The 2015 FIA WEC Drivers’ champions Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber completed 4,142km over a period of five days in their Porsche 919 Hybrid.
The session was chiefly devoted to tyre testing and came after a similar three-day session to work on slicks for the 2016 world championship with Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb in February.
Three types of slick – a cold weather soft compound, a warm weather soft compound and a warm weather soft+ compound – will be provided by Michelin to its three LM P1 partners. In Abu Dhabi, the French firm had three or four development versions of each one.
“The aim is to evaluate the different compounds and sign off the casing construction choices that were made after an earlier phase of testing in 2015,” says Jérôme Mondain, manager of Michelin Motorsports endurance racing programme. “Porsche Team will make its final decision for the season after another test planned before the 6 Hours of Silverstone.”
Michelin’s other LM P1 partners Toyota Gazoo Racing and Audi Sport are also busy with tyre development work, and each one will choose its own range for 2016 from a broad initial selection of solutions proposed by Michelin.
“The three teams are at different stages in the process as a function of their respective build-up programmes. Audi worked through a number of Michelin tyres last week in Bahrain, while Toyota tried different constructions at the beginning of the month at Le Castellet [France].”
Although tyre testing restricts the amount of time that can be given over to set-up work in order to ensure consistent parameters, Porsche Team took time to try different aero packages and powertrain solutions in Abu Dhabi.
It is important to remember that the 2016 FIA WEC regulations have reduced the energy allowance per lap at Le Mans by around seven percent to 10 MJ and cut the amount of fuel authorised by a similar proportion. A maximum of three aerodynamic configurations will be permitted for the season but the number of tyres allowed for each round is identical to last year.
Other new developments from Michelin for the coming season regarding its intermediate and wet weather tyres remain to be tested before the world championship kicks off.