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

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

Photo by: Motorsport Images

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.

2007 Denso Sard Supra HR-V

2007 Denso Sard Supra HR-V
2/14

Photo by: Toyota

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.

2009 Corsa Motorsport Ginetta-Zytec 09HS

2009 Corsa Motorsport Ginetta-Zytec 09HS
3/14

Photo by: Jeff Kapic

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.

2009 McLaren MP4/24

2009 McLaren MP4/24
4/14

Photo by: Sutton Images

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.

2010 Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid

2010 Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid
5/14

Photo by: Andy Chan

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.

2011 Oreca Swiss HY Tech-Hybrid

2011 Oreca Swiss HY Tech-Hybrid
6/14

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

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.

2011 Red Bull Racing RB7

2011 Red Bull Racing RB7
7/14

Photo by: Sutton Images

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.

2012 Audi R18 e-tron quattro

2012 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
8/14

Photo by: ACO/Nikon

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.

2012 Toyota TS030 Hybrid

2012 Toyota TS030 Hybrid
9/14

Photo by: Ed Fahey

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.

2012 Toyota Prius GT

2012 Toyota Prius GT
10/14

Photo by: Hisao Sakakibara

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

2012 Honda CR-Z GT

2012 Honda CR-Z GT
11/14

Photo by: Andy Chan

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

2014 Mercedes AMG W05 Hybrid

2014 Mercedes AMG W05 Hybrid
12/14

Photo by: Sutton Images

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.

2014- 15 Honda NSX Concept GT

2014- 15 Honda NSX Concept GT
13/14

Photo by: Nakajima Racing

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.

2018 Toyota TS050 Hybrid

2018 Toyota TS050 Hybrid
14/14

Photo by: Toyota Racing

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