24h Le Mans
17/06/2016 14:00

Marc Lieb (#2 Porsche): do engineers make good drivers? And vice-versa?

Many drivers shelve their studies in favour of a career in motorsport at a relatively early age. Porsche LM P1 works driver Marc Lieb, on the other hand, is one of a rare group to boast a PhD in engineering. What effect does his education have on his driving?

Marc Lieb (#2 Porsche): do engineers make good drivers? And vice-versa?

Marc Lieb spent more than ten years in GT with Porsche before being selected by the German manufacturer to join its LM P1 adventure in 2014. The switch resulted in a radical change to his role: “In GT, I was more involved because I was working as an engineer during the week and driving at the weekend. It’s impossible in LM P1 because the cars are so complex and the engineers are really specialised in a particular field. So I now focus solely on driving. I have really enjoyed driving over the last three years because that’s all I have done.”

Given the complexity of the LM P1 prototypes, we might expect an engineering degree to improve your driving: “It makes no difference at all! With my background, I simply understand the engineers’ explanations quicker. I also switch to ‘driver’ mode and totally blank out my engineer side. Being a good engineer does not necessarily mean that you are a good driver because it is important to remember that there is a human being between the steering wheel and the seat, and not a machine. Knowing the braking points does not mean that you will brake at the right place – you still have to put the theory into practice!”

Good engineers therefore do not necessarily make good drivers and the opposite holds true too as the machines are increasingly complex. However Lieb’s engineering career is far from over as he will once again don his engineer's cap when he hangs up his driver’s helmet for the last time. With no regrets: “I’m aware that I’m reaching the end of my career [he will be 36 on 4 July], but at least I have been lucky enough to have had the excitement of driving a LM P1 prototype for a few years.”

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