August 03, 2017 at 08:15 pm
Porsche on Friday announced they were pulling the plug on the World Endurance Championship’s top LMP1 category to focus on Formula E from 2019.
The German car manufacturer’s move comes weeks after they captured their 19th Le Mans 24 Hour title
Porsche director Michael Steiner explained: “For us, Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency and sustainability.”
WEC’s French-based organisers ACO issued an emotional statement deploring the “sudden and brutal” decision to pull out taken by “a constructor crowned with endurance racing’s top titles”.
Porsche are following the route travelled by Audi, the 13-time Le Mans winners who turned their back on endurance racing for Formula E last October.
And on Monday, Mercedes announced they were ending their involvement in the DTM German touring car series next year to line up on the Formula E grid from 2019.
Porsche’s switch to the fledgling electric racing scene leaves Toyota, still seeking their first Le Mans win, as the only manufacturer in LMP1, placing its future in serious doubt.
Porsche said that although they were quitting LMP1 they would continue to compete their iconic 911 in the WEC’s GT category.
Last month Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley steered Porsche to a third consecutive Le Mans victory and 19th in total.
Formula E, the world’s first electric racing series, was launched in 2014 and the technology is still evolving.
Even in a race that only lasts 50 minutes, drivers have to swap cars halfway because their batteries won’t go the distance.
Former F1 driver Sebastien Buemi is the defending champion.