Neel Jani says that returning to single-seaters after a decade competing largely in endurance competition does not faze him, and that he can count on his experience in close LMP1 battles to help in Porsche’s Formula E debut.
His brief appearance for Dragon Racing aside, Jani last permanently raced a single-seater in 2009 for Team Switzerland in the final season of the A1 Grand Prix series.
But the 2016 FIA World Endurance Champion has previous knowledge of racing on street tracks as he competed a full season of ChampCar in 2007, as well as four campaigns in A1 GP which used some street tracks.
Jani believes that the intensity of competition during the 2014-17 period of WEC kept his wheel-to-wheel instincts honed as he prepares for Porsche’s race debut later this year.
“In the LMP1 when we had the battles with Audi and Toyota we sometimes had proper fights on track like at Silverstone in 2015 and the fight I had with Marcel [Fassler] which was a big one hour battle,” Jani told e-racing365.
“There have been other moments, so it won’t be that much of a change. I think the bigger change will just be racing on street courses [again].”
Jani also said that the continuity of staff being carried over from the Porsche 919 Hybrid program will be a key benefit for the evolution and maturing of the Formula E program.
“Clearly it helps when people know each other and trust each other,” said Jani.
“In the Formula E team we have the spirit we had in the 919 Hybrid program because there are so many of the same people around.
“The engineers know they can trust me and it is the same thing with the mechanics and it is a good way to start the program but we also still need to see if we can then turn it in to performance at a later stage.”
Jani Revels in Technical Understanding
Neel Jani thinks that his technical aptitude in already understanding some of the make-up of electrical powertrains will help the development of the Porsche’s first ever all-electric race car.
Jani was lauded for his quick and precise learning of the complex Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 car by engineers during that program.
“My understanding of electric powertrains has changed massively in the past few years,” he said.
“In 2013 when I joined Porsche for the 919 Hybrid first test I knew what an electrical motor was but I wasn’t aware of the possibilities of how to make it better or how to customize it etc., but now my knowledge has grown massively.”
Jani will work with several key staff who also made up the senior team on the 919 Hybrid program. These include project leader Malte Huneke and team manager Amiel Lindesay.
This week’s test at Calafat saw Porsche complete over 600 miles of running across three days with Jani joined by test and development driver Brendon Hartley.