Endurance test by Porsche Penske Motorsport in Spain: Sebastian Vettel in Porsche 963

Four-time Formula 1® world champion Sebastian Vettel successfully tested the Porsche 963 at Motorland Aragón in Spain. The German completed a total of 118 laps over a total of 361 miles in two double stints. For Vettel, it was the first racetrack test with a hybrid prototype in the LMDh configuration. Porsche Penske Motorsport is preparing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 15 - 16 with an endurance test on the 3.32-mile (5.345-kilometer) circuit near Alcañiz in Spain.

Sebastian Vettel prepared meticulously for his stint with the Porsche 963 hybrid prototype. On March 14, the 53-time Formula 1® race winner visited the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) team at the Porsche Penske Motorsport facility in Mannheim, Germany. One day later, the German driver completed an extensive simulator session at the Porsche Motorsport Center in Flacht, Germany and familiarized himself with the special features and complex controls of the Le Mans race car. This was followed on March 21 by his first real world laps with the Porsche 963 on the in-house test track at the Weissach Development Center where Porsche Motorsport is based. In dry weather with track temperatures between 68 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 – 25 degrees Celsius) and 50 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit air temperature, the F1 champion completed almost two Grand Prix distances at the Aragón track without any problems.

"Of course, I also keep an eye on other motorsport disciplines and know many drivers who are active in the WEC and Le Mans. At some point, my curiosity was so great that I had the idea of trying it out myself. Porsche gave me the opportunity to test a current hypercar with the 963," says Sebastian Vettel. "After the seat adjustment, the simulator session and the roll-out in Weissach, I already had a good feeling. Driving the Porsche 963 on the track here in Aragón – that was definitely fun. I first had to get used to everything and find my rhythm. The driving experience is different simply because of the roof over your head, as well as dealing with the higher weight and the tires. The Porsche works drivers were very helpful and explained to me what was special and what I needed to get used to. That made it easy for me."

The Porsche Penske Motorsport works team has won both the season opener of the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the 24 Hours At Daytona, and this year's first race of the FIA WEC season in Qatar with the 680 HP Porsche 963. Porsche is seeking a record extending 20th overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. There, as at the other rounds of the WEC, the entire starting field has relied on a biofuel since March 2022.

"Aragón is one of the few places in Europe where we can run around the clock. It gives us an opportunity to run 36 hours straight in preparation for Le Mans. The quite long back straight that gives us the top speed of more than 186 mph (300 kph) we see on the Circuit des 24 Heures," said Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport. "Having Sebastian Vettel here is a unique opportunity for the team. He is a four-time Formula 1 World Champion. He has massive experience with hybrid systems and high-performance racing cars. Having his fresh unique perspective on where the car is and gives feedback on our systems and performances is a unique opportunity. We are happy to have him here. He came out of the car with a smile which is all good."

In addition to Vettel, a total of seven Porsche factory drivers will take part in the endurance test. Matt Campbell (Australia), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) will share the Porsche 963 with car number 5 in the WEC, while Kévin Estre (France), André Lotterer (Germany) and Laurens Vanthoor will drive the sister car with the number 6. They will be joined in Aragón by reigning DTM champion Thomas Preining from Austria.

Related Content