Three Porsches on the podium, drama for Vergne and Peugeot

Three Porsches on the podium, drama for Vergne and Peugeot

2 March at 21:10
  • Ludo van Denderen

While the balance of power in Formula 1 seemingly remains as it was (Red Bull Racing with Max Verstappen superior), there seems to be a shift in the World Endurance Championship this season. Not Toyota - for years the dominant team in WEC - but Porsche Penske Motorsport have seized power in 2024. In Qatar, which hosted the opening race of the season, it was a strong win for Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor. Behind the first Porsche, Hertz Team Jota (Porsche's customer team) and the second Porsche crossed the finish line in second and third after 335 laps.

Brendon Hartley was already throwing in the proverbial towel after just four hours. The reigning world champion, competing for Toyota, stood in the pit box after his stint and shook his head: "We're just not fast enough," said the New Zealander as his team drove in the middle of the field. Of course, it was only the first race of the year, it seems that in increasingly stronger field, Toyota is facing a catch-up race in terms of developments.

Porsche delivered

Porsche has used the winter to make a huge progression and the first fruits of that were picked in Bahrain. The car is fast over one lap - with pole - and once in the race, nobody (at least in Qatar) could match Porsche. A small note though: the circuit in Qatar is a very unique track, and Porsche already said themselves that the expectation is that the difference is not going to be that big everywhere. But the fact that three Porsches ended up on the podium will still worry the competition.

At Peugeot, starting the third year in WEC, there were satisfied faces until one lap before the end. But in the final kilometres of the nine-hour race, the Peugeot of Jean-Eric Vergne, Nico Müller and Mikkel Jensen stalled from second position, after which Hertz Team Jota and Porsche passed Vergne.

The best Toyota - with Nyck de Vries, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi - finished in sixth place. Ferrari could not play a significant role in Qatar either. The Italians were even beaten by their customer team AF Corse, which includes Robert Kubica. Jenson Button crashed out with Hertz Team Jota's second car. BMW, one of the newcomers to WEC, finished 12th with Robin Frijns and Rene Rast among others. Mick Schumacher finished his debut race for Alpine in thirteenth.

The results WEC 1812 KM in Qatar