Neel Jani switching to the cockpit of a Formula E car

Neel Jani switching to the cockpit of a Formula E car

Neel Jani
photo: Porsche

Porsche has signed it first driver for Formula E – Neel Jani. The new works team will begin track testing early in 2019 to prepare for the fully electric series’ sixth season. Porsche is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first standardised chassis to install its in-house-developed drive train. The power unit has already been on the test benches.

Neel Jani has been a Porsche works driver since 2013

At the wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid he took outright victory at Le Mans in 2016 and became FIA World Endurance Champion the same year. Between 2014 and the end of 2017, the 35-year-old won four races in the 919 while securing nine pole positions and four fastest race laps. In 2018 he smashed the track record at Spa-Francorchamps (BE), where he beat the then Formula One benchmark with the 919 Hybrid Evo. Jani began his career in single seaters, climbing up to Formula One as a test driver.

“Without doubt, Neel is the right man for our new technologically trendsetting programme,” says 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.”

“I’m very much looking forward to the new task,” Jani enthuses

“Being part of an entirely new Porsche Motorsport programme for the second time, right from the beginning, means a lot to me. The technical and driving challenges are huge and our strong Formula E opponents have a significant advantage in experience. There is a lot of work ahead of us and I can’t wait for the roll-out.”

Porsche’s Formula E entry is part of wide-ranging changes at the company. In parallel to the first electric Porsche race car, the new Taycan will go on the market. The brand’s first road-going sports car also generates its performance with no combustion engine involved. Porsche created 1,500 new jobs for the launch of the Taycan alone. “Production 4.0” requires fundamental new processes and is set to be carbon neutral.

The Formula E programme has an important position within the company’s future strategy

Motorsport and production vehicle experts work side by side at the research and development centre in Weissach. One of the results of this close working relationship and knowledge-sharing is the Taycan’s 800 Volt technology. It combines huge range and short charging times with an impressive performance output. The base fot this high voltage technology is the pioneering engineering which mastered three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with 919 Hybrid. The battery and cooling management, as well as the development of production cars, have benefitted from the experience gained in motorsport. Now the electric racing series will also focus on the development of key technology and energy management.

Vehicle changes will no longer take place during Formula E races. The vehicle and battery unit are standard items for all teams. Meanwhile, all powertrain components are developed individually and in-house at Porsche. 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.