Porsche Signs Neel Jani For Formula E
Former Porsche World Endurance Championship (WEC) driver and Le Mans winner, Neil Jani, is the first driver signing for Porsche’s 2019/2020 entry into FIA Formula E. Jani has been a Porsche works driver since 2013, in 2016 the Swiss driver won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche’s 919 Hybrid and became FIA WEC champion that same year. Porsche will make its debut in the fully electric Formula E single seater series at the end of 2019 – the sport’s sixth season. Importantly Jani already has experience of racing in Formula E, he made his debut in its fourth season with Dragon Racing, competing alongside former Formula One driver Jérôme d’Ambrosio for two races.
Though Porsche has yet to receive its first chassis (a new ‘Gen2’ Formula E car), it states that Jani will begin track testing in early 2019. Vehicle and battery units are standardised in Formula E, however powertrain components are developed individually – these partly road-relevant elements include the electric motor, inverter, gearbox, differential, drive shafts, the structure and suspension components attached to the rear axle, as well as the cooling system and ECU. Porsche’s in-house-developed drivetrain has already been on the test benches.
“Without doubt, Neel is the right man for our new technologically trendsetting programme,” said Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “Not only does he contribute speed, but he has a huge amount of single seater experience. He has already driven in Formula E and is well established in Weissach as a development driver.”
Though Jani is the first driver to become part of Porsche’s Formula E campaign it remains to be seen whether or not the 35-year old will actually race for the new squad, note the careful wording of Enzinger’s statement above… Porsche will field two cars for season six, former Toro Rosso Formula One driver Brendon Hartley is a hotly tipped option, 29-year old Hartley remained under contract to Porsche during his F1 foray. In addition, Porsche has a relationship with 37-year old André Lotterer, the German drove the 919 Hybrid in LMP1 during 2017. Lotterer undoubtedly has greater experience of Formula E than Jani, he too currently remains on Porsche’s books as a works driver.