The 2017 6 Hours of Shanghai saw the two LMP1 World Championships (Driver’s and Manufacturer’s) go the way of Porsche for a third consecutive season. It’s been a remarkable run for Porsche LMP Team and the 919 Hybrid, which since 2015 has won all six WEC titles and three overall wins at Le Mans.
After the race, the celebrations began in the Porsche camp, the #2 crew of Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard sewing up the Driver’s World Championship, while a third place finish for the #1 aided Porsche in taking the Manufacturers honours.
For Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley, it’s their second World Championship, after the duo won the 2015 title with Mark Webber.
Doing it all again, is special for Hartley and Bernhard, who have been involved with the programme since its inaugural year in 2014, winning 12 races since the 919’s debut that year at Silverstone.
“Congrats to the #8 Toyota crew, they deserved the win today,” Hartley admitted. “But for the titles, it hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s been quite a busy few weeks for me! To share a second world championship with Timo and a first with Earl who I grew up racing with and grew up on a farm with, makes this an incredible story. It’s amazing to finish it here and be world champions again.
“Big thanks to Porsche too, they really stepped up after Le Mans. We had really strong results.”
“It’s an honour to go racing with these two gents, and Porsche, competing in the highest level of motorsport in my career,” added Bernhard. “It’s been an incredible season. This is the maximum we could have achieved. After Le Mans, we turned the car’s pace around. It was amazing. Today P2 was the maximum we could do, but that doesn’t mean we won’t strike back for Bahrain.
“It will be emotional, because the programme will come to an end, and with all those emotions it will be an amazing and sad event. I’ve spent five years on this programme. Having clinched the titles early is a relief, now we can enjoy the final race.”
For Bamber, this is an incredibly special occasion, the Kiwi winning his first world championship, and in style, after a season in which he and his teammates won the Le Mans 24 Hours, and the three further races in a row.
“It’s fantastic to be Driver’s World Champion, and to help clinch Porsche Manufacturer’s Honours here in Shanghai!” he said. “It’s been a fantastic season, I couldn’t wish for anyone else in the car, TB and Brendon have been fantastic all year. Everyone has worked so hard, especially everyone back at the factory who helped us take control after bringing in the high-downforce package during the season. It was a turning point for us pace wise. To do it in Shanghai, where I started racing with Porsche in Carrera Cup Asia is special.
“It was difficult in the race today, made tougher due to the set of tyres I destroyed in qualifying. We managed to do the whole race on three sets of tyres. We just had to stay clean, because we didn’t have the pure pace.
“We’re going to push hard in Bahrain as we don’t want Toyota to finish with more victories than us this year.”
Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy, who have fought hard all year, but not taken a single victory in the #1 919, there’s still cause for celebration tonight. They played the team game, and as a reward contributed to Porsche’s Manufacturer’s title with three second place finishes and two thirds throughout the year.
Porsche keeps winning the Manufacturer’s Championship in Shanghai, that’s a great story we’ve written here,” Jani said. “Congratulations for the #2 crew, they’ve had a great year.”
Lotterer added: “Barhain is my last chance to get a first win in LMP1 with Porsche! The Porsche guys have a really impressive operation, they have done since they’ve joined, with the same engine more or less and the same drivetrain philosophy. They’ve shown how far ahead they were, it’s impressive. We’d love to have been in that position too, but that’s racing. Hopefully Bahrain will be a happy end for us.”
Andreas Seidl, head of Porsche’s LMP1 programme was jubilant at the scale of Porsche’s achievement also, explaining that winning the titles has come as a relief for those involved.
“Congratulations to Toyota, for a stunning performance today, but congratulations to the three gentlemen who won the Driver’s Championship. It’s been a huge relief today, not just for me, but for the entire team, to get it done one race before the end.
“It wasn’t easy for everyone to stay focused since the announcement was made that we’d be stopping at the end of the year. I’m really happy with what we achieved today, a big thank you to those at home in Weissach, they did sensational work again this year, we made such a big turn after Le Mans.
“A big thanks to the race team here too, delivering with the pressure around them. And also, our six drivers this year have been a great team, there’s been stunning performances, they haven’t made many mistakes.”