Andre Lotterer says he doesn’t expect team orders to come into play at Porsche in the final two races of the World Endurance Championship season and that he feels winning races is still the priority for the No. 1 crew before the end of the season.
As it stands, the No. 2 crew can take the Drivers Championship crown this weekend in Shanghai as Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley hold a 39-point advantage over the No. 8 Toyota crew. Porsche can also win the Manufacturers title in Shanghai too. Despite that though, Lotterer says that the No. 1 crew is now able to focus on winning the last two races.
Lotterer, along with Nick Tandy and Neel Jani have been out of the championship race, but shown real pace in the second half of the season, but were denied possible wins at Nurburgring, Mexico and COTA due to team orders playing a part in padding the No. 2’s points lead.
“It is important for me to get a win – I didn’t come here to get no wins at all,” Lotterer told RACER. “I’ve been doing the job, we’ve worked as a team – which is how it is as a factory driver though sometimes.
“We’ve lost at least two wins this year, if not more. But I don’t think there’s issues now we’re coming to the end of the championship. The margin is big for the sister car, so I don’t think we’ll have any (team orders).”
Lotterer feels though, that winning will be a challenge in China, as the Toyotas are set to be close on pace to Porsche, as they were on home soil at Fuji Speedway last month.
“It will be a challenging weekend for both teams. Toyota has made a step forward recently. After Le Mans they struggled a bit at Nurburgring and Mexico. At COTA they surprised us when we didn’t optimize our own package, and Fuji is a track that suits them.
“They’ve been improving their package and optimizing it. It’s been a real step forward, so we’re expecting them to be competitive here.”
Looking ahead to next year, Lotterer, like all the LMP1 Porsche drivers, is set to stay contracted to the German marque after the conclusion of the LMP1 program. This leaves the door open for Lotterer to race with Porsche in GT machinery, although he feels a full-time seat in the team’s GTE program may be out of reach.
“We’re all staying under contract, which is nice of them,” noted the German, who switched to Porsche this year after the closure of Audi’s LMP1 program. “Obviously, I wanted the LMP1 story to continue – it’s tough to experience this two years in a row! But at least we’ll still be involved.
“It won’t be for a big program – GT is the only thing that’s available. I’m waiting to see which races to schedule, which endurance races.
“We’d have to have a talk about GTE after this WEC season has finished. Porsche has its GTE drivers, and I’d imagine that it’s their world. But they might be able to fit us in in some cool races, let’s see”
Outside of Porsche, Lotterer is set to race with TECHEETAH in Formula E, a deal which he says Porsche was comfortable him signing. In addition to that, the German is keen to continue racing at Le Mans, even if it means racing with a privateer LMP1 effort.
“Porsche has been pretty relaxed about us driving elsewhere, as I’ve got a drive with TECHEETAH, and if there’s a chance at Le Mans in a good car they’ll be letting us do that too,” he said. “Privateer is becoming 90 percent the only chance to run at Le Mans in the fastest cars. Toyota may stay, but they’re the only LMP1 factory team, and they would probably keep the same line-up if they did come back. But let’s see what LMP1 teams come, and how the performance is.
“I’m open to racing in LMP1 privateer – winning Le Mans again is still a big dream for me. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a works car or not, because if you win Le Mans, you win Le Mans.
“I want to do well in Formula E, but it looks like it will be possible to do both. It’s too early to say now, though, as we need to see who is onboard.”