Marc Lieb And Romain Dumas Follow Webber Out Of Porsche’s 919 Hybrid LMP1 Program
Who will replace them?
After three successful years with the program relatively unchanged from a driver lineup perspective, Porsche have announced that they'll be making some mega changes to their roster for the 2017 season. The first domino to fall was the announcement of Mark Webber's retirement just a few weeks ago. Today, however, we've seen the falling of two additional drivers from the 6-driver team in the form of Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas. The pair have shared a car with third driver Neel Jani since the program began, and it will sure be interesting to see the cars run without them. Both are experienced pilots that have won in pretty much every level of competition, including winning the FIA WEC championship this season, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June of this year. With both of them still showing winning capabilities, it is strange to see Porsche drop them after a championship season, but there are concerns that must be addressed regarding their full-stint pace. If Porsche wishes to continue taking on Toyota at Le Mans, they've got to keep moving forward and making progress season on season.
Romain Dumas, now 38 years old, had a phenomenal 2016 season, primarily in June as he won the 24 hours of Le Mans and then flew to Colorado to win the Pikes Peak Hill Climb just 7 days later. Dumas has won Le Mans overall twice, and also won the GTE Pro class in 2013 (eight total 24 hour victories). Lieb, aside from the Le Mans victory shared with Dumas, has an additional three GT class victories at the French endurance classic, and another Spa 24 hours overall victory back in 2003 (six total 24 hour victories). Regardless of their successes, the duo will be moving to "new tasks" with Porsche, presumably still within the motorsport department.
Who will replace them?
With Audi leaving the series, it is likely that Porsche will replace their three LMP1 drivers with at least two Audi LMP1 drivers who have been left without a job as of the end of this season. Porsche would be foolish to not snap up Andre Lotterer and Lucas di Grassi as two of the three they need. Both of those drivers are at the top of their game at the moment, and would certainly help Porsche with their full-stint pace issue. Of course, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval are Ex-Audi and excellent candidates for the third open position, but it bears remembering that Porsche already has Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber waiting in the wings, eagerly seeking an LMP1 seat. Of course, all of this is out the window if Porsche can lure Fernando Alonso away from his McLaren Formula 1 seat. We'll have to wait to see how it all shakes out next season!