He is a Swiss racing driver of Indian Gujarati origin who began karting in 1998. In 2000 he moved up to Formula Lista Junior for a year before moving to the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup and then the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup.
He raced in the GP2 series from 2005 to 2006 with Racing Engineering and stepping in for a race with Arden. He put his name in the record books as the only person at that time to drive F1 and GP2 on the same day as he was test driver for Formula One team Toro Rosso. In GP2 he won at the Hungaroring and Monza.
He combined his GP2 driving to race in A1GP for Team Switzerland. He took the championship in 2007/08 and finished second the following season. He switched to the Champ Car World Series for 2007 but it was his move to sportscar racing which heralded even greater success.
Driving for Rebellion from 2012 to 2013 in the World Endurance Championship he caught the eye of Porsche and made the move to factory driver in 2014.
In 2016 came his greatest success by not only winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans but securing the World Endurance Drivers’ championship with Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas.
He is a reigning world champion….these are his Quick 10 questions and he is…..
1. What is your favourite circuit and why?
Le Mans and the old Kyalami circuit are my favorite. Both are kind of old school race tracks where one small mistake could result in a big crash. It takes a lot of skill to go quick. You really have to know the limits and drive very precise.
2. Who is/was your racing idol?
I had several idol’s growing up from skiing to racing. I was, and still am, always impressed by the attitude and ability to perform under the extreme pressure of competition. It doesn’t matter which sport you do, the pressure is the same.
3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?
For 2017, Toyota will be our toughest opponent.
4. Considering racers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which two racers would you have in your team?
Jim Clark and Juan Pablo Montoya
5. If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Muhammad Ali, Roger Federer, Mahatma Ghandi
6. Personal racing number? What is it and the reason behind it?
#18. It gave me a lot good memories in 2002 during my Formula Renault year.
7. What is the best race you have been involved in?
A1 GP Durban because I was sick and I still won the race! My Le Mans 2016 victory because it was a race for the history books and it was an emotional roller coaster
8. Is there a race or series you have not competed in, that you would like to or had wanted to?
No, I am very happy how things went in my career. Everything has a reason!
9. How did you get into motor racing? What ignited that spark?
My family got me into racing, luckily, and we only lived about 5km from a go kart track and the home of Swiss Hutless Karts
10. What is the best advice in racing you have been given?
Give your best and you can be happy, because you cannot do more.
I would like to thank Neel Jani for taking the time out from his busy schedule to answer the Quick 10 and wish him the very best for the forthcoming season. An absolute honour for me to be able to put these questions to a reigning World Champion.
See you at the chequered flag.