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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Vettel impressed Porsche in Hypercar test but no Le Mans decision yet

Sebastian Vettel's participation in the Le Mans 24 Hours for Porsche’s Penske-run works team remains unclear despite impressing in his test last month.

Sebastian Vettel tests the Porsche 963

The four-time Formula 1 world champion completed almost two grand prix distances over four stints in Porsche Penske Motorsport's 963 hypercar in testing at Aragon in Spain, logging 118 laps in its major pre-Le Mans, 36-hour endurance test.

Porsche’s director of factory racing, Urs Kuratle, remarked that Vettel “mastered it extremely well”.

“Sebastian certainly doesn't have to prove that he can drive a car," Kuratle told Autosport sister site, Motorsport-Total.com. “He had a certain amount of respect for the unknown car but handled it very well.”

Kuratle knows Vettel from their days together at BMW-Sauber in Formula 1 in 2007: “He is still the same Sebastian, who really gets his teeth into these kinds of things. It was really a refreshing experience to learn about his impressions.

“Even for a four-time Formula 1 world champion, there were so many new things to deal with: a new team and a fairly complex car. He mastered it extremely well.”

Vettel has not taken part in any competitive racing since leaving F1, although he is understood to have been in preliminary talks last year with Porsche customer squad Jota for a World Endurance Championship programme.

Porsche will enter a third factory car at Le Mans to boost its chances, having taken pole position, victory and a double podium finish in the inaugural round of the 2024 WEC season in Qatar.

Sebastian Vettel tests the Porsche 963

Sebastian Vettel tests the Porsche 963

Photo by: Porsche Motorsport

Porsche's WEC star Kevin Estre said of Vettel’s approach to the test run: “He was definitely motivated. I saw him briefly before I got in and he was talking to the engineer, looking at the telemetry and hanging on the radio. He wanted to know everything. He did his job.”

Vettel has also been linked with an F1 comeback next year, most notably after a media tour last week to promote a sports drink, when he said it “might be appealing and interesting”.

“He's talking to various people; we only read about it in the press," added Kuratle of the speculation. “Nothing has been decided yet about what he will do, when he will drive or whether he will drive for us in the future.

“That will only become clear in the next few days or weeks. There is not even a date yet when it will be decided what, how and where he will drive.”

Porsche has until 19 May to name its drivers for Le Mans and only Mathieu Jaminet has been named in the #4 PPM hypercar entry, with its other IMSA drivers eager to take the vacant spots. 

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Vettel was joined in the test by regular WEC drivers Estre, Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor – along with reigning DTM champion Thomas Preining.

“We always look for the best possible solution for the company, for the team, and we have many drivers,” said Kuratle. “I personally believe that we have the 10 best drivers in sportscar racing. That's more than enough to have three cars [with three drivers each] at Le Mans.”

Watch: BrrrakeF1 - Understanding How Race Data is Used in IMSA & WEC

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