Webber gets early Porsche test drive

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IOL mot pic dec11 Porsche Mark Webber 1

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Mark Webber tries out the cockpit of the Porsche LMP1 endurance racer for the first time.

Mark Webber got an early opportunity to check out his new 'office' during the final Porsche LMP1 test of 20103 at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve near Portimão, although he's officially still under contract to the Red Bull Formula One team until 31 December.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner graciously agreed to the test drive and Webber joined the rest of the 2014 Porsche World Endurance Championship works drivers - Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, and Neel Jani - at Portimao for a series of suspension and tyre test runs with partner Michelin.

Webber commented: "My first day in this fascinating sports-car was an intense experience - I'd like to thank Red Bull for giving me the chance to join the testing so early; it allows me to integrate with the team more quickly and begin contributing to the development of the LMP1.”

"The car still has a long way to go.”

“It will take a lot of hard work - I have no misconceptions about this."

LMP1 project leader Fritz Enzinger also appreciated the goodwill shown by the Austrian F1 team.

IOL mot pic dec11 Porsche Mark Webber 2

Porsche LMP1 at fult tilt boogie during suspension and tyre testing at Portimao.

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"Between the roll-out of the completely new car in June and now, we have made significant progress," he said, "but there is still a lot to do before the start of the WEC season at Silverstone in April, so I'm delighted to have Mark in the team so early.

"Red Bull Racing has helped us considerably by allowing it!"

The works Porsche LMP1 team will run two LMP1 cars in the 2014 WEC, with the Le Mans 24 Hours as the highlight of the series.

TOP CLASS CONTENDERS

World Endurance Championship regulations stipulate that hybrid cars have to run in the highest class - Le Mans Prototypes Class 1 - which means going head to head with the fastest sports-cars on the planet, including the all-conquering Audi and Peugeot diesels.

To be competitive at that level, Porsche engineers had to think way outside the box, creating a high-performance hybrid drive that combines a direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine with two energy recuperation systems.

The recovered energy is stored in a battery until the driver needs an extra acceleration - then a powerful electric motor provides additional drive to the front axle.

However, the series rules also limit the amount of fuel the car can carry, as well as the amount of electrical energy the driver is allowed to use on any one lap - which makes fuel-efficiency almost as important as outright performance.


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