The Porsche LMP1 Team were happy with the opening day of practice in Shanghai, despite title rivals Toyota GAZOO Racing outpacing them in both sessions. Tyre comparison, set-up work and qualifying simulations were all worked on over the two practices, with the Porsche 919 Hybrids showing strong pace over longer periods as opposed to single laps.
After a delay due to a radio communication problem between race control and the marshals and medical staff around the circuit, the 90-minute session got under way, Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Nick Tandy recorder the faster time of the two cars with a lap time of 1:47.414, ahead of Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley with a time of 1:47.637.
Second practice saw the #2 car finish third behind the two Toyota’s with a time of 1:45.269 while the #1 car recorded a best time of 1:45.616 to finish in fourth place.
New Zealander Hartley returns to the cockpit of the Porsche 919 Hybrid after racing for Scuderia Toro Rosso for the last two Formula 1 races, he’s glad to be back in familiar surroundings, “It is nice to be back in the 919 and it is going pretty smooth so far. But it is only free practice and the competition looks strong.” said the Kiwi.
Earl Bamber added, “Friday has been good. It was nice for me to do the first session and the car was good on the longer runs. Toyota was definitely faster in the qualifying simulation, so we’ve got a little bit of work to do, but I’m sure we can still challenge for pole.”
“Today was quite an intense working day.” said Timo Bernhard. “The competition is pretty close. We still have some work to do, but we will manage that. Off line on the track there is a lot of rubber that you don’t want to pick up. So you have to manage traffic with care.”
Swiss driver Jani concentrated on simulating a race-stint during his time in the car, and is fully aware of the task ahead of him this weekend, “At the end of FP2 at 5pm it was pretty dark, so this will be the same for the final stages of the race.
“I have been simulating a race-stint and did a tyre comparison. It was interesting but not easy. Clever racing is required here because there is lots of rubber off line you can pick up. Even if the traffic should be less of a problem because of the track length, it is still easy to significantly lose time. At the end of the long straights the LMP2 cars are actually quicker than us. To handle these situations in the race might be tricky.”
André Lotterer was suprised at how little time there was between the two practice sessions, due to the earlier delay. “Time was pretty tight between the two sessions.” he said. “Therefore our qualifying simulation felt a bit like a jump-start. But we have tried various tyres und will now continue race preparations.”
Brit Nick Tandy added, “It was good to have some dry running again after all the wet sessions of Fuji and it is always enjoyable to feel the 919 in high downforce and high grip conditions.”
Porsche LMP Team Principal, Andreas Seidl was happy with what his team had achieved over the two sessions. “It was a very normal Friday for us. We completed our programme with both cars. Aside from testing different car set-ups and tyre compounds we did a qualifying simulation early in FP2. We gathered lots of data and in terms of pace we want to make a step forward tomorrow.”