Amid the steel and glass spires of capital, and the lapping green waters of Kowloon way, Panasonic Jaguar Racing made its FIA Formula E debut this season at the opening race in Hong Kong’s iconic central harbour-front district.
If you don’t know your motoring history, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that Jag is intent on a comeback, in more ways than one. With Tata’s backing, the storied marque is angling to play its substantial motor sport legacy forward, entering a full manufacturer two-car team in Formula E, the all-electric single-seater series that brings racing to the heart of some of the world great urban centres.
For James Barclay, Team Director Panasonic Jaguar Racing the Hong Kong launch was the litmus test he’d been waiting for. “We’ve learnt a great deal from our pre-season test and development programme, but there is nothing like real race experience to give us an understanding of what we need to achieve our potential.” He said. In a sense, Barcaly got what he was hoping for with a 12th place finish in Hong Kong— plenty of real world data to draw on, and improve on.
“Panasonic Jaguar Racing can take away many positives from our Formula E debut in Hong Kong. The team and drivers have not raced before in Formula E and we have bedded in as a team, gelled well and learned a huge amount. Our energy conservation in the race was second to none and we have been encouraged by our consistent race pace which saw us move forward through the field. There is good baseline on which to build, and we look forward to Marrakesh and continuing our development.” He said.
Manning the controls, British driver Adam Carroll, 33, and New Zealander Mitch Evans, 22, raced Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s first all-electric Jaguar racecar, the I-TYPE, in the 14-round series which will conclude in Montreal in July 2017.
“It [was] a historic moment for Jaguar as a team to be embarking on this new journey in electric racing.” Said Adam Carroll. “We have a big opportunity to inspire fans around the world and reach the next generation of EV drivers in new and innovative ways. As drivers, we are here to race but it is important to remember why we are here and the legacy of our Formula E programme in writing a new chapter in Jaguar’s history.”
Mitch Evans was similarly enthused: “In just two seasons, Formula E has established itself as a real drivers’ championship. It has probably the most competitive driver line-up in the world and includes many ex-F1 and IndyCar drivers and a lot of current FIA World Endurance Championship drivers. The championship also offers some of the most thrilling racing in the world. We have a lot to learn in the season ahead but rest assured we will be racing hard. It has been my dream to be a works driver...”
Jag says its Formula E programme will create tangible R&D benefits for the electrification of future Jaguar Land Rover road cars and is designed around the team’s intense focus on innovation.
For the uninitiated, formula E races last 50 minutes and includes a mandatory pit stop, in which drivers switch to a second car adding another element to the exciting competition. Drivers face unique challenges in Formula E as they have to manage battery consumption and regeneration of the battery to maintain charge throughout the race.
Under the rules, manufacturers can design their own powertrains, which includes the motor, transmission,inverter and the rear suspension. Common components across all teams include the carbon fibre chassis and battery to help control costs. The focus is on developing electric vehicle powertrains.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s I-TYPE features an MGU (Motor Generated Unit) with a maximum power output of 200kW and with a maximum speed of 140mph. Power is delivered via a paddle shift sequential gearbox.
Beyond its all-electric concept, Formula E places a keen interest on its choice of venues. Every round, bar one in Mexico, takes place on street circuits, in the centre of major cities. Track action, including practice, qualifying and racing, takes place in a single day, apart from at the two-day double-header races in New York and the season-finale in Montreal. Here’s wishing the Jag team luck as the navigate the season.