Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl has proclaimed that 2016 produced some of the best sports car races seen to date, with the German manufacturer ending up with a sweep of the Drivers and Manufacturers’ World Championships for the second consecutive year.
Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb took home the FIA World Endurance Championship, thanks to their last-gasp win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, combining with the 2015 championship-winning trio of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard for six wins in nine races.
“The manufacturers championship combined with the Le Mans victory and the drivers’ title… this is all you can dream of for two seasons in a row now,” Seidl told Sportscar365.
“It also confirmed we’ve made the right decisions in terms of the car concept for this year. With the updates we made, we knew we made a good step again. We also knew the competition would come closer at the same level with the huge updates they did.
“But I think our benefit was that we could base this year’s car on an known concept. This gave us, in the end, a car that was competitive in every single race.
“Most of the races we had superior pace. At the same time, we had the reliability from the first race onwards.
“This combined with very good performance from our six drivers, plus a sensational performance from the team, in terms of pit stops, which have been the reference all year, and also in terms of strategy, we did the best job.”
While Porsche rolled out an updated version of its 919 Hybrid this year, both Audi and Toyota debuted all-new cars, which as Seidl said, proved to make a key difference over the course of the year.
Audi struggled with reliability issues for much of the season with its R18, while the Toyota TS050 Hybrid showed the ultimate pace only on a few occasions, including at Le Mans, where it missed out on the win due to a last-lap engine issue.
However, Seidl admitted both manufacturers stepped up their game significantly this year.
“The races we’ve seen this year, I think have been some of the best sports car races ever,” he said. “To be in a position to win six of the [nine] races and to win these championships is something that makes every single member of the team very, very proud.”
The 2016 season may end up being looked back upon as the high point for LMP1, with Audi departing and next year’s battle being reduced to a two-way fight between Porsche and Toyota.
Seidl revealed that they used Audi’s endurance racing success as a benchmark, years before its arrival into the LMP1 ranks in 2014.
“I remember in 2012/2013, Audi was the reference for us,” he said. “We went to many, many races just watching them, analyzing the equipment they had, their procedures, their strategy and decisions. It was our goal to reach that [level] as a team.
“To be able to win races against them is obviously something which makes you very happy as a team because you’ve had a fight with the best one.”
As for the level of competition next year, Seidl said Audi’s exit will not let them back down one bit, with Toyota expected to come back stronger with an updated version of its all-new 2016-spec car.
“Our task is to make sure we put a car on the grid from Silverstone onwards which is able to win races,” he said. “Our target is to beat Toyota as many times as possible. This is what we’re working for at the moment. So it doesn’t change the daily business.
“But at the same time, for sure it’s a great loss to not have Audi there anymore, especially after the great seasons we’ve had together. It’s like that and you have to face it as it is. But as a team it doesn’t change anything for us.”