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Vettel on Porsche 963 test: That was definitely fun

Vettel on Porsche 963 test: That was definitely fun

While Formula 1 focussed on the recent Australian Grand Prix, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel – missing on the grid for the past two seasons – was back in the cockpit of a race car again, the German testing a Porsche 963 Hypercar in preparation for Le Mans.

Although Vettel is not down to drive for the team at the great 24-hours sportscar race, he thoroughly enjoyed his outing and he also impressed with his role during a 48-hour testing programme conducted by Porsche at Motorland Aragón last week.

Vettel, who quit Formula 1 and Ferrari at the end of 2022, completed a total of 118 laps over a total of 581 kilometres in two double stints in the Porsche 963, winners of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WED) season opener.

After his time in the 963, Vettel explained the reason for his new adventure: “Of course, I also keep an eye on other motorsport disciplines and know many drivers who are active in the WEC and Le Mans. At some point, my curiosity was so great that I had the idea of trying it out myself. Porsche gave me the opportunity to test a current hypercar with the 963.”

As for his time at Aragon, Vettel added: “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 Aragon – that was definitely fun.

Vettel: I first had to get used to everything and find my rhythm.

Vettel: I first had to get used to everything and find my rhythm. Porsche 963 Test Aragon

“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,” concluded the 36-year-old.

The Porsche report from Aragon added: “For Vettel, it was the first racetrack test with a hybrid prototype in accordance with LMDh regulations. Porsche Penske Motorsport is preparing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 15/16 June with an endurance test on the 5.345-kilometre circuit near Alcañiz in Spain.

“Vettel prepared meticulously for his stint with the hybrid prototype. On 14 March, the 53-time Formula 1 race winner paid a visit to the FIA WEC team at the Porsche Penske Motorsport facility in Mannheim. One day later, the Heppenheim native completed an extensive simulator session at the Porsche Motorsport Centre in Flacht and familiarised himself with the special features and complex controls of the Le Mans race car.

“This was followed on 21 March by the first familiarisation kilometres with the Porsche 963 on the in-house test track at the Weissach Development Centre. In dry weather with tarmac temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius and 10 to 13 degrees cool air, the F1 champion completed almost two Grand Prix distances in Aragón without any problems.

Porsche targeting 20th win at Le Mans this year

Porsche 963 Test Aragon

In addition to Vettel, a total of seven Porsche works drivers took part in the endurance test. Matt Campbell (Australia), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) will share the Porsche 963 with starting number 5 in the WEC, while Kévin Estre (France), André Lotterer (Germany) and Laurens Vanthoor will drive the sister car with the number 6. They will be joined in Aragon by reigning DTM champion Thomas Preining from Austria.

Porsche Penske Motorsport works team won the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening the 24 Hours of Daytona.

They also defied the odds to win this year’s first race of the WEC season in Qatar with the Porsche 963 beating possibly the most competitive field in the series history, with the likes of Ferrari, Toyota, Peugeot, Lamborghini, Cadillac, BMW and Alpine in the mix

At Round 4 on 15–16 June, the WEC crown jewel, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche is aiming for its 20th overall victory at the Sarthe.

Big Question: Sebastian Vettel for Le Mans in 2024 with Porsche?