FIA, the European Governing body of Motorsport events, regularly updated their rules and regulations and it was up to the manufacturers and privateers to adapt to the newest regulations. With the scrutiny following higher power consumption of the racing cars due to the climate change and other environmental issues caused by carbon dioxide emissions and refining crude oil, FIA decided to set an example by introducing a new open-engine formula.
This so-called “open engine formula” was all about restricting how much energy a sports car could have at its disposal without defining the means a manufacturer must use to achieve that goal. The FIA further calculated energy for each car and came up with a regulation appendix that specified in which hybrid energy category the car raced, how much fuel it carried, and how fast the fuel could be consumed.
24 Hours of Le Mans regulations for 2014 dictated five energy categories. Zero to eight megajoules per lap restriction meant that the manufacturers had to reduce fuel consumption by more than 25% when compared to the regulations for 2011.
Eight megajoules was the strictest limit and cars in the eight-megajoule category could use 1.17 gallons per lap, an equivalent of 7.19 miles per gallon. The zero megajoules category was the least restricted and cars in the zero megajoules category could consume 1.31 gallons per lap, an equivalent of 6.42 miles per gallon.
However, the zero megajoules cars had to weigh at least 1874 pounds. Two, four, six, and eight-megajoule cars had to weigh at least 1918 pounds.
This allowed manufacturers to compete with race cars powered by gasoline and diesel engines and a wide variety of energy recovering and storage systems.
Toyota came up with a 3.7-liter inline-six gasoline engine and energy recovery systems like regenerative braking to store energy into a supercapacitor. The supercapacitor was fast to charge and discharge energy.
Audi developed a 4.0-liter inline-six diesel-powered car with one kinetic energy recovery system.
Porsche took a different approach and decided to develop a new 2.0-liter inline-four engine. This was the smallest displacement specified by the FIA, and the reason to use such a smaller displacement unit was to make room for two separate energy recovery systems.
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 was as a matter of fact a technological masterpiece and consisted of a cutting-edge carbon fiber monocoque tub and chassis, a 2.0-liter inline-four engine, and electric motors on the front axle.
The kinetic energy recovery system used by Audi for their racing car was similar to the system on Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1. This setup was a heat energy recovery system that worked with the exhaust gases. It was therefore categorized under the MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit – Heat).
Unlike Toyota, Porsche decided to use a battery to store energy despite it is slower to charge and discharge when compared to the advantages provided by a supercapacitor. However, this also allowed the Porsche engineers to have more options in terms of where it can deliver the power back to the wheels.
Porsche’s system was similar to their traditional yet effective turbocharging system, with the only difference being the use of exhaust gases to spin a turbine mated to an electric generator instead of spinning a turbine connected to an intake compressor.
The 2.0-liter V-4 engine developed a maximum power output of 500hp and the electric motors in the front-axle produced 400 hp.
Beauty or elegance wasn’t considered as a requirement when the engineers designed the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1. Providing the car with precise airflow to improve aerodynamic efficiency, downforce and handling was the prime objective of the body designing team.
In 2014, Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 raced in the sixth-megajoule category at 24 Hours of Le Mans. This meant that the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 could release six megajoules of energy back to the wheels over the course of each complete 13.6 km lap.
Porsche wasn’t certain about the impact on long-range performance and decided to compete in the sixth-megajoule category instead of competing in the strictest eight-megajoule category. It competed in 2015 and 2016 events under the eight-megajoule category.
The sixth-megajoule category allowed 1.19 gallons per lap or an equivalent of 7.06 miles per gallon. It also meant that the car could come with a weight of at least 1918 pounds.
FIA also dictated that each car was restricted to use only two energy recovery systems, a rule Porsche welcomed with open hands.
Porsche 919 Hybrid could carry 18 gallons of fuel in its tank, and FIA regulations restricted the maximum fuel flow to 89.5 kg per hour.
Development of the Porsche 919 Hybrid
Porsche’s authority board approved the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 project as part of an effort to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011. However, there wasn’t a specifically assigned staff to develop or design it. A month passed by with only five engineers working on the project, but within a time period of few months nearly 150 engineers were assigned with the project.
By mid-2012 racing season, a new wind tunnel was nearly completed. Porsche 918 Spyder was the first-ever hybrid road-going supercar to be built by Porsche and it was developed ad engineered under Frank Steffen Walliser.
Frank Steffen Walliser was chosen as the head of the Porsche 919 Hybrid project due to his experience and the advanced complexity of the project. Hybrid technologies used for the Porsche 918 Spyder were continued in the Porsche 919 Hybrid at first but the advanced complexity and requirements necessary to comply with new FIA regulations resulted in many changes.
According to Frank Steffen Walliser, there’s nothing in common between the Porsche 918 Spyder and Porsche 919 Hybrid.
Porsche engineers developed an inline-four engine. Due to its compact nature, the engine required its gearbox housing to occupy nearly a third of the car’s length to yield a suitable wheelbase.
