There are very few racers in the world who can put "Porsche Works Driver" on their CV. That privilege is limited to perhaps no more than a few dozen racing drivers throughout history. Today Simona de Silvestro can call herself a works driver for the Porsche Formula E squad, netting a testing and development role to assist Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer in the team's first FE season which starts later this fall. The Swiss racer is, by my count, the first female Porsche factory racer in the company's history.
Simona has a long history of open-wheel motorsport, kicking off her pro career in Formula Renault and Formula BMW before jumping into Atlantics, which springboarded a career in Indycar, where she had 68 race starts. Near the end of the 2014-15 season of Formula E, she came on board with the Andretti team where she raced 12 races before getting signed to race for Nissan in the Australian V8 Supercars series. She's been racing in the Antipodes ever since, but has kept a toe in the Formula E pool, running as a test driver for Susie Wolff's Venturi team.
It's fair to say that she will be prepared to take on the challenge that Porsche's 99X Formula E car. The hope is that she will allow the car to be at its very best in a quasi-spec series where setup and infinitesimally small changes can make all the difference.
Porsche have also announced a promotion for Porsche Young Driver Thomas Preining to a test role with the Formula E team, as well as a full time endurance racing role in FIA WEC GTE-AM with Gulf Racing, and ADAC GT Masters with Herbert Motorsport.
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Porsche Motorsport and Group Motorsport Volkswagen AG): “In Simona and Thomas, we have acquired two proven talents for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. Simona comes with a wealth of experience gained in various different race series and is also a familiar face in Formula E. We are looking forward to working with her and welcome her to the Porsche family. Thomas has been with us since 2017, during which time he has demonstrated his talent in GT racing on numerous occasions. With the Formula E programme, we are giving Simona and Thomas the opportunity to develop as drivers and to make a positive contribution to the Porsche Formula E project.”
Simona De Silvestro (Porsche works driver): “It is a great honor to work for this prestigious brand. I am really looking forward to my new role as test and development driver for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. Over the last few years, I have gained a lot of experience from my previous involvements in Formula E. I will do my best to help Porsche on the road to success.”