With only two races left to run in the 2016 season of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the focus is now fully on the LMP1 drivers’ title.
Even though there’s only two points separating Porsche’s and Audi’s top driver crews, André Lotterer reckons it will be hard to beat Porsche.
“At the moment it doesn’t really look promising,” Lotterer told Sportscar365. “Porsche is not only faster than us over one lap, but also in the long runs.”
Porsche maintained its perfect qualifying score by scoring another 1-2 at Shanghai, with the gap to Audi even bigger than usual.
“For sure it’s going to be a tough race for us, but we never give up, we always push, and we can only hope some other race facts can influence the results in a positive way for us,” he said.
“The commitment from Audi, Porsche or Toyota to build a reliable car is very high, so you cannot really expect these cars to have problems.
“On pure performance, I can honestly say we don’t really have a shot to beat the Porsches.”
Audi has updated it car throughout the season, most recently at Fuji with new aerodynamics, which has seemingly closed its deficit to the 919 Hybrids on the Japanese track.
“The closest we’ve been (to Porsche) in the second part of the season has been at Fuji, where the aero package proved to be very efficient,” Lotterer said.
“Here at Shanghai, the 8MJ of Porsche is just an advantage. There are just too many slow speed corners with a lot of acceleration where they benefit from their hybrid power.
“Bahrain won’t be as bad, but for sure we’ll be a bit on the back foot as well.”
Given the high stakes, team orders have become a regular occurrence in the LMP1 class, both at Audi and Porsche. At Fuji, Porsche needed to command the No. 18 919 Hybrid to hand over a sure win to the No. 17 car.
“For me it’s normal, we started it at the Nürburgring,” Lotterer said. “As long as we’re allowed to do so, it will be part of the game. We would do the same for our sister car.
“But still, it’s different when you switch from P4 to P3, instead of giving up a win. It must be very bitter for them so I’m not sure they have a great atmosphere in the team right now.”
While there’s still everything to fight in the remaining two races, Audi is already hard at work on the new car for next year, which will be presented on Nov. 28 in Munich.
“We’re mainly lacking in power and hopefully this wont be the case in 2016. It’s difficult to say at the minute how it will be next year, obviously we’ll have a new car, but how it will be compared to the competition we don’t know at the moment,” he said.
“The rate of progression in this championship is really big. Toyota were leaders last year and now they are quite far behind, so they kind of misjudged the potential in the rules.
“Hopefully we’ve set the bar high enough for ourselves.”