Wolfgang Hatz Takes Your Questions

When it comes to high performance and race engineering CVs, it’s hard to beat that of Wolfgang Hatz. The man overseeing Porsche’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race this coming weekend has had an amazing career working on some equally-amazing automotive engineering projects, so we’re both humbled and excited that Wolfgang (pictured above in the blue shirt) will be lending his expertise to our next round of Ask The Expert.


That CV? Well, it goes a little something like this… A few short years after earning his Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany, Wolfgang joined BMW AG in 1983 as a Test Engineer in engine development – a move that ultimately led him to project manage development of the E30 M3’s hallowed S14 engine for BMW Motorsport. Then in 1989 he took up a new role at Porsche AG Weissach which came with the title Head of Development Formula 1. Since that time Wolfgang has held positions as the Technical Director of Opel Motorsport, the Head of Engine Development at Fiat Auto SpA Turin and the Head of Powertrain Development at Audi AG. Back at Porsche AG, since 2011 he’s been a Member of the Board of Management in charge of Research and Development.

Opportunities to pose questions to someone with credentials like Wolfgang’s definitely don’t come along everyday, so if there’s something you’d really like to know about his impressive career, or perhaps Porsche’s new Le Mans LMP1 challenger – the 919 Hybrid – now is the time.

Add your questions in the comments section below, and once they’ve been collated we’ll be sending them over to Stuttgart where Wolfgang will select a few to answer for an upcoming post.

Brad Lord



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What is in your opinion the greatest engine you've created?

What would you recommend someone do, if they were thinking of pursuing a career in the powertrain industry? i.e. building engines


What is the best way to get involved into the big automotive industry? Do you have any tips for people pursueing to become a part in the automotive industry?


What sort of technical challenges do you have to foresee in order to be a contender in such a competitive field that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans? Especially without past recent years of 'real-world' testing experience?


What do you think is the future of the automobile? Is there room any more for enthusiast cars or will all future cars gradually become transportation appliances?


In your career, did you have a mentor that you discussed goals, challenges, or other topics with? I am six months into the work force as a mechanical engineer, and I have heard about people having a mentor.


Do you think Porsche can overcome the 911's basic problem of weight distribution in the future? Currently it seems that the new 911 RSR can only be competitve because of the amount of waiver given to the car by the ACO/FIA? Disregarding the waiver Corvette and BMW are allowed to use in the USC.


Do you think the push towards "greener" cars will affect the future of supercars? We've seen the Tesla Roadster and the new Acura NSX.


What single engine, car, or project did you learn the most from?


With the last eight overall LeMans winners having run diesel engines, why has Porsche chosen to equip its car with a gasoline powered engine? And why have you chose a V4 cylinder configuration when a flat 4 would match your brand history better and would seem to give a lower center of gravity?
Do you believe Porsche enthusiasts simply could not stomach seeing a diesel car in the field?
Thank you,
-from Chicago


What was the biggest challenge to get the 919 Hybrid competitive but still so environmentally friendly as possible? 

How come you wanted to start competing in the LMP1 class again and are Porsche there to stay?


these cars have a lot more downforce than the current F1 cars yet they lap circuits like Spa and Silverstone over 10 seconds slower than F1. do you think we will see a faster LMP1 car than F1 car in the future?


After working so many years in powertrain development You have probably liked/preferred some engines more than others, so what is your favorite engine or engine type (displacement, arrangement, turbo/NA, hybrids etc.) ?

turbo BEAMS ae86

@Mike Came to ask this but my english is worst!!!


You have worked in a number of highly regarded engineering centers. If you could go back, to when you first started out as a
professional engineer, what advice would you give yourself?


What would be your advise for a Brazilian Mechanical Engineering student wishing to reach a high performance and race engineering career in Germany?


Can you please mock Audi for that fake burnout (first clip before dougnuts) by doing a real one at one point.


Not relevant I know but any idea how I can watch the big race in Australia?


What are some of the lessons you learned while in school that you still use today on a somewhat frequent basis?


What automotive related accomplishment are you most proud of?


Do you believe hydrogen fuel cells will ever become a viable replacement for internal combustion?


How much time did it take from the initial idea to enter LeMans in the LMP1-H class to have the car at the start of 2014 LeMans? And how much time do you predict the 919 will last in terms of further development by Porsche?


