Porsche picked up where it left off at the end of last year’s FIA World Endurance Championship season by leading all three sessions on the opening day of collective testing at Paul Ricard in France.
The beginning of the WEC Prologue saw Porsche go head-to-head with LMP1 rivals Toyota and Audi on-track for the first time in 2016.
Porsche hit the ground running with the updated 919 Hybrid car to lead the majority of the day, the fastest time eventually being set by Neel Jani.
Jani recorded a best lap of 1:37.487 to finish eight-tenths of a second clear of Toyota’s Kazuki Nakajima in second place, finishing just one-quarter of a second behind the fastest time from 2015.
Audi failed to put up much of a challenge to the leading two manufacturers as it encountered a number of problems with the new R18 car.
Andre Lotterer suffered a stoppage during the final two-hour night-time session that brought Audi’s day to an early end, while an issue had also sidelined the German marque during the afternoon running.
In LMP2, Strakka Racing set the pace in the afternoon session, recording a best lap of 1:46.976 that would go unbeaten when night fell to leave the British team at the top of its class for day one.
The new AF Corse no. 51 driver pairing of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado quickly got to work with the new Ferrari 488 GTE as they led the GTE Pro class, while the Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette was quickest in GTE Am.
The Prologue continues on Saturday at Paul Ricard with another two sessions.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.