Gallery: History of hybrid cars in motorsport

Hybrid racing cars may have become commonplace only recently, but their presence in motorsport harks back to the late 1990s.

Gallery: History of hybrid cars in motorsport
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Exactly 20 years ago American high-performance car manufacturer Panoz made history when it debuted the Q9 GTR-1 Hybrid at the Le Mans 24 Hours. But perhaps the car was ahead of its time and it would take another 10 years before the next hybrid machine contested a race.

Nowadays hybrid technologies have become sophisticated to the point that they form the core of Formula 1 and FIA World Endurance Championship regulations.

F1 added KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) as an optional feature in 2009, before making a switch to full-hybrids in '14. Endurance racing's hybrid era started two years earlier in 2012, when the new-formed WEC series made hybrids mandatory for all manufacturers in the top-tier LMP1 class.

In addition to F1 and WEC, hybrid racing cars can also be seen in the GT300 class of Super GT, Japan's premier sportscar championship.

1998 Panoz Q9
1998 Panoz Q9
1/14
Nicknamed Sparky, the Panoz Q9 Hybrid made a grand debut at the 1998 Le Mans 24 Hours race. Its makers had hoped that the additional electric power would lead to fewer pitstops, thus greatly increasing the chances of a strong finish. However, the batteries ended up having a negative effect, making the car too heavy and it couldn't even qualify for the race.

Photo by: Motorsport Images

2007 Denso Sard Supra HR-V
2007 Denso Sard Supra HR-V
2/14
With three electric motors and a super capacitor, Team Sard's Supra HR-V won the 2007 Tokachi 24 Hours, a now-defunct sportscar race that formed a part of Super Taikyu championship in Japan.

Photo by: Toyota

2009 Corsa Motorsport Ginetta-Zytec 09HS
2009 Corsa Motorsport Ginetta-Zytec 09HS
3/14
The Ginetta-Zytech 09HS competed at the Lime Rock round of American Le Mans Series in 2009, finishing on the podium with Johnny Mowlem and former F1 driver Stefan Johannson at the wheel.

Photo by: Jeff Kapic

2009 McLaren MP4/24
2009 McLaren MP4/24
4/14
F1 introduced an optional KERS system in 2009. Lewis Hamilton became the first driver to win an F1 race in a KERS-powered car when he piloted the McLaren MP4/24 to victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Photo by: Sutton Images

2010 Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid
2010 Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid
5/14
After making its first public appearance at the Geneva Motor Show, the Porsche 911 GT3 Hybrid was seen in action at the Nurburgring 24 Hours. Thanks to a flywheel-type hybrid system, the 911 GT3 Hybrid could complete 10 laps per stint as compared to 8 for its petrol-only rivals. Unfortunately, the car had to be retired two hours before the chequered flag.

Photo by: Andy Chan

2011 Oreca Swiss HY Tech-Hybrid
2011 Oreca Swiss HY Tech-Hybrid
6/14
Hope Racing fielded a hybrid prototype car at the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours. Based on an Oreca 01 chassis and a 2-litre turbo engine, the car exploited an F1-style KERS system to produce extra power. However, Hope Racing could complete only 115 laps before retiring the car.

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

2011 Red Bull Racing RB7
2011 Red Bull Racing RB7
7/14
With 12 victories out of 19 races, Red Bull dominated the 2011 Formula 1 season with its KERS-assisted RB7. Only three teams not chose to run KERS in 2009.

Photo by: Sutton Images

2012 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
2012 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
8/14
With a diesel engine at heart and an electric motor attached to it, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro became the first hybrid car to win Le Mans in 2012.

Photo by: ACO/Nikon

2012 Toyota TS030 Hybrid
2012 Toyota TS030 Hybrid
9/14
Toyota returned to top-flight endurance competition in 2012 with its TS030 Hybrid. The car skipped the opening two rounds at Sebring and Spa, only making its debut at Le Mans. It failed to finish the race but came back stronger towards the end of the season, winning at Sao Paulo, Fuji and Shanghai.

Photo by: Ed Fahey

2012 Toyota Prius GT
2012 Toyota Prius GT
10/14
Apr fielded a hybrid Toyota Prius in the GT300 class of Super GT in 2012, scoring a best finish of second at Fuji.

Photo by: Hisao Sakakibara

2012 Honda CR-Z GT
2012 Honda CR-Z GT
11/14
In the following season, Team Mugen took the GT300 title with its hybrid Honda CR-Z GT.

Photo by: Andy Chan

2014 Mercedes AMG W05 Hybrid
2014 Mercedes AMG W05 Hybrid
12/14
Formula 1 adopted full-hybrid technology in 2014, with power generated both from regenerative braking (MGU-K) and the heat released from exhaust gases. There was a change in the Internal Combustion Unit (ICU) too, with 1.6-litre V6s replacing the old 2.4-litre V8s. Mercedes sweeped both drivers and constructors' title in the first year of hybrid era.

Photo by: Sutton Images

2014- 15 Honda NSX Concept GT
2014- 15 Honda NSX Concept GT
13/14
Hybrid cars weren't limited to just the GT300 class of Super GT. Honda raced the hybrid version of NSX Concept GT in the flagship GT500 category between 2014-15, but was forced to abandon it before the start of the '16 season as the negatives simply outweighed the positives.

Photo by: Nakajima Racing

2018 Toyota TS050 Hybrid
2018 Toyota TS050 Hybrid
14/14
Following the departure of Audi and Porsche, Toyota has been left out as the sole manufacturer in WEC's LMP1 class.

Photo by: Toyota Racing

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