Was it always your intention to use a V4 engine (a typically frowned upon approach) when you began working on the 919 Project?


How does Porsche plan to beat Audi first time out?


Would you ever consider running a panamera based machine in DTM?
For me?
What about if I smile?


How do you think Le Mans will continue to change in the future, in regards to hybrid systems? Will we see a fully electric LMP within the next 10 years?


What does your advertising company plan to do in retaliation to Audi's welcoming?


What advice would you give a budding race engineer who is at the beginning of their journey?


What will the future internal combustion engine look like? Its had over a hundred years of R&D and you still keep coming up with little things to improve it (Direct Injection, variable valve timing, forced induction). Is there anything that is in automotive development that will affect future motors?


What's in your garage, and what is your dream car?


how do you, uh how to put this relieve yourself during a race i always wondered


How does Porsche and Porsche's racing department think about the new engines in F1? How about the recent trends towards Diesel hybrids? 
How much longer do you see the personal sports car being in the average person's garage?
What was your first car? Favorite car? Daily driver? Dream car?


As a student studying at high school planning to do something similar to what you have done/are doing what would you suggest I do? Are scholarships worth looking at?


Lachys114 Go to college (preferably one with race engineering, but mechanical engineering will work just fine) and WORK HARD. Don't let anyone out-work you, and you'll get to where you want to go. Work hard at high school too- it's the gateway to the school you want to get into. But you have to WORK. Day in, day out. Hard work x opportunity= success, and the folks who work hard get more opportunities. 

Also, find local racing teams or garages near you and get in contact with them. Ask to work for them. Do anything they'll let you do, and do it for free if you have to. It'll put you on their radar, and most importantly, you'll be around cars.


As a current mechanical engineering student what are some key factors that you look for in hiring a new engineers. I also was wondering are there different standards for hiring foreign engineers, like for example if an American would be lucky to get an interview with your firm how would you compare their education to some one form your country?


What was going on during the busiest time of your career? How do you prevent over-committing yourself with so much responsibility?


OscarArzate Starting off, speak their language, literally. :)

Gianluca FairladyZ

Dear Mr Hatz

What was the main factor or reason for Porsche to return in Le Mans LMP1 class? I can imagine that competing in this sport is very expensive, so the target will certainly be to win. How do you motivate your crew to compete against factory works teams like Audi and Toyota?


Big Pooky Lachys114 : As a race engineer in Europe myself I can add to that: Go get a bachelor of masters at a university. As for finding teams: Thats the best advice that can be given. Not only do you get a broader network, but you also get hands-on expirience, which might just be the deciding point for hiring somebody. And if that only means cleaning, cooking or sweeping floors then just do it....


nepias : I can probably answer that: Electrical valve timing using higher voltage electric motors/magnets/actuators. The game is all about getting effiency up, so making a car without a cam will get the most results. A cam is noting more than an optimizing tool for 1 point in de rev range. V-tec was a cam for optimizing 2 points in the rev range, but  imagine an engine with a cam that would optimize timing on every point in the RPM range and you will gain a lot of efficienty in power and/or fuel efficienty. Getting it reliable is still a big issue though but that will probably be sorted in the next 10 years or so....


As far as I know, the regulations are determined by FIA in cooperation with teams. Why then did you agree to modify drivers' position (from half-laying to sitting), if it's more dangerous for drivers?


I have two questions for Mr. Wolfgang Hatz - 1. What do you think that the future of Porsche will be, regarding engine developments? 2.What will be the next big technology development to be implement to road cars from race cars?


Dear Mr Hatz,

In motorsport, the current energy recovery/generation systems are dependent on excessive heat (exhaust), heavy braking, or high speeds on fly wheels. 

How will these technologies be implemented on road cars that are not designed to run with these dependencies? Are their other efficient recovery/generation systems that are not dependent on excessive heat, heavy braking or the high speeds on fly wheels?


Just one question for Mr. Hatz,

Porsche is iconic for having the Boxer layout in its 911 models, is this V-4 turbo in the 919 the future with road Porsche models, such as the 911 family?

