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TANDY: Silverstone Debrief

Nick Tandy files his first column for Sportscar365…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

In the end it was a pretty successful weekend for Porsche as a whole. To come away with the lead in the manufacturers’ points championship, it’s a good start to the season, and we finished both cars on the podium, which is realistically one place higher up than we might have expected.

We come away from it happy with the results and the performance of the car, and excited for the future races.

We were looking to have as clean of a race as possible, and the strategy going into the race was to make sure that we were in it for the whole duration with both cars.

The plan was to hope for wet conditions to mix things up, and to hope for safety cars to bunch things up. We knew we didn’t have the ultimate pace to match Toyota, and we knew we needed to be operationally 100 percent.

Through the various parts of the race that played out with the rain and the safety car, we even had a chance to win at the end. It was definitely a good result for us, and better than expected, given the circumstances that we’d given ourselves strategy-wise.

It’s disappointing to know that you’re going to your home race and you haven’t got all your weapons as sharp as they possibly could be, but at the same time we all know with how the WEC races go, and especially how Silverstone is with changing weather conditions, that we always had a chance.

It’s always fun to drive a track like Silverstone in one of these cars, because they’re so fast and the track is so fast, every lap is a thrill.

I think the thing I took in most was driving around the circuit after the flag had dropped, and having a chance to look around and see all the fans waving.

It was great to see my local fellow sports car enthusiasts and it’s good to stand there on the podium and see them all waving from the stands.

Our car was a lot better than I was expecting. It was the first time I’ve driven a 919 with downforce added onto it. When we raced in 2015 at Spa and Le Mans, it was always in low-drag Le Mans configuration.

All of the testing that I’ve done with the team has always been around the endurance running that we’ve done, with the car always based around the Le Mans configuration. And in all the pre-season tests, we were always running in low-drag spec.

This is the first time I’ve actually driven the car when we’ve purposefully tried to have as much downforce on as possible.

It was really pleasing for me to go out there on the Friday morning and see just how much we can add with our low-downforce configuration. But it comes with the downside of drag, and it isn’t the most efficient way to get downforce.

That was one of the things that stood out to me, just how good and how much grip we had with the car.

Silverstone has given us a lot of hope for Spa, just as a starter. It’s a track where generally you take a bit of downforce off and go for top-speed.

Of course how efficient a high-downforce kit becomes when you take downforce off, compared to when you’ve got your low-downforce kit and try to add a bit of downforce to it, is yet to be seen.

There’s two ways of looking at it; Toyota might benefit from coming at it the opposite way, but then again we might benefit by adding downforce but not so much drag as we did for Silverstone.

It should be even tighter – it’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to it.

We knew that Silverstone would be our biggest compromise of the year, and that Spa would always be better for us, and of course Le Mans is a clean sheet for both manufacturers.

Then of course when we get to the Nürburgring we can apply our high-downforce package and restart from there. The plan was always damage-limitation at Silverstone, and pick up pieces where we can, which is what we did.

For the rest of the season we should be firing fully on all cylinders.

Nick Tandy (@NickTandyR) is the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours winner and Porsche LMP1 factory driver, driving for the German manufacturer in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

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