Anthony Davidson experiences Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar sim
Photo: Peugeot TotalEnergies

Anthony Davidson experiences Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar sim

Official FIA WEC TV commentator and 2014 WEC World Champion Anthony Davidson recently travelled to France to sample Total PeugeotEnergies’ simulator.

Davidson was there alongside British weekly motorsport magazine Autosport and below is what he told renowned WEC journalist Gary Watkins about his experience inside the Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar virtual sim.

“They’re having to wrestle the steering wheel much more than I ever did… they’re definitely earning their money out there!

Davidson added: “The cars are definitely exciting to look at and the Peugeot has a quirky look because it doesn’t have a rear wing – one of the beauties of the new rules is the freedom it gives the designers. It was good to get a chance to drive the 9X8 in the sim to understand a bit more about it and just how different the new cars are to the prototypes I drove during my career.

“I did get a sense of the mass of the vehicle and the inertia that comes with it straight away… the car definitely doesn’t like heavy braking and changing direction at the same time. When you have a moment and slide the car, it slides for longer than you think it should. It doesn’t like being thrown around. 

“I could really feel the weight in the Dunlop Curve and the sequence after the chicane leading up to Tertre Rouge. It took me a couple of laps to take the Dunlop Curve flat. I thought, ‘Whoa, this thing wants to understeer when I want to be squaring it up for the left into the chicane’. 

“The right-hander out of the chicane and over the brow of the hill was a really intimidating corner. Then at the bottom of the hill, in the left-right that takes you up towards Tertre Rouge before the Mulsanne Straight, I could really feel the pendulum effect caused by the weight. An LMH is definitely not as nimble and agile as the P1s I drove, nor the LMP2 I raced at the end of my career, but with the extra weight that’s to be expected. It’s simple physics.”

There are a couple of final questions that Gary Watkins also asked of Davidson after his return to the cockpit of a contemporary prototype. One is specific to the 9X8: did he feel the absence of the rear wing when driving the car?

“I didn’t even think about it when I was in the sim. Sure there’s a big visual impact when you look at a car without a rear wing because we’ve all grown up seeing wings on the back of racing cars, but this car develops its downforce through ground-effects. If you can balance the car without a wing on the back, why not?”

Watkins also asked if Davidson’s brief time in the Peugeot sim whetted his appetite for a comeback in sportscar racing’s new golden age...?

“I know the Peugeot has air-conditioning, something the Toyota never had, so it would have a bit of creature comfort for an old man like me! But I’ve done my time on the race track: I’ll talk about what I see happening out there on TV instead." 

Davidson will be back on WEC commentating duty for the upcoming 6 Hours of Portimao (Sunday 16 April).

Interview by Autosport’s Gary Watkins