last year’s WEC round at Spa, which was set by Porsche.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “F1 will “smash” Porsche’s Spa record – Hulkenberg”

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      21st April 2018, 12:24

      I can’t wait to see what times a Koenigsegg can do – they had the unfortunate accident a few years ago.

      1. I’d love to see the Dodge Viper ACR, too, have a proper go at it once again. IIRC the weather was poor when the 2 sponsored cars went to the track, and one of them crashed. And the drivers were supposedly doing it just for kicks. That car should be able to break the 7 minute barrier with a bit of effort.

          22nd April 2018, 2:28

          How about the Laguna Seca edition of the ACR? Only 28 of them produced!

      2. I can’t wait to see how closer can i get with my 2cv. If my calculations are correct, i can go 1.39’5. That is from La Source to Eau Rouge, obviously.

        1. Lap record 2cv 24H 2017: 3:09.026

          1. This is the first I have ever heard of 2CV racing, and I am dying to know more! If they can go around Spa in 3:09 they must be heavily modified – right? Do you have any information about this that you could share?

            I once, for two glorious weeks, drove a borrowed 2CV Mehari (the “jeep” version). I have never met so many smiling people in traffic since (even though I held most of them up for long stretches, since I was constantly both flat out and way below the speed limit at the same time). And cornering any attainable speed was an mixed experience of thrill and terror. The mere thought of racing it makes me …. no, wait: now I HAVE to do that someday :-)

        2. I think I can get into the 1.38s with my Hillman Minx. Just need to stick some vortex generators on it and retract the turn signals.

    2. Egonovi, Let’s be blunt, Nurburgring lap times are usually rather questionable at best – for a start, the head of Ford’s performance division commented that the automotive manufacturers can’t even agree on a common standard on how to measure the lap times, or even what the start and finish points on the lap should be.

      There is absolutely no external verification of the condition of the cars in those runs, or even any agreement that the cars even have to be in “stock” conditions when they do their run to begin with. It means that tales abound of claims that manufacturers have modified supposedly “stock” cars into a Nurburgring special simply to get a better time for bragging rights and to get people to plaster videos of their cars about the net going “look how great these guys are” (apologies if this makes it look like I am picking on you – it’s just that your behaviour is exactly what they want to see people doing).

      Track day tyres that aren’t road legal, tweaked engines running on higher octane fuel, modified brakes, stripped down lightweight cars and even suggestions that some of the onboard videos have been doctored to make the times look better than they are all claims that have abounded around different cars that have done runs at the Nurburgring. I have to agree with what those at organisations like AMG or Ford have said about running “production” cars at the Nurburgring – that the cars probably aren’t really “production” cars and the lap times cannot really be trusted.

      1. Here’s your sort-of external verification. And that’s the slower GT3:


        I agree on some of your points, but if everyone’s doing it, it evens out. And why were there no such protest when the GTR set a fast lap some years ago, using the same track-day tires?

    3. Eh, to me, Sabine Schmitz in a van around the ring is the definitive lap :-)

  1. Given that last years pole time was a 42.5, I’m definitely expecting the cars to break the record. Could we even get a sub 41? And in future, a sub 40 around Spa…

    1. Someone derestrict a 2018 F1 car and set the record straight

      1. 1 minute 32 if they could break the rules on aero and increase battery power, fuel flow rates. Good for Porsche though as a way of covering the recent arrests of some senior engineers there.

  2. You guys need to check out this YouTuber and his Nurburgring Nortschleife challenge videos, where he drives all kinds of race cars on the track, including a 2004 F1 Ferrari and the current IndyCar.

    Porsche 919 Evo on the Nordschleife VIRTUAL on-board LAP:

    1. @damon Jimmy’s vids are epic!

  3. Would be even more fun if Ferrari or Merc F1 teams come back later with an unrestricted one off car like Porsche have done.

    1. Now that would be something. Engine could probably do 1300hp, that would be enough for some 6s, and downforce improvements? Who knows how much gain they would make. It is safe to say they could do 10s faster laptime with unlimites freedom.

  4. I know this is an F1 site, but since you are comparing F1 track times to what the new Porsche has done at similar venues is quite remarkable.
    But when Maxspeed is sought the BloodhoundSSC is a potential stunner.
    Build a racecar that goes over 1,000mph and to claim the record it has be done in opposite directions within one hour. The average of both runs gives the record speed number. The level of Technical challenge required is astronomical.
    Of human made machines l guess The Voyager Spacecraft takes the overall fastest machine. In constant flight speed is roughly 67 FASTER than what the Bloodhound project is about. The idea of humans driving fast in cars really has many many levels.
    Its cool stuff.

