Endurance Racing News and Stories

No Vettel in third Porsche at Le Mans

Phil Oakley

Porsche has confirmed its full driver lineup for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, and with that confirms beyond doubt that 2010-2013 Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel will not make his debut at the race this year.

Vettel had tested the Porsche 963 in the German manufacturer’s 30 hour endurance test at Motorland Aragon earlier this year, alongside Porsche’s regular race drivers and Thomas Preining, another Porsche factory driver who won the DTM championship last year.

Many saw this as a two-way test: for Porsche to see how fast Vettel was in the 963, and for Vettel to get a first taste of the car and see how comfortable he was, before a possible debut at Le Mans in June if all went well.

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While by all accounts it did go well, it seems either Vettel or Porsche has decided against the idea. This means Nick Tandy and Felipe Nasr will join the previously-announced Mathieu Jaminet in the #4 Porsche 963 car at the French endurance classic.

Porsche WEC regulars Matt Campbell, Fred Makowiecki, and Michael Christensen will be in the #5 Porsche, while Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer, and Laurens Vanthoor in the sister #6 full season car.

Porsche took their first WEC victory with the 963 earlier this year, in Qatar. Image: Nick Dungan / Drew Gibson Photography

It seems that the most important factor for choosing the driver lineup in the #4 Le Mans-only car was experience, as Urs Kuratle, Porsche’s director of LMDh factory motorsport explained.

“After announcing the entry of a third car in Le Mans, we still had two driver positions available. The decision was not easy for us given our very strong and equally skilled squad,” he said.

“Ultimately, one of the deciding factors was having Le Mans experience. Nick Tandy has competed there eleven times and won with Porsche in 2015. Felipe Nasr has four races at the Sarthe under his belt. Moreover, the trio impressed us with strong lap times and great teamwork during their joint campaign at Le Mans in 2023.”

Porsche were left to lick their wounds last year at Le Mans. Image: Porsche

Porsche were disappointing at Le Mans last year. The #5 car finished in a best position of 16th overall, while the #6 was 22nd and the #75 — numbered for Porsche’s 75th anniversary — did not finish at all.

They will be hoping for better — much better — this year.

“By fielding the third car in Le Mans, we want to maximise our chances of achieving a possible 20th overall victory for Porsche. This also means that we rely on experienced and fast drivers,” said Thomas Laudenbach, Porsche Motorsport vice president.

“Over the past few months Mathieu, Felipe and Nick have consistently impressed with powerful performances in the North American IMSA series. The three are a sure thing in the Porsche 963. I’m positive that we’re perfectly prepared for the highlight in June. We want to win – there can be no other goal for Porsche!”

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