What’s it like to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid? Nick Tandy tells us…
On his debut as a fully-fledged Porsche factory driver this year, Nick Tandy helped his Porsche North America Racing team to victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona.
He followed that up with stand out performances in the FIA WEC’s Silverstone Six Hours as well as the season-closing Petit Le Mans. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a test in the Porschw 919 Hybrid LMP1 car, alongside his fellow 911 RSR teammates.
Talking to Total 911, Nick answered our questions about jumping behind the wheel of Weissach’s fastest and most complex racing car ever:
Total 911: The obvious question is how does the 919 compare to your normal experience in the 911 RSR?
Nick Tandy: There’s a big gap in lap time and the speed and acceleration is just mind blowing, but actually once you get over the initial shock of the power it’s not that much different to drive than the RSR.
It’s massively impressive as a machine and a race car, but it is still a race car with four contact patches, a steering wheel and two (rather than three) pedals. It was good though, by far and away the fastest car I’ve ever driven!
Did it take you long to adapt your driving style for the higher downforce of the 919?
It takes time to find the last few percent because you’re not used to it, however it’s not that long since I was in F3 and those cars had a lot of downforce. The 919 is much heavier than a formula car thanks to all the hybrid systems, so you have to be careful with your inputs at lower speeds, but it reacts similarly in the high speed stuff. You just get there a lot quicker!
How did you get on with all the systems in the 919? It’s Porsche’s most complex racer and the steering wheel alone looks like a lot to take in…
One of the most impressive parts of the car and the test was that Porsche has made this car, with all it’s technology and complexity, and it can all be set up and programmed so that even a newbie driver with limited knowledge can jump in and operate the car to a competitive level.
Of course, we didn’t use the full range of options that the driver can play with during our limited laps, but the engineers can program different engine and hybrid system (and other) maps into the car and a lot of it is automated for the driver. The steering wheel does look complicated but actually you soon get used to what is what.
When we first talked back in February, you said you wouldn’t push for a race seat in the 919. Has this test changed your mind? Or would you rather stay in the GT team?
Le Mans is the biggest race in the world. I’m not sure you’ll meet any driver that would say he’d not like the opportunity to win that race overall, so yes, I’ve shown my interest in the 919 project.
At the end of the day I race for Porsche Motorsport so I will go wherever my bosses ask me to. I love my GT racing and the competition within it, and I love my current role in the US.
Were the LMP1 team impressed by your performance in the test?
I’d like to think so, yes. I think it surprised a few people, but not all. We didn’t get invited to test the car for no reason. Marc Lieb and others before have shown that a good GT driver is a good driver.
It’s good to know that it’s not just the Porsche America team, or the WEC GT team, or just 911 fans that appreciate what we’re doing, but the whole of Porsche Motorsport.