Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni lead Porsche’s one-two finish in GTE Pro during sunday’s 4 Hours of Silverstone, but the Austrian believes the German manufacturer was lucky that Ferrari had issues during the race.
Lietz and Bruni took the win in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR-19, ahead of the #92 sister car of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen in second. The double podium bookmarked a successful debut weekend for Porsche’s new GTE Pro challenger.
AF Corse’s two Ferrari 488 GTE Evos were arguably the strongest cars on track, but both suffered a number of setbacks. The #51 was delayed by an early puncture and a late drive through penalty, while the #71 crashed out when Miguel Molina came together with the #6 Ginetta LMP1 of Oliver Jarvis.
Speaking to Motorsport Week after the race, Lietz said he believes Porsche were fortunate to profit from AF Corse’s issues during the four hour-affair.
“I mean, the quickest car was the Ferrari, that’s for sure,” said Lietz. “I mean, I don’t know what they did, but they had fantastic pace, and in the end, we were lucky that they had issues. Because otherWISe, for sure they would be stronger than us in this race.”
“I mean, we did not expect this,” Lietz continued. “After one year of development, it’s a perfect pressure release for the people in Weissach, for us drivers, to show the board that the car is good, who in the end pay this show. Nobody expected it.
I think performance WISe and setup WISe we were really happy from the beginning, like out of the box the car felt good. Still possible to improve, for sure, but after the race it’s always easier to understand the car and to know what you should have done. But I think that in preparation and the way that the car operated this weekend was really promising, because we could actually work on the setup, try a lot of things and we had no small problems like you could have with a new car.”
It worked from the beginning, and it shows how Porsche develops cars, how the Weissach engineers work really well to make a new car which lasts four hours here and is able to finish first and second in the first race.”
Porsche made the difference in the race by strong strategy calls during a rain spell, which gave the two cars a distinct advantage over their GTE Pro adversaries. Despite the correct call, the Austrian admitted he was unsure of the team’s decision to bolt on wets at the time.
“I think we stayed out maybe the longest from everybody with slicks, because I said ‘for me, it’s still slicks’ because half of the track was still dry, and with the new tarmac at Silverstone, it’s fantastic, so much grip,” he said.
“You can run the slicks until aquaplaning is not an issue. But the guys said the rain will be for twenty minutes and increase. Then I said: ‘okay, it’s up to you, I would go for slicks’. We went in, we put on the rain tyre for dry conditions, the rain tyre which also lasts under drying condition.
Then I went out, and after two laps I saw the sun and I was like ‘this was wrong’. But then one lap later, it was a bit of rain and I was quite happy to have the rain tyres.”