Modified Porsche LMP1 car breaks Spa lap record

Lewis Hamilton's 2017 Formula 1 pole lap time has been eclipsed by 0.7 seconds thanks to the unrestricted Evo – but how does it compare with historic times?

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A modified Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 car has broken the unofficial lap record of Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit, beating Lewis Hamilton’s 2017 Formula 1 pole lap by 0.783 seconds.

Neel Jani, who won both the 2016 World Endurance Championship and that season’s Le Mans with Porsche, set a 1m 41.770s time in the 919 Hybird ‘Evo’ around the 4.35-mile Belgian Grand Prix venue.

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Maxing out at 223mph and setting a 153mph average, he beat Hamilton’s 1m42.553s benchmark and was also 12 seconds faster than the pole lap set by the regular WEC-eligible 919 Hybrid last season.

Since Porsche’s withdrawal from the WEC, the 919 Hybrid has undergone a series of upgrades before setting the record. The 2.0-litre V4 engine has been uprated to 720bhp, a boost of 220bhp over the 500bhp set by LMP1 fuel flow restrictions. The hybrid system has also received a 40bhp increase over standard. Combined, the ‘Evo’ runs with 1160bhp.

A new larger front diffuser to balance a much enlarged rear wing, both of which feature active drag reduction systems, boost downforce levels by 53 percent. The loss of air-conditioning, a windscreen wiper, lights and the pneumatic jacks has dropped the weight by 39kg to 849kg.

In-race Spa lap records

  • 8.761-mile Old circuit (1939-78) 3m13.4s (Henri Pescarolo, Matra, 1973)
  • 4.33-mile New circuit with original Bus Stop chicane (1981–1993, 1995–2003) 1m47.176s (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2002)
  • 4.352-mile New circuit with revised Bus Stop chicane (2007-onwards) 1m46.577s (Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2017)

Jani said: ‘The 919 Evo is brutally impressive. It is definitely the fastest car I ever drove. The grip level is at a fully new dimension for me, I couldn’t imagine this amount beforehand.

‘Today I knew on the very first lap in the morning that the car’s performance was super.’

Head of the project Stephen Mitas added: ‘It was kind of an engineer’s dream come true for us.

‘Having developed, improved and raced the car for four years, the guys had a very close relationship to it. We all knew, no matter how successful the 919 Hybrid was, it could never show its full abilities. Actually even the Evo version doesn’t fully exploit the technical potential. This time we were not limited by regulations but resources. It is a very satisfying feeling that what we’ve done to the car was enough to crack the Formula 1 record.’

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