After a near storybook year, Anthony Davidson returns to his home race this weekend at Silverstone, not only looking to defend his crown in the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy, but also as the reigning FIA World Endurance Champion.
While 2015 provides a fresh start with a new car, a new full-season teammate as well as some new competition, the Englishman is still reminded of the past when he climbs into his Toyota TS040 Hybrid for each FIA WEC race this year.
“It’s nice to see the No. 1 on the car,” Davidson told Sportscar365. “I know it’s just a number but it does mean a lot because you see your achievements from last year.
“I think confidence-wise is high going into this year. I’m confident in my own abilities in what I can do in the car. I’m just going to give it everything and try and replicate what we did last year and have a shot at Le Mans once again.”
For Davidson, 2014 proved to be a career-defining year, with he and co-driver Sebastien Buemi collecting four overall wins and remarkably only finishing off the podium once.
But it was the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the one race that slipped away following an early race accident for his Toyota, that prevented Davidson and co. from arguably achieving a perfect season.
It remains a race that eludes the 35-year-old ex-Formula One driver, who has finished on the podium twice but not on the top step.
“For me, it’s Le Mans, not that you can really aim to win the race, because it’s a race that really just comes to you,” Davidson said. “But I see it as another year, another chance. Hopefully this year will be that year.”
Aiding him in his bid for overall glory at Le Mans will be Toyota’s updated TS040 Hybrid, which features the same fundamental components that took he and Buemi to the world title last year, but with refinements across the board.
It includes a slightly more powerful hybrid system, although remaining in the 6 MJ hybrid subclass for 2015.
“It’s an evolution of last year’s car,” Davidson said. “You can feel it when you’re driving it as well. It’s not a huge difference but there’s a definite step forward and we’ve been faster around every track we’ve been to so far.
“The car is well balanced. There’s been very little complaints from the drivers in terms of car balance and grip. The hybrid system has been improved as well, slightly.
“Hopefully we can have a good fight. That’s all we really want.”
Another new element for 2015 comes with the addition of Kazuki Nakajima to the No. 1 car lineup alongside Davidson and Buemi, with the Japanese driver having previously taken part in partial-season efforts in the sister car.
While Porsche has set the early benchmark with its all-new 919 Hybrid in pre-season testing, Davidson feels the threat not only from the second-year squad but also from LMP1 juggernauts Audi, particularly in the race that matters the most.
“It would feel natural to be slightly more concerned by Porsche in their second season because they would have learned so much last year,” he said. “We were still a big progression last year from them.
“But you can never, ever underestimate Audi. Le Mans is their race. They know how to win that one. They’re either incredibly good, or incredibly lucky. I still haven’t worked it out but they certainly know what they’re doing when it comes to that race and it always seems to fall their way.”
And with Le Mans being his big objective this year, Davidson knows they’ll need to not only have the speed and reliability, but also the luck in order to conquer the French endurance classic.