Porsche stars not guar­an­teed FE drives

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS - GARY WATKINS

PORSCHE’S LMP1 DRIV­ERS ARE NOT guar­an­teed seats when the Ger­man mar­que en­ters For­mula E as a full works en­trant for sea­son six in 2019/20, but they will be at the front of the queue.

An­dreas Seidl, Porsche’s LMP1 team prin­ci­pal, ex­plained that the man­u­fac­turer’s pol­icy of re­cruit­ing from within its own ranks would be car­ried over from the LMP1 pro­gramme it runs in the World En­durance Cham­pi­onship, which fin­ishes at the end of this sea­son. All six P1 driv­ers will re­main un­der con­tract head­ing into 2018 and will be of­fered race pro­grammes for next sea­son, Porsche has promised.

“The idea is that we will con­tinue the his­tory that we have built up with th­ese guys in the next pro­gramme,” ex­plained Seidl. He stressed that it was “not a given” that two of the six will land the FE seats, but he said Porsche would “look in-house first like we did when we en­tered P1”.

Seidl sug­gested that An­dre Lot­terer and Neel Jani, who have deals to race for Techee­tah and Dragon Rac­ing in FE sea­son four in 2017/18 re­spec­tively, would not nec­es­sar­ily be able to jump ahead of the other LMP1 driv­ers in the queue for 2019/20 seats. He de­scribed their ar­range­ments as “pri­vate deals” that were “good for Porsche”.

Timo Bern­hard, Ro­main Du­mas and Marc Lieb were al­ready Porsche driv­ers when they joined the LMP1 squad on the mar­que’s re­turn to the top flight of sportscar rac­ing in 2014. Nick Tandy and Earl Bam­ber then stepped up from Porsche’s GT ros­ter to drive the third 919 Hy­brid at the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours, be­fore land­ing full-sea­son WEC drives for ’17. Bren­don Hart­ley has con­tested the two most re­cent For­mula 1 grands prix in the USA and Mex­ico for Toro Rosso, and the Ital­ian team’s boss Franz Tost said there was a “high pos­si­bil­ity” he could race for the squad full-time in 2018.

Porsche had a pres­ence at the of­fi­cial FE pre-sea­son test at Va­len­cia last month, em­bed­ding en­gi­neers with the Dragon team. Seidl would not be drawn on whether this ar­range­ment would con­tinue or whether it would seek a part­ner­ship with an ex­ist­ing team as it gears up for its FE en­try.

“We had guys in that garage [Dragon’s] and we were look­ing around other garages, too,” he ex­plained. “We used Va­len­cia as an op­por­tu­nity to have a first look and get an idea of what FE is, so that once this sea­son is fin­ished we can cre­ate a new struc­ture.”

On the sub­ject of an al­liance with one of the teams not af­fil­i­ated to a ma­jor man­u­fac­turer, he said: “We could, but ev­ery­thing is open at the mo­ment.”

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