After more than 30 years away from single-seater racing Porsche is back, starting testing the new 99X Electric car at the official test drives of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship for the 2019/2020 season in Valencia, Spain.
Last week, Neel Jani and André Lotterer, the drivers for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, joined rival manufacturers at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia for three days of track testing ahead of the championship’s launch on 22—23 November 2019.
The 2019/2020 season sees Porsche enter the Formula E fray against the biggest line-up of manufacturers in the contest’s history, with 10 manufacturers and overall 12 teams lining up on the starting grid.
One man focussed on those early races is André Lotterer, who joined Porsche this summer but who believes his team will learn a lot. And, he points out that new rules being introduced this year by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), present an opportunity for engineers to play an increased role in the path to victory.
There will for sure be a lot of things to learn for our first race together, but I will try to give them the most from my experience as possible. To be part of Formula E is fantastic. For me it is the place to be, the best professional environment, and for sure the race series of the future.’
Lotterer has been a Porsche works driver since 2017 and has also been active in the electric race series since the 2017/2018 season. In July, Porsche announced he was joining the manufacturer’s TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team to partner with Swiss racer Neel Jani. Jani has been a works driver since 2013 and 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.
Asked about his first race in a pure electric car, Jani said:
Special and very unknown I would say, because it is absolutely an adventure with many new aspects, and I will call it definitely a very new challenge in my life. But I personally look very much forward to finally kick off our debut season very soon.
The Circuit looks very tricky, very challenging and very technical. So, we are pleased to have a good simulator where we can hopefully really learn the track by heart at home in Germany. Obviously, we prepare the car as well as possible, but in the end, we are still a new team and there are a lot of thing we need to learn, for example how to handle a weekend, which we cannot learn at home. So, the first race will be a big challenge for us.’
Like all ‘Gen 2’ cars on the track, the Porsche 99X Electric will feature the same chassis and battery as its rivals, as per FIA rules, however, all powertrain components are developed by manufacturers. This gives Porsche engineers free rein over the electric motor, inverter, brake-by-wire system, transmission, differential, driveshafts, the suspension components attached to the rear-axle, as well as the cooling system and the engine control unit, the ECU.
The energy efficiency of the powertrain plays a decisive role in the competition, especially this year as new rules introduced by FIA mean a greater emphasis on this vital area, as drivers cannot conserve energy during race stoppages. It is a return to the early days of Formula E that saw rash drivers run out of power and stop metres from the finish line.
More information about Porsche in Doha is available at the Porsche Centre Doha. The Porsche Centre Doha (Al Boraq Auto) on The Pearl-Qatar will be pleased to arrange a test drive of any of its sports cars and sporty SUVs for Marhaba readers. Call 4459 9666 or visit their website.