"When you learn to ride a bicycle, and your father or your mother is behind you, and the [training wheels] are coming off and they're holding the seat—that's how this car feels. However hard you feel you're concentrating and whatever inputs you're putting into the car, it feels like the car is doing more and being cleverer."
That's the immediate reaction from Top Gear's Chris Harris upon stepping out of his first stint behind the wheel of a Porsche 919 LMP1 car. It's not what you'd expect to hear from someone who's just driven a 900-hp hybrid that's probably more complicated than any other race car on the planet.
The 919 gets its 900- hp from a 2.0-liter turbocharged V-4 that sends around 500 hp to the rear wheels and a 400-hp electric motor on the front axle. It sounds like a recipe for an intimidating machine, but it's not. Lapping Aragon circuit in Spain, Harris is stunned by the 919's clever powertrain mapping, which helps determine the precise moment to bring in the boost from the front electric motor. It makes the car feel genuinely approachable.
Harris's biggest challenge is with the crazy g-forces the high-downforce 919 is capable of generating. It gives you new respect for the people who raced these machines for hours at a stretch. Neel Jani must have some serious neck muscles.
It's videos like this that remind us how much we'll miss LMP1. Truly, this will be remembered as one of the great sports-car racing formulas, and the 919 will go down in history as a legend, just like Porsche's 917 and 956/962 before it.