Jaguar Racing launched its Formula E debut on the 8th of September 2016, just weeks ahead of the 2016–17 Formula E Season 3, with electronics corporation Panasonic as its title sponsor.
Having previously competed as a works team Formula 1 from 2000 to 2004 with only 2 podiums and 49 constructor’s points to show for it, the Formula E entry was not only a chance to showcase Jaguar’s future endeavours in the world of electric road cars, but a chance to reinvent their reputation in motorsport as well. Unfortunately, Jaguar’s optimistic return to single-seater motorsport for the first time in over a decade was not met with stunning results, and they suffered a tough first season in Formula E.
After testing A1 GP champion Adam Carroll, Le Mans champion Harry Tincknell, and 2012 and 2014 GP3 champions Mitch Evans and Alex Lynn, Jaguar took on Formula E rookies Carroll and Evans as their drivers for the team’s rookie campaign.
Both drivers would go on to score points throughout the season, with Evans recording the team’s best result with a surprise 4th at the Mexico City ePrix. Evans brought home 22 points in 4 top 10 finishes, outscoring Carroll who only managed 5 points in 2 top 10 finishes. With only 27 points between their two drivers, the team finished the season in last place at the bottom of the constructor’s standings.
As expected in their first season, there were many teething problems and their I-TYPE 1 lacked outright pace and energy efficiency, despite the team’s extensive technical collaboration with Williams Grand Prix Engineering.
Moving on from the disappointment of the 2016-2017 season, Jaguar has retained Evans but dropped Carroll, opting to sign Formula E’s inaugural champion Nelson Piquet Jr from the NextEV/NIO team for their Season 4 assault. Evans was retained to reward his highly impressive qualifying pace and for scoring 22 of the team’s 27 points in the previous season. In an interview with Autosport, Jaguar team director James Barclay said he was “hugely excited” to sign Piquet and called Evans “one of the outstanding rookies of the season”.
The Indian-owned British team’s target for the 2017-18 season is to score points on a regular basis with the I-TYPE 2. Evans will be looking to impress further and for Piquet, the aim will be to score well after failing to finish in the top 10 in the driver’s championship since winning the inaugural title.
With the news that Mercedes and Porsche will join Formula E in time for Season 6, Jaguar must hope to be at the front and have some success in the sport before the German manufacturers join and the field increases by 4 cars, with 12 teams in total.
For now, the momentum must swing in the right direction for Jaguar. They have to meet their target of scoring points points on a regular basis in the 2017-18 season. For a brand that has not competed in motorsport in a long time, meeting this expectation could mean massive rewards for not only the Jaguar road car brand — it could put them properly back on the map of motorsport as well.