Jaguar has a long and illustrious history in motorsport and recently returned to competitive racing, entering in the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship. Designing, developing and building a car and a globe-trotting team from scratch in just nine months was the task conferred to Team Director James Barclay. No pressure then…
- From Hong Kong...
- ...to Buenos Aires
Why did Jaguar make the decision to return to motor racing after such a long gap?
We’ve always had a watching brief on a return to the sport – although, it had to be relevant to our product plans and ambitions. Electrification is a very important part of Jaguar’s future and Formula E offered a perfect opportunity for a real-world test bed for our new technologies – and a platform on which to promote our battery electric vehicle plans. The timing could not have been better.
How has your own experience helped to bring Jaguar back into motor racing?
A motor sport programme that’s aligned to a brand’s strategy and core product plan is a powerful contributor to raise awareness and appeal. Having witnessed this first hand as part of a successful racing team, my past experience has helped (Barclay has worked on successful motorsport programmes with Bentley and Lotus and started out his career as a driver before moving into management positions in the industry). But ultimately, it’s our highly experienced and professional technical and commercial team that has made this incredibly exciting project a reality.
What is the size of your team and how long did you have to recruit?
We have a team of just under 40 people that covers all technical and commercial activities. From the point that we confirmed our plan to enter into the championship, to having a fully operational team, took around nine months.
Which roles did you fill first?
The key technical positions involved in the design and development of our first battery electric racing car, the Jaguar I-TYPE 1, were the initial roles – and this was quickly followed by the core positions to establish the framework from a commercial operations perspective.
What was the process of signing the drivers?
Quite simply, we looked for the fastest drivers who could understand and deal with the unique challenges that exist in Formula E. With Mitch and Adam we have two great drivers that are capable of being successful in this very competitive championship.
- Mitch Evans checks his mirrors
- James Barclay with Mitch Evans
What were the challenges and advantages of entering an established championship?
The main challenge, as a brand-new team coming into the championship, is that the other manufacturers and teams have enjoyed a two-year head start. Formula E also has a very restricted testing allowance; therefore, we had to learn from each race in this, our inaugural year in the championship. This year is our learning year, the competition is very tough and extremely professional, so it’s a significant challenge. But we embrace this and it makes each step forward more rewarding as a team.
Jaguar has an incredible racing history. How does this legacy impact on your approach?
We’re all incredibly proud to be part of Jaguar’s return to the sport and, as a team, we’re all passionate and dedicated to bring Jaguar back to the top step of the podium, while writing the next chapter of Jaguar’s success on the track. Our past success is a huge motivator for everyone in the team and a responsibility we take very seriously.
In general terms, what kind of things do you learn from each competitive outing the team makes?
Each race provides us with valuable data and insight, which allows us to analyse how we can continue to optimise the performance of the Jaguar I-Type and the team. Car set-up, team operations and driver performance are continually being refined and developed to help drive the team forward. Ultimately, learning how to get the best out of every single aspect of the team is what we take away each time the car and team turns a wheel.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing entered the FIA Formula E Championship in November 2016 at the start of season three.