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Nasr: “Badass” Porsche 963 reminds me of F1 hybrid days

Former Sauber Formula 1 racer Felipe Nasr says driving the new generation of IMSA GTP prototypes reminds him of his time racing turbo-hybrid grand prix cars.

#7 Porsche Penske Motorsport, Porsche 963, GTP: Mathieu Jaminet, Michael Christensen, Nick Tandy

Porsche

Nasr, who won the IMSA SportsCar Championship in 2018 and 2021 in Action Express-run Cadillacs, raced for Sauber in F1 from 2015-16 – with a best result of fifth on his grand prix debut in Australia. 

The 30-year-old Brazilian signed for Porsche’s factory sportscar team at the end of 2021, winning the GTD Pro class at the Daytona 24 Hours with Pfaff Motorsports' 911 GT3R last year, and has been testing its new 963 challenger “since it was born”.

He has racked up the mileage since its rollout at Weissach, at tracks across both America and Europe. 

“The addition of the hybrid system reminds me of my F1 days, there’s a lot going on there on the steering wheel for us drivers to see and do,” Nasr told Autosport.

“I can’t wait to see the cars racing together. They are wider and longer [than before] – they look badass to me! 

“It’s a unique feeling to be involved from Day 1 and seeing the 963 being born even before it had hit the track. It’s been a very cool experience to be involved since the beginning.” 

Nasr, who will race the #7 Porsche 963 in IMSA this year alongside Matt Campbell, explained that the advent of the common hybrid system has changed the driving dynamics of the prototype machines, compared with the previous Daytona Prototype category.

#7 Porsche Penske Motorsport, Porsche 963, GTP: Felipe Nasr

#7 Porsche Penske Motorsport, Porsche 963, GTP: Felipe Nasr

Photo by: Porsche

“It feels different to the DPi with the hybrid on the car, there are definitely some driving differences in terms of the style and the new tire,” he added. “When we press the brake pedal we don’t just have the mechanical system, we have the combined hybrid system, so the e-motor is also helping us slow down the car.  

“You stamp the brake, you expect the stopping power right away – so this hasn’t changed, but the feeling you get through the pedal is different. I think we all had to go through a process of learning that, but it’s fun. The car looks good and it drives good.” 

The inclusion of electrical power, which is regenerated under braking, will play a part by increasing stint lengths – which should put more of an onus on tire and fuel management. Nasr also pointed to the increase in weight that the battery and MGU brings, which will also be a factor. 

He said: “There’s a lot more power than a DPi, the only downside I would say is the weight – a bit heavier [by about 100kg] than they used to be. You can feel that in corner speeds, and the energy we put into the tires is a lot higher than before.  

“Stint lengths will be longer, more driving time for us – so maybe we won’t be driving flat out for 35-40 minutes like we did with DPi. Now we will have to look after the car, tyres and fuel for about 50-60 minutes. That’s a good addition of time, I think the drivers will feel it physically too! 

“The racing in IMSA is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done: it’s challenging, it’s hard, you have a lot of good drivers and teams. With all these manufacturers involved, this is going to produce prime time for sportscar racing. I’m really looking forward to it.” 

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