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Porsche reveals new 919 Hybrid to defend WEC, Le Mans titles

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Porsche has unveiled its new 919 Hybrid LMP1 car ahead of its bid to defend both its FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans titles from 2016.

Porsche enjoyed a second straight sweep of endurance racing’s top titles in 2016, with the No. 2 trio of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb taking both the drivers’ championship and overall victory at Le Mans.

The win at Le Mans came in the most dramatic of circumstances, with Toyota’s heartbreaking loss with just one lap to go handing an unlikely victory to the trio.

Only Jani remains for 2017 after both Dumas and Lieb were relocated within Porsche’s motorsport structure, with 2015 Le Mans winner Nick Tandy and ex-Audi racer Andre Lotterer linking up with Jani.

There is also movement in Porsche’s second car following Mark Webber’s retirement, with Tandy’s fellow 2015 Le Mans victor Earl Bamber getting a full-season seat.

Ahead of the start of the two-day collective ‘Prologue’ test at Monza in Italy, Porsche revealed its new 919 Hybrid on Friday, coinciding with rival LMP1 outfit Toyota’s launch.

“Each and every one of the nine endurance races presents a challenge. Reliability is the basic requirement; six hours of navigating around the many cars in the different categories, each driving at different speeds, makes each race unpredictable – and ultimately it is often only seconds that separate the winner from the rest of the field,” Porsche LMP vice-president Fritz Enzinger said.

“At four times the duration of the other races, Le Mans forms the pinnacle of the series. This 24-hour race pushes both men and machine to their absolute limits.

“Toyota is set to be a very strong contender in the top-tier LMP1 category for the 2017 season. We will face up to them with a meticulously enhanced Porsche 919 Hybrid and a team of six first-class drivers.”

Team principal Andreas Seidl explained the technical changes to the 919 Hybrid, saying: “For the 2017 season, 60 to 70 per cent of the vehicle is newly developed. The basic concept of the 919 Hybrid still offers scope to optimize the finer details and further boost efficiency.

“The monocoque has remained unchanged since 2016, but the optimisation potential of all other components was analysed and, in most cases, adjustments made accordingly.”

The new WEC season kicks off with the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 16.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.