New Porsche hypercar could use F1-spec hybrid powertrain

Jonathon Ramsey
Autoblog

Not long after the Porsche 918 Spyder went out of production in 2015, the automaker began internal debate about what kind of powertrain it would use in the follow-up. Four years later, the debate is ongoing. In 2017, Porsche voiced its desire to move its hypercar game on with a battery-electric powertrain, beyond the hybrid 918. The problem — echoed by McLaren — was that battery technology wouldn't make such a BEV possible until at least the middle of the 2020s. In 2019, the same issues remain, with solid-state battery tech not progressing as quickly as hoped. Autocar reports that Porsche could switch to Plan B in the meantime, that being an as-yet-unused 1.6-liter V6 hybrid engine Porsche Motorsport developed in order to return to Formula One as an engine supplier.

Porsche has been mentioned as a potential new F1 entrant for years, but uncertainty at the Volkswagen Group and in the F1 rulebook compelled the German sports car maker to walk away from the opportunity, opting for Formula E instead. However, after leaving LMP1, 40 Porsche engineers from the Le Mans effort began working on a six-cylinder version of the 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid from the 919 Hybrid. That work turned into the creation of a 1.6-liter V6 hybrid along the lines of an F1 engine but without "the complex and expensive" MGU-H unit that converts exhaust heat into electrical energy. Motorsport chief Fritz Enzinger says that engine is still in development, having got as far as running on a test bench for "analysis with regard to series production relevance."

There's no info on the hybrid component yet, but Stefan Weckbach, who oversees Porsche's EV projects, said the company could turn to its partnership with Rimac for that aspect.

Even though Porsche has a motor ready, the board hasn't decided on whether to go electric or hybrid, and sports car boss Frank-Steffen Walliser says he doesn't care what kind of powertrain goes into the car as long as it can tick off a 6:30 lap time at the Nürburgring. So according to Autocar, what kind of bodywork might surround this powertain "remains at conceptual stage, with an introduction unlikely before 2023 at the earliest." We don't think the 917 Concept from 2014 would be a bad place to start. If Porsche goes with the 1.6-liter hybrid, though, the market would get a clearer competitor to the Mercedes-AMG One, and the platform could provide entries to the ACO's new so-called Hypercar class in the World Endurance Championship and to IMSA's Daytona Prototype class. 

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