After racing Audi LMP1 cars for eight years, Andre Lotterer makes the switch to Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship this season, and says moving to the new team hasn’t been too much of a challenge.
The three-time Le Mans winner has formed part of Porsche’s new-look LMP1 lineup following Audi’s withdrawal from the series, and joins Neel Jani and Nick Tandy in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid.
His new career at Porsche kicks off this weekend at the season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone.
“It’s a great brand to be with, a very mythical and legendary brand,” Lotterer told Sportscar365.
“The team is rather new, let’s say, compared to what Audi was, after 18 years. For me it was a good opportunity to stay in WEC, and it’s new.
“It’s a beginning for me here. I’ve been very nicely welcomed, and I’ve done a lot of testing and now it’s the race.”
The 35-year-old German admitted that leaving Audi after so long was very difficult, but that he used the off-season to try and put it behind him.
“[It was] initially not so easy because they have been like family,” Lotterer said. “I felt at home there, and I had a great thing going on with my teammates.
“I made sure I processed all that before I came here for the first race and now I’m looking into the future.”
However, he did also say that adjusting to the Porsche 919 Hybrid after so long in the Audi R18 has been a real challenge over the past few months.
“It’s been OK,” he said. “I was surprised that it’s really quite different to the Audi, although they have very equal performance in a way, and the same rules, just a different concept.
“But a lot of things have been quite different.”
Another challenge for Lotterer was adjusting to having new co-drivers in Jani and Tandy.
This came as a real shock to the German after partnering Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler for every season since the WEC’s inception in 2012, and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans every year since 2010.
“For sure it will never be what it was with Ben and Marcel, because that was very special and unique, and it took years to develop that,” Lotterer explained.
Nevertheless, Lotterer spoke very highly of his new co-drivers, which include a reigning champion in Jani.
“Here, it’s the beginning, but I think Neel’s character and Nick as well is pretty nice and easy to get on with,” he said.
“We understand we need to work as a team. I like both of them, and we’ve been having a good time already, but it’s early stage.
“We’re not pushing it and stressing ourselves to try to be best buddies, because it has to be natural.”
For the race this afternoon, Lotterer echoed the feelings of the team over the weekend, admitting that a win was likely out of reach owing to Porsche’s aero strategy ahead of Le Mans.
“At least we knew before we came here that we were not going to be competitive,” he said. “It was a bit hard to gauge by how much, and obviously on one-lap performance it’s quite a lot, so let’s see in the long runs.
“But for sure we don’t have enough downforce for Silverstone and it’s a strategic approach from the team to develop the aero packages for as long as possible and come up with a high-downforce package after Le Mans for Nürburgring.
“At Le Mans, we will have the correct package, and at Spa, what we have here shouldn’t be too bad because you need downforce at Spa but not as much as here.
“I guess P3 might sound boring but it’s the best we can do, I guess.”