Ciaran @ GT_Europe

Mr Hatz, 

This is Porsches return to a very different Le Mans compared to your previous exploits in the days of GT1 and before.
Although you have been running the programme since before last year, what has been the biggest challenge to overcome to get the car on the LMP grid (from a technical or logistical prospective)? When you see the facilities and resources that Toyota and Audi have at their disposal, did you have to outsource much of the engineering and testing aspects of the project?

Secondly, given the excitement around this years Le Mans, the WEC as a whole, and the addition of new LMP-H and LMP-L teams next year, do you think we are entering a new "golden era" for endurance racing??


Ciaran @ GT_Europe

One more question that I think of it:

From a safety aspect for hybrid cars, how do you think the prototypes can be made safer to approach in the event of an accident since it appears that marshal's cannot approach the car until engineers deem it safe to do so? I'm curious after seeing the unfortunate accident with Loic Duval in testing.


What is keeping you awake at night?


Ciaran @ GT_Europe  And if you have a tank full with kerosene you think it is safer?????


goatlamb  NO.


aussieANON  ....and what is THE best engine ever made, in your opinion , and why.

Ciaran @ GT_Europe

greenroadster Ciaran @ GT_Europe

No not at all! My point is about the hybrid aspect of the cars, can there be a way that marshalls can approach the car safely. You can see flames but it's a different story when there's a lot of unspent electrical energy still preset in the car.


What's your opinion on the more under developed engine designs ie: swing pistons like the Kugel motor, MYT and rotary engines like the Ramgen and Wave Disc motor?
Also do you have any novel approaches to combustion that you have explored or wanted to explore?
One last question. As a powertrain developer, what body style/ drive layout would you choose to get the most out of a design?


Which is your favourite project, the one in which you put all your effort?


One Simple Question from my side:
What is your all time favourite car? :)


what is your current car project?
what is your daily ride?


Ciaran @ GT_Europe greenroadster  Point taken


baco audi


What benefit does a v4 engine have over a conventional straight 4 engine? Is it just the compactness?


Mr. Hatz, 

I have some rather tough questions for you regarding the decision to change the 991 RSR's front suspension to a wishbone setup. 

Because of these changes, the 991 RSR features a truly bespoke suspension configuration that has no relation to the road car. What are your thoughts on this change? If such a conversion is necessary to make the 911 competitive at that level of GT racing, what are the implications therein? Is the 911 outclassed in the upper echelons of GT racing? Should the production car feature a wishbone front suspension as well? What does it say about the future of the 911 if the racing version needs "special treatment" or homologation exemptions that the 911s competitors do not need?

Here's a little background info for everyone else's benefit. Whether we're talking about a 996 911 Cup car or 997 911 GT3 ALMS specification car, track-made Porsche 911s have always legitimately been production cars turned race cars. Granted, these cars were never showroom cars that were stripped down and built back up, as one would do with a tuner car. Rather, from the first second the steel sheet metal entered the assembly line to be stamped, those pieces were destined to become Porsche factory race cars. However, they were not to be tube frame facsimiles of Porsche 911s, nor were they to be chassis pieces that would modified to the point of being something altogether different than a road-going 911 (see the Cadillac CTS-V sedans that raced in the Speed World Challenge several years ago for an example of a production chassis that was hacked to pieces to the point it bore little resemblance to an actual production car - not to be confused with the Cadillacs which currently race in the series whose chassis are legitimate production car chassis). In short, for as long as Porsche has been racing 911s in the modern era, 911 race cars were essentially 911 production cars that were aggressively tuned for racing, but all of the production car configurations remained the same in the race version.

That has changed with the new 991 911 RSR. Unlike it's predecessors which had race-worthy versions of the same configuration of equipment as their road-going brothers, this new 991 911 RSR has a heavily modified front chassis section, on which pickup points for a wishbone suspension setup have been welded and the strut towers have been cut away. The 991 911 RSR's front suspension is fundamentally different than the road-going version.

Perhaps you're thinking, "who cares?" Well, I do, and for good reason. 

You see, racing a 911 has always been like taking a knife to a gun fight. Porsche has always done more with less, and that is, in my opinion, the very essence of what makes Porsche the greatest car company on earth. Some examples that apply to either the ALMS, FIA GT3, or even the Speed World Challenge: 

-Other manufacturers had advanced chassis made from aluminum, yet the 911's chassis was essentially as technologically advanced as a Honda Accord. So while the Corvette C6s, Audi R8s, Ferrari F430s or 458s, Panoz Esperantes, or Mercedes SLSs were built on state of the art aluminum space frames, the 911 had a lowly steel unibody chassis. But in spite of this apparent setback, 911s dominated. 

