BIRMINGHAM, England—There was really no new information announced Thursday at the Jaguar Collections Center, as many of the details regarding Jaguar’s entry into Formula E, beginning with the Hong Kong season-opener in a month, have already leaked out.
But for Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E and its most tireless advocate during the past two undeniably challenging years, the formal presentation of the car, the three drivers and a major team partner, Panasonic, must have seemed like a confirmation of the series’ future.
After all, Agag said, “Jaguar is the first premium manufacturer to join the series, and we know more are coming.”
Indeed there are, including Audi—which already appears in name with Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport—and very likely BMW.
The Jaguar driver lineup is low on star power, but it’s certainly a qualified trio: Adam Carroll, 33; Mitch Evans, 22 and the youngest driver in the field; and reserve driver Ho-Pin Tung, 33, who may be the best-known to U.S. audiences, having driven sports cars and Indy cars.
Carroll, from Northern Ireland, has had a career that includes karting, F3, GP2, A1GP, IndyCar and WEC. He has been the main test driver for the Jaguar. Which will be known, by the way, as the I-TYPE 1.
Evans, from New Zealand, is considered an up-and-comer with karting and open-wheel championship titles, including the 2012 GP3 Championship. He has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing second in-class in 2015. In 2016, he competed in the GP2 Series for Campos Racing.
Ho-Pin Tung, from China, has experience in F3, A1GP, GP2, WEC, IMSA, IndyCar, and F1 testing, and he attempted to qualify for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 but crashed. Tung also is the only one of the three with Formula E experience, having competed in three races in the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship season.
The team would not confirm what Panasonic’s role will be, but the company’s knowledge of electronics will certainly come into play in future seasons, as the series transitions to a single car per race (battery drain requires two cars per team, per race, now). Batteries are spec items supplied by Formula E, and the McLaren motors are governed. Differences in teams largely amount to chassis setup, tire management, power management, and driver ability.
The 2016-2017 schedule has only one race in the U.S. at present, as the series will not return to Long Beach, California, due to an inability to make the financial numbers work for Long Beach promoters. Miami, on the first year’s schedule, remains without a race.
The series will end the season in New York City July 29-30, and the Jaguar team hopes at least one more U.S. date will fill one of the two “TBD” slots on the calendar in April and June, possibly a race in or near San Francisco. There will be at least five new venues, including Marrakech, Morocco and Brussels, Belgium.
One thing Jaguar knows: It won’t be easy. Carroll and Evans were near the bottom of the time chart at the recent test at Donington Park in the U.K., but the team insists they were going for total track time, not top speed.
James Barclay, Panasonic Jaguar Racing team director, said, “Everyone has worked very hard over the last nine months to prepare for our debut. We want to be successful on and off the track. We know that the challenge will be strong—our competitors have a two-year head start. We will be keeping our expectations in check in our first season.”