The Porsche Team goes into its second season with an evolution of the 919 Hybrid. One of the pillars of the development process is experience. It also plays a significant role in communications during the race. Strict rules govern the intense radio communications that take place at full racing speed. But how does the communication between the race car and the pit work?
The 919 Hybrid is equipped with hundreds of sensors. For example, they measure the amount of fuel in the petrol tank, the system's hydraulic pressure, the oil and braking temperatures, the accelerator position, the voltage. Or they record the vehicle behaviour when the brakes are applied or while cornering. The driver is fully transparent, like glass. Nothing escapes the engineers' notice. But they are not allowed to take direct action. One-directional telemetry – the car transmits data to the pit – is the permitted standard. Bi-directional telemetry – engineers having direct influence on the car – is prohibited. That's why the voice radio plays a central role.
Who talks to whom? Only one person talks to the driver so that he is not subject to excessive distraction – his racing engineer. Each vehicle has one, and he sits in the command stand at the pit lane wall. He in turn receives a lot of different information. The engineers keep him up to speed about the car's condition, and about the competitors' behaviour. The strategy engineer discusses suggestions for the respective situation with him, the crew chief wants to know if the tyres should be changed during the next fuel stop, and if yes, which set of tyres should be mounted.
The racing engineer needs to be able to stay exceptionally level-headed. His radio channels are not prioritised, he hears people all talking at the same time. And he must never, ever miss anything the driver says. If he reports that the car's handling is changing or the tyre performance is deteriorating, it means action is needed. Just don't rush anything! When the driver radios that driving with smooth-tread slicks is no longer possible with the rain setting in, the racing engineer has only seconds to assess the situation. If the engineer monitoring the weather satellite images tells him that the rain will stop shortly, and the colleague watching the competitors tells him that the rival is already heading to the pit for a tyre change, it might be beneficial to reassure the driver and have him stay on the track. “Keep the car on track, rain will stop soon, don’t worry, you are doing well, mate.” The sonorous voice of Stephen Mitas, car no. 19's racing engineer, conceals the stress that he is under. He also has to be able to take risks and gamble to gain an advantage over the competition. As a precautionary measure, the racing engineer radios the crew chief and the mechanics: “Prepare yourselves for car no. 19. Full service. Fuelling, tyre and driver change.”
Race Control is also listening in. If a driver radios “Blue flag, blue flag! ” from an LMP1 vehicle – the premier class in the World Endurance Championship – he is complaining about being obstructed while lapping backmarkers. Race Control must then ensure that the the driver to be lapped is actually shown the blue “make-room-flag” and if necessary, punish the driver who ignores the signal. Sometimes the dialogues between driver and racing engineer make it to the television screen to entertain the viewers. Some codes, however, can only be understood by team members, as the rivals are also listening in.
* Data determined in the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) in accordance with the Euro 6 (715/2007/EC, 195/2013/EC and ECE-R 101.01) measurement method. The figures do not refer to an individual vehicle nor do they constitute part of the offer. They are intended solely as a means of comparing different types of vehicle. Fuel consumption calculated for vehicles with standard specification only. Actual consumption and performance may vary with items of optional equipment. A vehicle’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions depend not only on its efficient use of fuel but also on driving style and other non-technical factors. The latest Porsche models with a petrol engine are designed to operate on fuels with an ethanol content of up to 10 %. You can obtain further information about individual vehicles from your Porsche Centre. Consumption figures were obtained on the basis of standard equipment. Special equipment may affect consumption and performance.** These data were obtained using the Euro 5 measurement method (715/2007/EC and 692/2008/EC) in the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) with standard equipment. The information does not refer to an individual vehicle and is not part of the offer, but is simply provided so that comparisons can be made between different types of vehicle. Further, up to date information on the individual vehicles can be obtained from your Porsche Centre. Consumption figures were obtained on the basis of standard equipment. Special equipment may affect consumption and performance.