The widely trailed announcement that Porsche will cease its LMP1 programme at the end of the current season has been confirmed this morning.
The now triple Le Mans winning and currently double World Championship winning 919 Hybrid programme will end after the Bahrain round of the 2017 FIA WEC.
Beginning in 2019, Porsche will compete with a factory team in the Formula E Championship.
Porsche will continue to campaign the 911 RSR in the GTE Pro class of the FIA World Endurance Championship and in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with what they describe as an increased commitment:
“A diversity of manufacturers and the quality of both WEC and IMSA have led us to strengthen our commitment and concentrate our energies on using the 911 RSR,” said Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board of Porsche AG responsible for Research and Development. “We want to be number one. To do that, we must invest accordingly.”
Porsche has also confirmed that the LMP1 team will be left intact, including the factory drivers. “Alongside ventures in other racing series and the intensive preparation for Formula E, Porsche is examining other fields of application and development areas.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President in charge of LMP1 commented, “Building up the Le Mans team from scratch was a huge challenge. Over the years, we have developed an incredibly successful and professional team. This will be our basis going forward. I am certain that we will maintain our high level in Formula E. Confidence is high, and we are excited to get started.”
Porsche then follow Audi out of LMP1 and into Formula E as VAG, (both Audi and Porsche are part of the group) rush to realign their road car strategy in the wake of the ‘Dieselgate’ affair.
Porsche meanwhile attribute this change of direction as stemming “from the direction set out for the company in Porsche Strategy 2025, which will see Porsche develop a combination of pure GT vehicles and fully electric sports cars, such as the first fully electric Porsche model, based upon the Mission E concept car.
“Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E project. The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us,” said Michael Steiner. “Porsche is working with alternative, innovative drive concepts. 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.”
He added too that Porsche has already taken the first steps toward developing its own Formula E racing car this year.
Toyota is yet to confirm plans but a full stop to the current LMP1 H programme is understood to be unlikely, although various options short of that are thought to be under consideration.