Ahead of the season opener, Porsche is remaining very quiet about which aero-package will be run by the team at Silverstone for the first round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship.
The team refuses to reveal whether they will adopt the low-drag aero package as part of their preparations for Le Mans 24 Hours or whether a high-downforce package will be installed, which will run more competitively around the Formula One circuit.
Porsche are being very secretive about their choice, with LMP1 team principle Andreas Seidl telling Autosport: “I will not tell you that – you will find out at Silverstone.”
The secretive nature around which aero-package will be selected implies that Porsche may be going for an unconventional route and installing the Le Mans-spec aero for the season opener. This would not be unexpected from Porsche as they ran the same option in 2014. However, for the past few years they have opted for the high-downforce kit for the opening round at Silverstone.
With Toyota Motorsport GmbH‘s impressive performance at Le Mans last year and with Toyota being their only rival in the LMP1-H field for this season, it would make sense for Porsche to want to get a head start on their Le Mans challenger to give them the best chance of taking the overall win.
There are also a few more advantages for Porsche to run the Le Mans aero package at Silverstone, and that is due to the new aero-package regulations for the 2017 season. Within the new rules, the specification of an aero kit is frozen for the remainder of the season after being homologated ahead of its first race. The advantage for Porsche to install their Le Mans aero kit for Silverstone comes from the fact that Toyota has already confirmed they will be running their high-downforce aero kit for Silverstone.
What this means is that, after Le Mans when Toyota revert back to the high-downforce kit to accommodate for the many F1 circuits that make up the second half of the season, they will not be able to make any developments to it as its design will have been locked in in Silverstone. Porsche however, would be able to develop and tweak the high-downforce package ahead of the second half of the season with no restrictions, so long as they apply the Le Mans aero kit for Silverstone.
But a low-downforce package at Silverstone, also a Formula One circuit, also has its disadvantages. Toyota’s technical director Pascal Vasselon told Autosport: “[Le Mans aero at Silverstone] would be a massive compromise because a pure low-downforce package would struggle.”
The teams are restricted to two aero kits this season, where last year they had three. The reduction has come as an attempt to reduce costs for the LMP1 teams, the same reason that the hours allowed in wind tunnels has been reduced as well.
Before their withdrawal from the sport, Audi Sport was intending on running their Le Mans aero kit at Silverstone this year to give them a headstart in Le Mans development. Their hesitance at revealing which kit will be used could indicate that Porsche has decided to follow Audi’s plan.