Porsche hasn’t entered in open-wheel racing as a constructor in decades, or even as an engine supplier since the 1990s. Indeed, Porsche’s last appearances as either in Formula 1 were in 1962 and 1991 respectively. The brand withdrew as an engine supplier from Indycar a year earlier in 1991. While Porsche’s role in Formula E will be somewhat different, as all teams use the same Spark-supplied chassis and McLaren-supplied battery pack, what Porsche brings to the table is an extraordinary level of driver experience, and electric motor racing engineering experience.
For our audience, the two drivers transitioning to Formula E really need no introduction. Most of us have been watching Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer move from success to success in endurance racing for the better part of a decade. Jani and Lotterer will be collectively the oldest drivers on the grid at 35 and 37 years old.
Of the pair, Lotterer brings the most Formula E experience, having run the full 2018-19 season with DS Techeetah. His 2018-19 season saw him on the podium twice, and he ended the season in 8th position of the 22 drivers who ran the majority of the season.
Lotterer and Jani in Open Wheel Racing
It is worth recapping Lotterer’s history with open wheel cars. Like many drivers he worked up through the lower Formulae, including championship wins in Formula BMW Junior and ADAC. Numerous seasons in Formula Nippon and Super Formula peaked with a 2011 championship win in Formula Nippon. Lotterer also served as a test driver during Jaguar’s short-lived foray into Formula 1 in the early 2000s.
Lotterer is joined by Neel Jani, who has served as one of Porsche’s Formula E test drivers alongside Bandon Hartley and Simona De Silvestro. Like Lotterer, Jani began in open wheel cars, with early professional forays into Formula Renault and the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup, the Swiss A1 Grand Prix series, as well as acting as a reserve driver in Formula 1, and competing in a season of ChampCar stateside. Jani holds a championship win in the A1 Grand Prix series, as well as a podium finish in ChampCar.
Both drivers have proven competitive right from the outset in virtually every series they’ve entered in prior to Formula E. This combination is sure to show Porsche as a power player in their inaugural season, bringing a pair of deeply experienced and successful drivers to the sport’s rapidly evolving field.
I’m getting excited for the upcoming season.