Anthony Davidson was the second driver to climb into the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid for the LMP qualifying session yesterday. The Brit helped put the #8 second on the grid for the 6 Hours of Silverstone at the opening round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship behind the sister car #7. The Porsche entries could not get close to the pace set by the Japanese manufacturer, with the fastest Porsche setting an average lap time 1.3 seconds off that of the pole sitting Toyota. It looked easy for Toyota in qualifying but Davidson assures that will not be the case in the race.
Davidson was very happy with the pace and performance produced by the Toyota in qualifying, telling Speed Chills that the 2017 Toyota is “The best the car has ever been in Silverstone.” He felt that the car was hooked up perfectly and “Doing pretty much everything I wanted.”
In response to the incredible lap time of 1:36.793 set by #7 Toyota driver Kamui Kobayashi, Davidson said they were “really surprised” by the lap time the Japanese driver produced from the car.
“They had a slightly different option to downforce than we did and I think it probably paid off for the better in qualifying.” Davidson explained as to why they could only put the #8 two-tenths slower than the #7. However, his comment hinted that he feels the #8 set up is more beneficial in the race and so they may get the advantage back on the sister car in the six-hour endurance race.
Although Porsche was not a threat in qualifying, Davidson was keen not to write them off in the race. “They’re definitely going to be closer in the race than they were in qualifying.” he stated confidently. “This has never been a strong circuit for us [Toyota] in terms of how we use our hybrid system. Our system is a kinetic system only whereas the Porsche system lends itself a bit better to this kind of track where you don’t get much kinetic recovery. They rely more on their turbo for the heat recovery than we can do around here.
“We are expecting them to be closer but we’re still unsure about how its going to pan out in terms of the double stint. How we’re going to use the tyres compared to them. Under the normal circumstances, you’d say we use the tyres better than them, we’d be able to eek out more life in our tyres than them because running more down force should keep the surface of the tyre in better condition, putting less friction through them, we don’t know.
“One thing is for sure, they’re going to be closer in the race.”
When it comes down to the six-hour endurance race it could be a battle of the hybrids rather than low downforce aero vs high. Porsche have had similar lap times to Toyota in their long runs so it should be an exciting six hours of racing.