Confirmation of Wehrlein’s Porsche deal comes more than two months after he announced his departure from Mahindra with a cryptic Instagram post stating that his “interest was to finish the season but the current situation doesn’t allow so.”
Mahindra team principal Dilbagh Gill confirmed to Inside Electric that he and Wehrlein had reached a “mutual agreement” to part ways back in May and, although unconfirmed until now, it’s been understood for some time that Wehrlein’s likely destination would be Porsche.
Wehrlein said of the move: “It is a great honour for me to represent Porsche in the 2020/2021 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. I have always followed the brand’s unique motorsport history. I have huge respect for the legendary Porsche success story. Now, to line up as a works driver for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team is a fantastic opportunity.
“I would like to thank everyone at Porsche for this amazing opportunity and for trusting in my skills. Now I am looking forward to getting to know the team and starting work in Weissach as quickly as possible”
Fritz Enzinger, Porsche’s head of motorsport, said: “We are delighted to welcome Pascal to the Porsche family. He has gained a lot of experience in different race series at his young age, where he has always sparkled.
“With Pascal and André we will have two experienced, top-class Formula E drivers in the 2020/2021 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, who have everything it takes to celebrate further success.”
Wehrlein’s switch to Porsche likely signals the end of his ambitions to return to F1, as next season will be his third season in Formula E and fourth since he last raced in F1 with Sauber.
The German has undertaken simulator duties with the Ferrari team in recent times since being released from the Mercedes junior programme, but was turned down for a 2020 Haas F1 seat due to his time spent away from the championship.
After seeing his 2018 Mahindra Formula E debut delayed over a Mercedes contract dispute, Wehrlein adapted quickly thereafter, scoring a podium in only his second race and lost a likely win on the last lap of his third after running low on usable energy.
With Mahindra suffering a slow start to the 2019-20 season, the ex-Sauber and Manor driver was unable to replicate the form he displayed during his early races with the team, however, in his 18 E-Prix as team-mate to Jerome d’Ambrosio he did outscore the experienced Belgian by 72 points to 55.
The news of Wehrlein’s arrival means that long-time Porsche factory driver Neel Jani’s Formula E career has come to an end. The 36-year-old Swiss driver has endured a frustrating time since he entered the championship, scoring just a single points finish in his 13 races with Porsche and former team Dragon.
Porsche expressed their thanks to the outgoing Jani for his “outstanding commitment” whilst also confirming that the Swiss driver will be “involved in future motorsport projects again very soon.”
The German manufacturer is evaluating a possible LMDh entry (new rules to allow convergence between WEC and IMSA) for 2022 and Jani is known to be keen having won both the Le Mans and WEC titles in the past with Porsche.