Engineers also decided to use batteries to store recovered energy. These batteries were high-density ones and were specifically designed for racing. There was a possibility that the batteries wouldn’t last an entire race, but engineers decided to size the cells according to the energy demand and safety requirements.
By the end of 2012, the development team has finished their work on the carbon monocoque tub and the chassis. Since the car was supposed to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the last leg of the 2013 racing season, it was scheduled to be unveiled in June. However, Porsche unveiled the car in March at the International Geneva Motor Show, just before the April trials at 24 Hours of Le Mans. Porsche pulled the same trick with their Type 917, decades ago.
The car was originally planned to be unveiled at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013, but Porsche decided to sit out to perform intensive testing to make sure the car worked fine without any trouble. The decision to sit out the 2013 event was taken after experiencing an engine vibration problem that could eventually damage the car since it was designed in a way to use the engine as a structural element.
Though it took six months to develop a new engine, Porsche competed two Porsche 919 Hybrid race cars in the 2014 full racing season including 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Porsche team recorded their first victory at the season finale in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Porsche 919 Hybrid 2.0
Flacht based Porsche competition engineering center now had more than 350 engineers, designers, and developers working on the Porsche 919 Hybrid to revise it.
Porsche was now armed with the revised Porsche 919 Hybrid and a seasoned team for the 2015 racing season.
Porsche 919 Hybrid went on to win the starting pole position at 24 Hours of Le Mans, breaking the previous 24 Hours of Le Mans lap record in the process. This was achieved by the No.18 Porsche 919 Hybrid.
In the third-fastest qualifier, No.19 Porsche 919 Hybrid won the first overall place. No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid also recorded the second-fastest qualifier. No.18 Porsche 919 Hybrid, the pole sitter finished in fifth place.
In 2016, the Porsche factory team deployed their two Porsche 919 Hybrid cars to qualify for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with first and second fastest. The pole-sitter won the first overall at the event.
Car No.1 was driven by Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, and Brendon Hartley. Car No.2 was driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, and Marc Lieb.
No.2 Porsche 919 Hybrid completed 384 laps, 3251.96 miles or 5233.53 km.
Consistent performance from Dumas, Jani, and Lieb won them the World Endurance Driver’s Championship and the team’s second.
Bernhard, Webber, and Hartely had reliability issues in the first three races of the season, but then they went on to win four out of six remaining rounds, effectively securing Porsche the World Manufacturer’s Championship.
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1
At the beginning of December 2016, Porsche started track testing its all-new Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 cars. The official unveiling of the new car was scheduled for March 2017.
Porsche claims that they retained the monocoque chassis from 2016, but 60% to 70% of the car was all new. Aerodynamic alterations including a redesigned front fascia featuring wider arches for the front wheels to make it less aerodynamically sensitive from small bits of discarded rubber from the track surface.
A new channel from the monocoque to the wheel arch was also now featured along with redesigned rearward air intakes for the radiators.
New regulations required to use of only two aerodynamic packages for the season and this restricted the flexibility depending on the type of the track.
One aerodynamic package featured raised front splitter to lower its cornering speeds and two strakes on its underside, a low downforce package to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The second aerodynamic package had features to increase the amount of drag and downforce.
Porsche still remained in the 8 megajoules category for the 2017 racing season. The engine was completely modified to make it lightweight, more compact, and more efficient. The power output of the engine was rated at 500 hp. When the dual kinetic energy recovery system was active, the power output was rated at 900hp. Approximately 60% of the kinetic energy produced while braking was recovered by its front kinetic energy absorption system. The remaining 40% was generated by the rear dual exhaust pipe system.
Exhaust gases allowed the turbine to run at more than 120,000 rpm, operating a magnetic generating unit that converted kinetic energy into electricity to be stored into the third generation lithium-ion battery. The turbine was designed in a way to run efficiently with variable geometry when there was low exhaust pressure at low speeds.
Tandy and Andre Lotterer replaced Dumas and Lieb and teamed with Jani. Mark Webber retired from racing, and Bamber joined the team to fill his void. Porsche won the podium in the first two rounds.
Bamber, Bernhard, and Hartley won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and three more events in the season, securing Porsche the World Manufacturer’s Championship for the third consecutive time. They also won the World Driver’s Championship as well.
After the 2017 racing season, Porsche 919 Hybrid project was discontinued, and Porsche entered Formula E. An evolution of the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo was unveiled in 2018.
Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo
Porsche unveiled the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo on the 11th of April 2018. It broke the official lap record of the Circuit de Spa with a laptime of 1 minute 41.77 seconds. This was accomplished by Jani, and he ran the car at Kemmel straight with a recorded speed of 223.1mph (359 km/h).
Air conditioning, windscreen wipers, headlights, and electric devices were removed to reduce 39kg, thus resulting in a curb weight of 849kg.
Aerodynamic tweaks resulted in increased aerodynamic efficiency of 66% when compared to the 53% of the previous car.
Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo was driven by Bernhard around the Nurburgring with a recorded lap time of 5 minutes and 19.54 seconds, breaking the 6 minutes 11.13-second record set by Stefan Bellof in a Porsche 956 back in 1983.