-The competitors used V8s, V10s, etc., the 911 used a lowly flat six cylinder engine. But in spite of this apparent setback, 911s dominated.

-The competitors often had longer wheelbases which made them more stable on high-speed turns, or a lower center of gravity, or a lower polar moment of inertia, were wider or sat lower. But in spite of this apparent setback, 911s dominated.

-Lastly, while all of the aforementioned competitors used unequal length wishbone setups in the front, 911s had but simple Macpherson strut front assemblies. But in spite of this apparent setback, 911s dominated.

While ever other car in its class would appear to out class the 911 based on specs and materials alone, 911s kept on winning, or at a minimum were incredibly competitive. But how? The answer is simple: Porsche engineering and constant refinement. In characteristic Porsche style, they engineered a knife that would win the gunfight because it was a car that performed consistently, was understood by its drivers and teams, and was as reliable as can be. Porsche made 911 race cars (just as they do with road cars) into vehicles that were greater than the sum of their parts. They didn't need homologation gimmicks to win. I, for one, find that to be awe inspiring. Rather than take the approach that everyone else took, which was to use all of the most expensive ingredients to make a three star meal, they used conventional ingredients combined with artful cooking to produce something equal or better than their competition.

And, most importantly, this was true all the way up and down the 911 racing spectrum. So whether you had a 911 GT3 Cup, 911 GT3 Cup S, 911 GT3 R, or 911 GT3 RSR, you had a genuine Porsche production-based race car. The underpinnings were the same at all ends of that spectrum. Sure, the brakes got bigger, the fenders got wider, and the horsepower went up the further you climbed the ladder, but they were all still essentially tuned versions of Porsche road cars, and that was awesome.


Gary89 the v4 configuration produces more torque than the straight 4


What were some of the challenges and benefits of returning to a class that has progressed so much since 1999 and how long has the 919 been in development?


2xthefun baco this year it seems to be toyota


s14 guy theres a tube that you pee into and you try to hold it if its a poop.


Dear Mr. Hatz,
Toyota has 4 litre engine, Audi has 3.7 litre, but Porsche 919 Hybrid has only 2.0 litre engine. I know that Porsche has two systems for recuperation energy, but are you sure that this engine has enough power to beat Audi and Toyota? It is not better to use bigger engine with bigger capacity?


Dear Mr Hatz,
You are member of board of management Porsche and so my question is that if you has time to work on Porsche 919 Hybrid or it is only work of other engineers of Porsche?

Thank you


Dear Mr Hatz,

Audi and Porsche are members of VW Group. Has Porsche some problems to persuade management of VW Group to enter to Le Mans? And is Audi reason why Porsche has very orginal engine system with small 2.0 engine and two systems for energy recovery? Is not Porsche handicapped because of Audi?

Thank you


Dear Mr Hatz,

Where we can see some pictures and informations about engineers of Porsche 919 Hybrid? I am think that this engineers (not only chief engineer) are same heroes as drivers. 

Thank you


Has Porsche considered bringing back the GT2 to motorsport? As the regulations currently allow up to 4000cc turbocharged engines in the GT PRO and AM categories, surely this must be a more competitve/efficient package to compete with the current crop of larger engine gt cars?


Imagine if You had to choose a car that You would have to run till grave. That includes autobahn, raceways, daily commute, erhm, well pretty much everything vehicle related. One choice, one car, multiple tasks.


Herr Hatz, 
Question 1 - why did you not bring the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo to market? I keep hearing that this was the test bed for the Macan, but surely this cannot be the whole truth? The Sport Turismo back end looks so much better!!!
Question 2 - how long till we see a "911 Coupe" of sorts? I have watched reviewers say that the Panamera feels like they are driving a 911, and that you forget it is a four door car. Frankly, I feel they are being overly-complimentary.  The car feels big! Consumers want a "911" that they can share with others; meaning a bigger back seat. Ferrari 612, Ferrari 599, Ferrari F12; all these cars are amazing and can still seat people in the back seat. How much longer must we wait.
Kind Regards,