Neel Jani Had Talks with Formula E teams

Current Porsche LMP1 driver Neel Jani talks to Edward Hunter about discussions he had with several Formula E teams earlier in the year  

Swiss driver Neel Jani, 32 was interested in joining Formula E over the summer and has had talks with multiple Formula E teams ahead of the second season of the all-electric single-seater championship last summer.

However, due to his commitment to Porsche, the 32-year old was unable to finalise a deal with any Formula E team ahead of the 2015/2016 campaign.

“I’ve talked to several teams already. However, I had to focus on the Porsche project and really give my best there, but we’re talking at the moment to some teams.

“Maybe suddenly, if the situation is correct and Porsche agrees for me to race in the series, then I might add it to my programme,” said Jani.

The former A1GP champion still feels the appeal of single-seater racing is there for him and the ability to have his own car is tempting to the Swiss driver.

“Watching it on TV it looks like great racing, and the possibility of not sharing a car is for sure something appealing, and it has good drivers so the competition is high.”

Porsche had success with its GT3R winning its first race in the World Endurance Championship in 2011 with a Williams Hybrid Power flywheel. WHP is now Williams Advanced Engineering, the company that designed the batteries used in each Formula E car and will also develop the powertrain for Jaguar’s return to motorsport next season.

Even with the Williams Advanced Engineering link, driving for another manufacturer like Jaguar could potentially create a conflict of interest. When pressed further Jani was very clear about his loyalty to Stuttgart.

“Clearly my priority will always stay with Porsche. It’s the brand where I want to be long term and it’s a great place to be; it has a great future and great perspective there.

“Formula E could be interesting, but which team and what…we would have to see,” said Jani.

Jani has been making waves in WEC in recent years, twice finishing 3rd in the championship in the Porsche 919 hybrid with teammates Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas, as well as breaking the lap record during qualifying at Le Mans last year. His credentials are quite high, as is his availability due to Formula E not clashing with WEC thanks to the large amount of Jani’s peers who also compete in the series, such as Toyota’s Sebastien Buemi and Audi’s Lucas Di Grassi.

However, for Formula E, it is great that the sport is attracting the attention of drivers who have created a solid reputation for themselves, and it will be interesting to see if Porsche allows Jani to drive in Formula E in the future.

The full interview with Jani conducted by Edward Hunter for the Addicted to Formula One Facebook page can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/PAqtcQIbhJ8