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Formula E

Porsche’s Secret Formula One Engine

Despite the brand’s long history in motorsports, Porsche’s relationship with Grand Prix racing has been full of fits and starts. The 718RSK originally competed in Formula 2 before moving to Formula 1 in 1961, where the slightly elderly car didn’t prove competitive. The 804 got the brand its sole championship race victory as a constructor with Dan Gurney at the wheel in 1962.

From there things stayed quiet for nearly two decades. Porsche focused on sports and GT racing, and ignored the world of open wheel cars entirely. Porsche returned in 1983 as an engine builder in partnership with TAG, and powered two constructor and three driver championships in the mid-1980s. With the rule changes of the early 1990s, the brand appeared very briefly in 1991 with an overweight V12, and failed to even qualify for more than half the races in 1991.

Where Porsche left top-tier endurance racing at the top of the heap and on their own terms, they left F1 in 1991 with their tail between their legs. While Porsche recently announced their return to (more-or-less) open-wheel racing with Formula E, the all-electric championship wasn’t their only prospective race series. According to Motorsport.com’s interview with Fritz Enzinger, plans were in the works for a Porsche Formula 1 entry:

“In 2017 there were signals from Formula 1 that the regulations were to be changed and that energy recovery from the exhaust gases [the MGU-H] was no longer required,” [Enzinger] said.

“As of 2017, Porsche was a member of the FIA Manufacturers Commission and was involved in the discussions about the future drive strategy in Formula 1 from 2021 and represented at the meetings.

“On the one hand we took part in these working groups. On the other hand the guys developed a six-cylinder for the WEC in parallel. Of course, we thought about what would have to change if the engine were to be used in Formula 1. Such things can be done in two ways.”

Though a move to FE, where Audi was also present, was an « obvious idea », Enzinger said the six-cylinder engine concept was still pursued because an F1 engine without the MGU-H would « also be interesting for a super sports car ».

« At the end of 2017, we received a concrete order from our parent company to further develop a highly efficient six-cylinder engine, despite its LMP1 withdrawal, » he said.

« Not only on paper, but actually as hardware and with the idea that this engine will be put to the test in 2019. That was the order from the board to us. »

Enzinger said its six-cylinder engine « is complete and running on the test bench » as a team of « 20 to 25 technicians » use it « for analyses and further orders with regard to series relevance. »

Porsche’s entry was set to coincide with a 2021 rule change for the series, though given the recent changes in Formula 1, Porsche’s future entry in top-tier Grand Prix racing seems to be somewhere between unlikely and impossible.

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Formula E: Testing in Spain, and Starting From Zero

For Porsche, one of the most successful brands in motorsports history, it can be hard to stay humble. In recognition of their new effort, Porsche has created a video to remind everyone that new circumstances require starting anew, not resting on their laurels and past successes. This eighty-eight second video below doesn’t tell much about the program, and hints that the brand has a lot to learn about Formula E. With just fifteen days of testing allowed before the start of the 2019-2020 season, they certainly have a lot to learn in a very short span of time.

Testing in Spain

Porsche’s Formula E car first took to the track in March for the first of 15 days of pre-season testing, and returned to the track in Spain for three days of additional testing with Brendon Hartley and Neel Jani. As we noted in our previous feature on the new car, the Porsche will share its Spark chassis with the other cars on the grid. Powertrain technology is proprietary to each team, and must not exceed 250kW plus a 10% overboost mode. Batteries must last the duration of an entire 45 minute plus-one-lap race.

While Jani felt confident following today’s tests, Porsche is remaining justifiably coy about how their car is performing. While we may not know lap times, or how the batteries are working, we can say with some certainty that the black carbon racer looks positively mean on track. This is what Jani, Brendon Hartley, Amiel Lindesay, and Malte Huneke had to say on the day’s progress:

Neel Jani (Porsche works driver, regular driver): “I feel the tests with the Porsche Formula E car at Calafat were very positive. It is hugely important to get as many kilometres as possible under our belt during the test phase for our Formula E race car and, in doing so, to gain valuable experience – particularly from a technical point of view. They have been very productive days. I am now looking forward to working with the team over the coming months, as we strive to get the very best out of the Porsche Formula E race car.”

