There are few cars which can compare to the tech-fest that is the 919 Hybrid. With 4WD, a sophisticated electric motor powering the front axle, and the punchy V4 turbo driving the rear, the propulsion is unrivaled.
That’s not only due to low-end torque and enviable traction. In large part, it’s due to the way that it deploys its ~1,000 horsepower. With clever mapping to decide when the right moment is to deploy hybrid boost, all Chris Harris has to do is plant his right foot for the most efficient use of power. “Because the car feels a bit different in every corner, there’s a sense that it’s doing stuff that I don’t know about,” Harris elaborates.
The self-driving aspect might be exaggerated slightly for dramatic effect, but the typical approach one might take to a contemporary GT3 car doesn’t seem to apply with this rolling test lab. Even after learning how to manage all the systems at work, he needs a few tips from Neel Jani on how to take quick corners with great speed and consistency.
It’s not surprising that the high G-forces quickly exhaust Harris, a reformed smoker, but it’s the way which the 919 Hybrid casually cruises through the fast bends that he can’t quite fathom. Thanks to the aero grip and the computer assistance, coasting off-throttle through some sections works better than one familiar with typical racecar behavior might think. Thanks to the outrageous levels of downforce, the car carries Harris to a new level of performance that leaves him baffled.
“I’ve never driven a racing car that feels like it’s doing more thinking around the lap than me.”