With three overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 car was already going to go down in history as one of the best racecars of the modern era.
And after setting a frankly crazy record set this week, the 919 Hybrid just became even more iconic.
The now-retired racecar put another accomplishment on its resume Monday after Porsche proved it can be faster than an F1 car. In the hands of driver Neel Jani, the 919 Hybrid Evo lapped Spa Francorchamps in a scarcely believable 1:41.770, beating Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton’s 2017 Belgian Grand Prix pole lap from last year by 0.783 seconds.
Without the FIA’s rulebook dictating how much performance it has, Porsche was able to develop the 919 Hybrid to its full potential. The 2.0-liter turbocharged V4 engine’s output was boosted from 500 hp to 720 hp, while the two electric energy recovery systems had capacity raised from 6.37 megajoules to 8.49.
Engineers also fitted a deeper front splitter and a massive rear wing to the 919 ‘Evo’. The front splitter and rear wing benefit from an electronically operated drag reduction system, which flips the components into a position that reduces their aerodynamic effect and allows for better acceleration and top speed. Porsche says the aerodynamic channels underneath the car were optimized for improved downforce as well. All told, the 919 Hybrid Evo makes 53 percent more downforce than the race-spec 919 Hybrid.
Boosting power and downforce was only the start. The automaker fitted a four-wheel brake-by-wire system to the car, which can be more easily tuned for optimal yaw control. With so much extra downforce on tap, Porsche was also forced to beef up the suspension to handle higher loads and retune the power steering. Tire supplier Michelin developed some unique tires for the car as well, which can easily handle F1 speeds but fit on the 919 Hybrid without having to make modifications. Finally, Porsche stripped about 85 lbs of weight from the 919 by removing the air conditioning, windscreen wipers, race control sensors, exterior lighting and air jack system.
The Spa record was only the beginning. Porsche plans to blow race fans’ minds with the speed of the 919 Hybrid Evo at a number of racetracks this year, including Brands Hatch and Laguna Seca. It will also perform a demo run in the car on the daunting Nurburgring Nordschleife ahead of the Nurburgring 24 Hour race in May.
For now, you can get an idea of just how fast this modified racer truly is in the video below.