Posted Dec 11th 2013 5:00PM
With the Formula One season – and indeed his entire F1 career – now behind him, Mark Webber took advantage of his early release from Red Bull Racing to try out the new LMP1 which Porsche is developing, undertaking the final test session of 2013 before Porsche throws it head first into the FIA World Endurance Championship next April. The session – which followed previous tests at Magny-Cours, Monza, Paul Ricard and the Eurospeedway at Lausitz – was held at the Algarve circuit in Portimão, Portgual, in collaboration with Michelin, which is developing the tires for the car. But that's hardly the news here.
No, the news is the first confirmation we've seen on the type of powertrain Porsche has developed for its new Le Mans prototype: a gasoline-burning four-cylinder engine with direct injection and two energy recovery systems. This contrasts sharply with the V6 turbodiesel and single electric motor used by Audi in the R18 e-tron Quattro (or at least the outgoing version) or the naturally-aspirated V8 and single electric motor found in the Toyota TS030. Flexibility in the rules set down by the FIA and ACO give the manufacturers that kind of latitude, prompting F1 teams like Ferrari and Renault to consider developing their new engines for Le Mans prototypes as well.
At this point Porsche isn't saying how large its four-cylinder engine is or how much power it will produce. But it'll be interesting, to say the least, to see how it fares against the Audi and Toyota in next year's championship and at Le Mans when it'll be piloted by Webber, former Lola LMP1 driver Neel Jani and Audi's own 2011 Le Mans-winning pair of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard.