At only 25-years-old, Pascal Wehrlein has a very impressive racing résumé. From the youngest-ever DTM champion to a two-year stint in Formula 1, the German driver shocked many when he made the jump to Formula E in 2018.
Wehrlein signed for Mahindra Racing, a surprising move especially given that more and more top manufacturers were showing an interest in the all-electric championship. When Wehrlein joined for the start of the 2018/9 season, BMW, Audi and Nissan had all become works teams with long-term commitments.
HWA had also entered the championship at the start of the season too, which then became the Mercedes EQ Formula E team from the 2019/20 season onwards. Joining the soon-to-be Mercedes team didn’t seem like a viable option for Wehrlein though, after his relationship with the Mercedes’ family ended in a bitter split at the end of 2018.
“I can not say too much but there were some other seats in Formula E,” Wehrlein discussed with me back when he made his debut at the 2018/19 Formula E testing.
“[Signing with Mahindra] allowed me to do something else. I will probably have something else to announce soon for what else I will do alongside Formula E and that influenced the decision”.
That ‘announcement’ was that Wehrlein was to be joining Ferrari as a development driver for their F1 team working in a new simulator at Maranello and is a role he has continued into 2020.
It is no secret that Wehrlein was wanting to balance his Formula E career with another championship. He has always been actively involved in other series and events throughout his young career; from DTM and a reserve role at the Mercedes F1 team to taking the step up to a full-time drive in F1 and still making time for the Race Of Champions with fellow countryman Sebastien Vettel.
It is likely that joining a team that has racing commitments elsewhere, such as Porsche or Audi, would be something on Wehrlein’s radar going forward and a bonus incentive to make the move to another team on the Formula E grid.
Mahindra had previously entered motorcycle racing but terminated their involvement with Moto3 at the end of 2017, putting all their resources into Formula E.
With Audi pulling out of DTM at the end of this year, moving to a team like Porsche makes logical sense and would likely see Wehrlein also balance his time in Formula E with commitments in the GT works racing series.
When Porsche entered Formula E at the start of the 2019/20 season, they brought with them André Lotterer and Neel Jani. Lotterer had experience with Formula E having raced with Techeetah and Jani had previously competed in just two Formula E races with Dragon Racing, before quitting with immediate effect.
Jani’s experience with Formula E has unfortunately not improved after his move to Porsche and he currently has no points in the championship standings after five races.
Inside Electric understands that Wehrlein could replace Jani at Porsche and race alongside Lotterer at the German works team.
As well as having another racing series to balance alongside Formula E with a potential move to Porsche, Wehrlein might also desire being part of a works team once again. Porsche have arrived on the Formula E scene as the new kids on the block, but impressed us all when they secured a second place finish in their very first race.
With bigger budgets and a deeper-rooted history in motorsport, perhaps Wehrlein is keen to distinguish himself with a bigger manufacturer such as Porsche.
Of course, Wehrlein might also decide to leave Formula E entirely. He has experience in many categories of racing, both single seater and touring cars and with silly season in championship’s like F1 well underway, there could be a possibility of joining the F1 circus once again.
Talks of taking Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault seat have been thrown around as a potential option, or maybe Wehrlein will continue his relationship with Ferrari and move to Alfa Romeo for 2021.
Rumours will continue to circulate until a statement is made, but all we do know is that Pascal Wehrlein has departed Mahindra Racing.
In a statement on his Instagram, he said:
“From today onwardsm, I will no longer be part of Mahindra Racing. My interest was to finish the season but the current situation doesn’t allow so. I can’t say much about my future but will keep you informed. Thank you for all your support and see you soon on track again.”
Despite Mahindra being part of Formula E since its inception, the team have struggled in recent seasons and been unable to replicate their successes that they experienced at the start of the 2017/18 season.
“Mahindra doesn’t have a lot of people and is a smaller team, one of the smaller teams,” Wehrlein explained recently on the Inside Electric Podcast.
“You are fighting against these big brands, they are trying everything they can and with the abilities they have, they get the advantage. One of that is to look into data and they have a lot of people working for the best possible set up.”
In the podcast episode which you can find on all podcast platforms, Wehrlein goes on to say that his goal is a championship in Formula E. Clearly, he believes that this will not be possible anymore with the Mahindra Racing team.
Inside Electric also reached out to Porsche on the current rumours that Wehrlein would join the team.
“Various rumours about drivers for the upcoming 2020/2021 Formula E season are currently circulating. After Porsche announced at the start of June its withdrawal from the IMSA US sportscar championship at the end of 2020 due to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, we will first be sitting down with our experienced works drivers. We ask for your understanding that we will not be commenting on any personal information at present.”