Door still open to Vettel for future Porsche Hypercar seat despite Le Mans snub

“The book is not closed” on Sebastian Vettel competing in Hypercar with Porsche in the future according to Porsche’s director of factory racing Urs Kuratle, following the recent decision by the German brand to leave the four-time Formula 1 world champion out of its driver line-up for Le Mans.

Speaking on Thursday at Spa-Francorchamps, Kuratle explained that “the situation was just not right” for Vettel to make his Le Mans debut next month. Vettel had been tipped to compete in the third factory Porsche at La Sarthe, following a recent 963 test at Motorland Aragon in which he completed 118 laps of the Spanish circuit.

Kuratle was light on specifics but confirmed that there had been discussions about a Le Mans drive for the 36-year-old German.


“It’s partly how you can prepare for it, and it didn’t come together,” Kuratle continued. “The time in the car would have been limited and there’s not much more with the test ban we have.

“I’m not blaming the test ban, but in the situation we are in, we are not able to have a third car here for example, to do things like we used to in the past.”

Looking ahead, however, Kuratle said Vettel “could be” part of the brand’s Hypercar/GTP effort in the future, though currently there are no concrete plans for him to test the 963 again.

“It would be stupid to close a book like this, from either side,” he said. “The book is not closed, but it’s also not defined how it continues, that’s all.

“It’s not because we don’t want to, or he doesn’t want to (test the 963 a second time), it’s simply because the discussions have not been done.”

With Vettel no longer in the frame, Porsche has opted to compete at Le Mans with an identical trio to last year in its third 963. From Porsche’s IMSA GTP stable, Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy and Felipe Nasr are set to share the wheel of the No. 4 car, which will race alongside the two full-season FIA WEC entries run by Penske.

Kuratle admitted that the toughest part of the decision-making process was choosing which driver would be named as the nominated reserve for Le Mans. Porsche has 10 contracted full-time GTP and Hypercar drivers, but only nine seats to fill for Le Mans, meaning one driver will be forced to sit out the 24-hour race again.

This year American Dane Cameron is serving as the reserve after Matt Campbell took on that role for the centenary race a year ago.

“The easy bit is that we have four of the best drivers in the USA in the IMSA team, and to bring those guys over to Le Mans, that’s a no-brainer. That car, with these guys, will be one of the best driver line-ups in the complete pitlane,” Kuratle said.

“The not-easy part is that you have to decide who is not driving. You have to announce who is the one not driving, and all 10 have the experience and the possibility to perform really well at Le Mans.

“But, at the end of the day, we are not expecting a Nobel Prize for this decision. We can’t forget with Felipe we have a Daytona winner, and with Tandy we have a Le Mans winner already.”

Story originally appeared on Racer