    1. voyager is not the fastest overall machine Helios 2 is having clocked a speed of around 250,000 km/h whereas voyager comes in at 67,000 kmh.

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        23rd April 2018, 12:09

        If you consider the max speed humans have achieved to be 250,000km/h imagine then the huge distances in space where light travelling at 300,000km/s = 1 billion km/h and it still takes millions of years to reach another galaxy.

  5. Of course, that time will ‘probably’ only last until F1 goes there in late-August.

    1. ‘that time will probably only last as an all-time record’

      1. @jerejj, strictly speaking, that lap time by Porsche is not allowed to stand as an official lap time record to begin with – official fastest laps can only be set with a car that complies to the standards of an officially sanctioned race series and must be set during the race itself. It’s why, although Hamilton’s pole time was 1m42.55s, the official current circuit record is the 1m46.56s lap time that Vettel set during the 2017 race.

        The time that Porsche set therefore has no official standing in any sense – at best, it might be vaguely remembered in future as briefly holding the unofficial lap time record.

        1. @anon That’s the whole point, though. Yes, only lap times set in race conditions (that’s the case, in F1 at least) are counted as ‘official’ lap records, but the fastest ever lap time for any given circuit set in any session is usually a lap time set in qualifying (sometimes in testing), so of course, they’re only counted as ‘unofficial’ records, but still, they’re technically the ‘all-time records’ as they’re the fastest ever times set in any conditions.

          1. Theres (race)lap records and track records. They are both valid records but obviously one is a record within the sport and one is simply the fastest a car has even been pushed around the track.

        2. So if an f1 car goes faster this year in qualifying, we can say it wil vaguely be remembered too? , as they won’t beat that time in the race. Some f1 fans really want to belittle this achievement instead of respecting all motorsport and applauding this cool achievement. Unofficial or official, it is The fastest ever lap of Spa, that is cool!

          1. I don’t think it is disrespecting all Motorsport to point out a ‘competition’ (since Porsche did invite this conversation) that is not apples to apples. It is something closer to respecting all Motorsport to ponder, with Porsche’s tongue in cheek ‘gauntlet’ thrown down, what an F1 car stripped down could do.

            If this was just a bit of fun, then ‘belittling’ is too harsh a word. It’s more like we’re in on the joke.

  6. For sim racing in this day and age, I really just want gran turismo, or another credible sim maker (pc or console), to make an F1 game. We’re being deprived of good fun with the current iteration and I personally stopped playing after a week of buying the Codemasters game last year.

    As an aside, there is a huge potential added value to real world racing itself: data can be analysed from thousands(+) of simulated races on different gaming platforms, all in sync with real races. Millions of us gamers can test setup parameters; tyre makeup, warm up optimisation and degradation; even giving insight into aiding overtaking as sims get better year on year. Why not include cars from other racing categories as comparisons of outright performance to optimise all racing spectacles.

    This ultimately enables a new level of fan inclusion and investment in motorsport, and would facilitate progression in defining actual racing category regulations. Let’s make use of this digital age to have enormous fun!!!!!!

    1. digitalrurouni
      22nd April 2018, 23:52

      I am curious what you find not good about the 2017 F1 Codemasters game. I for one quite enjoyed it so far.

      1. Gran Turismo is a superb game and at the same time not considered as good as PC sims, as to be expected. Codemasters F1 is an arcade game compared to GT.

  7. Let me just quickly remind everyone of a few things. Whether the records stays or not, it’s still remarkable what they did, and they show how much faster an LMP1 can be. That’s right. The ACO/WEC always try to slow down the LMP1s. They constantly cut their energy allowance, they made them narrower in 2014, they limit the number of aero packages they can use. Yet, they sometimes seem to defy those rule changes, as in the 2015 and 2017 races, especially LM.

    At the same time, Formula 1 cars were sped up massively after 2016, and they are thinking of maybe speeding them up even more.

    It’s not just that LMP1s have a higher min weight, lower fuel allowance, have to last a lot more miles, and have to use a lot less tires per mile. For the powers that be, F1 will always have to be the pinnacle of motorsports, so they make sure that happens through the regulations.

    Anyway, do F1 cars even have headlights or AC?

    All that does not mean a modified, illegal F1 car could go even faster. It’s just a demonstration that LMP1s have the potential to be at least as fast as regular F1 cars – probably even if they installed headlights, wipers, AC and other such stuff.

    1. Forgot to add possibly one of the most important details – this is the 2015 919 chassis, isn’t it? And what we know about the engine/MGU is at least that it hasn’t been modified compared to the regular 2017 components, only the energy allocation was changed.

