In what has to be considered a great boost for the fledgling electric car racing series, Jaguar has officially launched their Formula E team for the 2016/2017 season. Joining Jaguar in the effort are title sponsor Panasonic and automotive supplier Lear Corporation as partner. The full name for the team will be Panasonic Jaguar Racing.
Jaguar has been absent from top-tier racing since its F1 team became Red Bull Racing back in 2004. The new chassis, dubbed I-Type 1, was developed with Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Williams team of Formula 1. This is the third season for the Formula E series, and that means that Jaguar will have some catching up to do in the garage, not just on the track. The team is aware of that, with team director James Barclay saying, "Our competitors have a two-year head start. We will be keeping our expectations in check in our first season. Ultimately, we’re here to win but we’re here to innovate, too."
Jaguar hopes that the lessons learned through running electric race cars will translate directly to their upcoming electric road cars. Nick Rogers, executive director of product engineering at Jaguar Land Rover, said, "The championship will enable us to engineer and test our advanced technologies under extreme performance conditions. We will apply this vital knowledge as part of our real-world development." More optimistically, he predicted that we will see road cars using the race car tech in the very near future. The battery tech (including fast charging and heat management), control systems and the motors are all places where experience gained from the track can benefit road cars.
The drivers will be former GP3 series champion Mitch Evans, alongside Adam Carroll, who has won the A1 Grand Prix and was involved with other Formula E teams as a potential replacement driver during the 2015/16 season. When asked why the company chose the electric series over Le Mans, F1, or Touring Cars, team chairman Gerd Mauser identified Formula E as “an innovative series with competitive, close racing in front of urban audiences. It develops EV tech and helps change the perception of electric cars."
Jaguar joins Renault in the series, with Audi expected to have a full factory effort from 2017 and Volvo rumoured to be considering entering the fray. The third season of Formula E gets charged up starting in Hong Kong on October 9th. And those aqua stripes running around the car? They're the same colour as the ambient lighting in a Jag XE. Sometimes it's the race car that borrows from the road car.