Sebastian Vettel test drives the Porsche 963

Sebastian Vettel test drives the Porsche 963

Four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel was recently invited to take the Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 for a test drive at the Aragón circuit in Spain. The German ace completed 118 laps (581 kilometres) in two double stints.

Sebastian Vettel had never driven a hybrid prototype with a closed cockpit, compliant with Hypercar regulations, on a circuit before. The winner of 53 Formula One grands prix therefore jumped at the opportunity to test the Porsche 963 at MotorLand Aragón.

Vettel prepared meticulously for the test drive. He had already visited the Porsche Penske Motorsport HQ in Mannheim ahead of a long simulator session at the Porsche Motorsport Center in Flacht to get to grips with the hypercar’s controls. On 21 March, he completed his first miles on the test track at the Weissach development facility. At MotorLand, Vettel completed the equivalent of two grands prix!

"The driving experience is different because of the roof"
Sebastian Vettel

“Of course, I also keep an eye on other motorsport disciplines and know many drivers who are active in the WEC and Le Mans,” Vettel said. “At some point, my curiosity was so great that I had the idea of trying it out myself. 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 tyres 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,” added the grateful champion.

Vettel’s test drive was a unique opportunity for the German manufacturer, as Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director of Porsche Penske Motorsport explained. “He is a four-time Formula One World Champion!” he exclaimed. “He has massive experience with hybrid systems and high-performance racing cars. Having his fresh, unique perspective on where the car is and his 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.”

A 36-hour test in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

MotorLand Aragón is one of the few spots in Europe where endurance teams can drive around the clock and run for 36 hours non-stop in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Peak speeds in excess of 300 kph can be reached on the long straight, similar to what the teams encounter in the French classic.
In addition to Vettel, seven Porsche works drivers are taking part in the endurance test with Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen and Frédéric Makowiecki sharing the #5 Porsche 963, while Kévin Estre, André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor put the #6 car through its paces. They are due to be joined by DTM champion Thomas Preining.

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