      1. Justin (@boombazookajd)
        22nd April 2018, 0:00

        @bobec They modified the entire car, and this is the 2017 car. The fuel flow was upped, granting the ICE 720hp instead of 500, and as you said, the MGU was given 8.something megajoules of energy for a combined PU output of 1160hp.

        That said, you are correct; no matter what an F1 car will respond with- this was a wonderful achievement that shows how fast LMP cars can be. Whether or not they could reliably race in these types of configurations, thats another matter.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if LMP1 (closed cockpits) and F1 (ultra-performance) merged one day as F1 is heading into the closed cockpit direction (eventually they’ll close the cockpit I believe).

      2. bobec, and why is that such a surprise? The main point of most racing series is to be the quickest within a certain set of parameters – it’s not hard to then make a car much quicker if you simply disregard those regulations, so I don’t really get why everybody is so hyped up about it.

        It should also be noted that the ACO has a rather good reason for trying to slow the cars down, which is the spate of serious accidents that have occurred in recent years as the cars became faster than the safety measures that had been allowed for (Davidson and Nakajima both fracturing vertebrae or Duval’s concussion injuries).

        @boombazookajd, if you tried racing this car, I suspect it would go the way of the Welter Racing “Project 400” car. Much like the WM P88, it seems Porsche have cut down on the amount of cooling the car has – making it OK for a single lap special, but not really possible to race it for lap after lap.

        1. @anon Have to agree with you and it was my opinion when the Porsche 919 article first appeared a few weeks ago. It’s kind of cool, but is of little relevance. It’s a fun project sure, but doesn’t mean much beyond that, since many entities could take and do all kinds of wild things to a car and make it go much faster once regulations are ignored. Since the comparison has been made to F1 lap times, the fun thing would be to see what an F1 car could really do stripped down, and I bet the decrease in lap time would be vastly bigger percentage wise than Porsche has managed.

        2. True, those accidents did happen, but the FIA slow F1 cars down after Bianchi’s fatal accident? Or after Raikkonen’s close call with Alonso at Austria 2015?

          Yes, the WEC can be dangerous sometimes because of the differences in speed due to the inclusion of 4 different classes, and also because of the paid amateur drivers. But I don’t think Nakajima’s or Davidson’s accidents were caused by high speed. One was caused by atrocious weather during practice, the other was a Ferrari cutting the the Toyota at one of the heaviest braking zones. Here a few questions could be raised about Toyota’s commitment to safety – they have proven they are cutting a lot of corners to achieve maximum speed, and as a result suffered when it comes to reliability, serviceability and survivability during the long LM races. If I remember, the Audi driver that was hit by Nakajima was perfectly alright. And there were also the awful 2011 Audi crashes, which also protected the driver.

          Duvall’s crash was the result of speed, but when was the last time F1 cars were tackling very fast and tricky corners with real grass right next to the tarmac? I think the safety features of the track are also a big factor.
          And also, at least at LM, prototypes with more grip and more downforce are always more capable of negotiating slower traffic in a safe manner. But the ACO made them narrower, restricted the number of permitted aero packages, while the teams try to run their tires for multiple 45-min stints – and yes, the ACO did that because of the pitstop and tire change regulations.

          This Porsche Spa lap might not mean much, I agree, but I still think it was cool. I also think they could have gone faster and I hope to see more lap records from this car. Just for fun.

          A few questions arise – what if those skirts on the modified 919 can replace the mandatory BHH that produce so much drag? And why hasn’t an F1 car ever gone out on the full La Sarthe circuit. Just for fun.

    2. Justin (@boombazookajd)
      23rd April 2018, 3:21

      @bobec Congrats on COTD!

  8. #RaininQuali

  9. I didnt think this was a competition… The porsche track record was done for a little but of fun, and half the f1 world gets so defensive about it… Well if f1 fans are going to be like that, for now you are officially slower than another type of car around Spa!!

    1. Lol well in a way this was a competition since a reference has been made by Porsche to beating the F1 record at the track. They’ve invited the conversation.

      Sure it was done for a bit of fun, and it is possible to buy into that and get a kick out of it while also pointing out it’s not apples to apples. That’s why it is not actually the case that ‘we’ are ‘officially’ slower, since there is nothing official about it. F1 fans here only sound defensive because we don’t have a stripped down illegal F1 car out there at Spa doing the defending for us;)

  10. Formula 1 would get even bigger speed gain that this with relatively smaller modifications/restriction removal.
    The power units could easily unleash hundreds of extra hp, and the chassy could easily remove so much of the drag and add tons of downforce with unrestricted applications of active aero elements throughout.

    IIRC, one Williams engineer claimed that 20 seconds of lap time reduction would be quickly and easily achievable.

  11. When Peugeot 905 LM beated F1 lap record at Silverstone, FIA fastly overweighted prototypes and reduced their power…

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