Mitch Evans, Kevin Magnussen and Oliver Turvey have completed the first day of a two day test, as they were given the chance to get to grips with the Porsche 919 Hybrid at Circuit de Catalunya today.
Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard was on hand to set the benchmark for the trio and offer advice on the Le Mans and WEC championship winning machinery.
“We are a young team with a highly complex race car. For us it is always exciting and informative when drivers share their first experiences with the 919 Hybrid” said team principal Andreas Seidl.
“We regularly scan various motorsport categories for strong drivers, inside and outside the Porsche family. We are really pleased our test programme has allowed us to invite these three drivers to Barcelona. Before this, they visited Weissach in October to prepare for this.” commented Seidl.
Preparation for the test included a seat fitting at the Porsche R&D centre in Weissach along with a simulator session with the focus on operating the complex steering wheel.
“Everybody involved in this test will learn and benefit a lot, and that is what this is for. With regard to anything else in the future, we have no announcements planned, especially as we are very happy with our works drivers.” added Seidl.
This isn’t the first Le Mans Prototype experience for Evans who is currently in placed sixth in his third season of the GP2 series. The young New Zealander made his début at the Le Mans 24 hours in the LMP2 category, helping his team to a second place finish.
“It is a great opportunity for me to test drive the 919 Hybrid – a Le Mans winning car!” enthused Evans. “It is very smooth to drive. A few things are completely new to me. I’m not used to power steering, this type of tyre and have never raced a four-wheel-drive car.
“But the most impressive thing is the acceleration from the hybrid when the e-machine kicks in. The car is very stable and gives you a lot of confidence. I’d like to thank the Porsche Team for this opportunity.”
For Magnussen it has provided an opportunity to evaluate an alternative career plan to Formula 1; following his debut season with McLaren in 2014, he was dropped in favour of Fernando Alonso and has been on the sidelines since.
“The Porsche 919 Hybrid is the first race car I have driven for months, and it’s an amazing car with amazing power” said Magnussen. “It is easy to feel that this is probably the most advanced race car in the world at the moment. I have a few things to work on, especially getting on top of braking.
“As you can’t see the front wheels here, you don’t really know when you’re locking up, so that is something to get used to and there is also a lot less visibility compared to a single seater. So there are a few things to get used to, but the first impression is really good and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Turvey has the advantage of being the driver with the biggest sportscar experience of the trio heading in to the test having competed at Le Mans three times in an LMP2 car, which includes a win in 2014 and a second place in 2015.
“It is phenomenal to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid” said Turvey. “The amount of power the car has from the combustion engine and the e-machine, which drives the front axle, is really impressive. The grip level and the downforce level is very high.
“The car feels very stable and consistent – it is a pleasure to drive it and I’m very grateful to Porsche for the opportunity to test here in Barcelona.” he added.
The second day of testing will get under way tomorrow at the Catalonia circuit.