Brendon Hartley (Porsche works driver, test and development driver): “As a test and development driver, it’s my job to support the Porsche Formula E programme with preparations for Season 6 of Formula E. My main focus has been on the simulation work in Weissach. Testing the car on track has been both an enjoyable and challenging experience. It is, of course, enjoyable to drive the car, however, contributing and working with the talented group of people at Porsche on this project is also a real pleasure. »

Amiel Lindesay (Team Manager): “We are very happy with the Porsche Formula E tests at Calafat. We completed an extensive test programme and have laid the foundations for the coming months. The data generated will form a good basis. We will now analyse it in detail to be able to prepare as well as possible for the coming test work.”

Malte Huneke (Technical Project Leader): “The findings from these tests will allow us to take a big step forward in the development of the Porsche powertrain. The primary focus in this phase of preparations is on reliability, before we then concentrate on performance at a later date. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but development is completely on track.“

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Neel Jani Completes First Test Laps For Porsche’s New Formula E Program

With Porsche’s first season in Formula E looming on the horizon this fall, it’s refreshing to finally see the car turning laps at Porsche’s testing grounds in Weissach. The 2019/2020 season entry requires a spec Spark Racing Technologies chassis—The SRT05e—but electric motor and battery technology is proprietary to each team, so long as it produces no more than 250 kW plus a 10% « attack mode » boost. The batteries must be long enough to last the entire 45 minute plus one lap race.

Porsche says its newly developed full electric powertrain passed without incident. Considering Porsche’s own Taycan road car is expected to produce at least 320kW on the top end, it’s no surprise that the motorsport engineers have been able to reliably produce a bit less for the FE car. I seriously look forward to seeing Porsche compete in this highly interesting and forward thinking series. It’s nice to see Porsche back in open wheel competition, and with electric power so important to the company, it is a no-brainer. I’m always happy to cheer for Neel Jani.

And it’s always nice to see a race car running laps in bare carbon. This thing looks like the future!

Quotes on the test day
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Porsche Motorsport): “The newly developed Porsche powertrain for Formula E completed its baptism of fire. It is an important day for everyone involved in this project. Many thanks to everyone who has poured their heart and soul into the construction of the powertrain and car in recent months and made this successful rollout possible. We still have a lot of work to do on the road to our works entry in Formula E, but an important initial step has been taken. Now we will be fully focussed as we continue to work on familiarising ourselves with the particular challenges of Formula E.”

Neel Jani (Porsche works driver): “I am very proud to have been behind the wheel the first time our Formula E racing car was driven. Being allowed to drive the rollout is not only a great honour, it is also very exciting. We’re breaking new ground. It was a fantastic feeling for me. Everyone in the team feels it: The project is really gaining momentum now. We didn’t push it to the limit during the rollout, but the powertrain and the car made a very good first impression overall. I can’t wait to get back to testing.”

Amiel Lindesay (Team Manager): “We know that we will face very tough competition in Formula E, which to some extent has more experience than us. This makes it even more important for us that we have taken the next step in development with the rollout. With each additional test, we will gain new insights and optimise the performance of the car.”

Malte Huneke (Technical Project Leader): “The development of a Formula E car fully streamlined for efficiency and lightweight construction is a great challenge for our team of engineers. Seeing the car in action for the first time gave us goose bumps. Compared with production development, the demands in terms of efficiency and weight of the powertrain in Formula E are on a very different level. Now we will approach the limit one step at a time. This will be essential to make it in Formula E.”

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Formule E : Neel Jani chez Porsche

Porsche vient de nommer son premier pilote en Formule E. Il s’agit du Suisse Neel Jani. Il faisait figure de favori parmi les candidats potentiels au poste de titulaire chez Porsche en Formule E. On retiendra donc que Neel Jani aura été le premier pilote désigné par la maison allemande qui rejoindra les concurrents de […]

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Photos de la voiture de course Porsche en Formule E

A l’occasion de la soirée annuelle Porsche Night Of Champions, la nouvelle voiture de course électrique Porsche, qui va concourir au championnat de Formule E durant la 6ème saison débutant fin 2019 a été présentée aux invités. C’est l’évènement : Porsche se lance dans un championnat de voitures de course 100 % électrique, rejoignant ainsi …

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