Porsche have broken the unofficial track record at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, using a modified version of their 919 Hybrid car.
The unofficial fastest laptime of the current Spa layout was a 1:42.5, set by Lewis Hamilton during 2017’s qualifying session. Porsche beat that on Monday, with former Red Bull Young Driver Neel Jani clocking a 1:41.770 using the 919.
The car was being run in a heavily modified configuration compared to when it was raced in the WEC.
Along with aerodynamic modifications outside WEC spec, including a larger front diffuser, the introduction of a Drag Reduction System and updates that were scheduled to run on the car this season, the fuel flow system used in WEC was removed. This boosted the power to 720HP and the top speed to 360km/h.
The time Jani achieved was 12 seconds faster than the fastest clocked when the car was raced at the circuit last season.
Porsche took three successive Le Mans wins and WEC titles from 2015 to 2017 using the 919 Hybrid but withdrew from LMP1 at the end of the season, in order to focus on its upcoming Formula E entry.
Jani commented: “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 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!”
Porsche believes that further lap time would have been possible had it not been restricted by its resources.
“It was kind of an engineer’s dream come true for us”, said LMP1 Chief Race Engineer Stephen Mitas, who led the project.
“Having developed, improved and raced the car for four years, the guys had a very close relationship to it. We all knew, no matter how successful the 919 Hybrid was, it could never show its full abilities.
“Actually even the Evo version doesn’t fully exploit the technical potential. This time we were not limited by regulations but resources. It is a very satisfying feeling that what we’ve done to the car was enough to crack the Formula 1 record.”