Porsche has yet to confirm what aero configuration its 919 Hybrids will run in next weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone, with team principal Andreas Seidl hinting they could wait until after Le Mans to debut its high-downforce package.
The German manufacturer, along with Toyota, debuted its updated LMP1 contenders in Le Mans-spec low-downforce trim in last weekend’s Prologue at Monza, but with manufacturers now only permitted only two different aero kits during the season, it’s added a new wrinkle into the strategy.
Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon has already confirmed that its TS050 Hybrids will run its high-downforce package at Silverstone, although Seidl has remained non-committal about Porsche’s approach.
“The interesting thing will be how the two manufacturers will time their kits,” Seidl said. “Who is using what at Silverstone, for example?
“In theory, you could come with the low-downforce kit up to Le Mans, sacrifice Silverstone, and have more time [to develop] a high-downforce kit and bring it for the Nürburgring.”
When asked whether this strategy is something Porsche is considering, Seidl replied, “We will see in Silverstone!”
The Porsche LMP1 boss, who has continued his dual role as the team’s technical director, admitted the reduction from three to two permitted aero kits does not drastically change things for the defending World Champions.
Porsche utilized an updated version of its 2015 post-Le Mans high-downforce aero kit in the season-opener last year, which saw Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas claim victory, albeit it following the race-winning Audi’s exclusion for a post-race technical infringement.
“Honestly I don’t think it’s a huge difference because when you look back last year, [we] had a high downforce and low downforce kit,” Seidl said.
“Last year, it was easy to just bring the high downforce kit to Silverstone because we made some minor updates on the aero kit from the year before.
“We still went for two kits in the end, with full development.”
Vasselon, meanwhile, all but confirmed Toyota’s two season-long entries will be in high downforce trim for the first two races, while running its new third entry in Le Mans aero at the Six Hours of Spa in May.
“At the moment it’s what’s likely to happen,” Vasselon told Sportscar365.
Toyota team director Rob Leupen added that having a third car for Spa will allow the Japanese manufacturer to further experiment on its aero package for the double-points paying round in June.
“At Spa, you would have one full dedicated test car for Le Mans,” he said. “This has changed from the years before. Nonetheless, you want to be successful in the WEC. The possibilities are bigger.”