The FIA WEC Driver Adviser Yannick Dalmas was offered a unique opportunity during the Rookie test in Bahrain to sample both the Porsche 919 Hybrid and Toyota TS050.
The four time Le Mans 24 Hours winner for Dauer Porsche, McLaren, BMW and Peugeot last drove a contemporary prototype racer in 2002 at the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Team Goh Audi R8.
“It has been a long time since I drove a prototype and I was very grateful to both Porsche and Toyota for the incredible opportunity.”
This was no joy ride though, Dalmas wisely concluding that his frame of reference when dealing with driver-related incidents in future FIA WEC races would be improved by experiencing the in-car and on-track environment for the factory LMP1 drivers with a debrief on the cards back to the FIA on a range of safety related issues.
“It was a really good and very interesting experience. It was good to experience what the drivers need to do. Today the drivers need to listen to the engineers input on the radio all the time to adjust the cars. The fuel cuts (to assure the required levels of efficiency) managing the hybrid system, you have to adapt your driving style and work very closely with your engineer.
“In my time we didn’t have the same levels of driving assistance, that’s not to say it is easy for the drivers, it now requires a big training, physical training, and mental preparation, playing on a computer would be a help. That’s because you have far more things to do than I had 15 years ago.
“In engineering you don’t just deal with your engineer, but maybe also the input of 10 or more others in the background with a fantastic amount of data – they will tell you for instance that if you brake a little early you can recover maybe 10% of energy recovery
“Driving is not enough today, you have to be on another level.”
And how much quicker do you think you could be with more practice in these cars.
“I would need maybe two days just with the cars and the engineers not on track to learn more about the way the car operates. Then maybe two or three days on track to make a step.”
How much of the cars systems could you learn before driving?
“I wanted only to learn the basics of the cars before driving because I didn’t want to break my brain!”
And were the cars today fun to drive?
(with a twinkle in the eye”) “YES!”