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Formula E

Has Formula E’s struggling giant solved its woes?

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Jaguar believes it has discovered “where we’ve been weak” in the opening three races of the Formula E season and has been “energised” during the eight-week break between races to correct that form at this weekend’s Rome E-Prix.

The team was tipped as a title challenger pre-season, but its one-lap pace has been lacking at tracks where its drivers have previously been strong and the 13 points Sam Bird and Mitch Evans have accrued so far marks Jaguar’s worst start to a campaign since its maiden season in 2016-17, when it failed to score a point in the opening three races.

Bird has made the team’s only appearance in the duel stage of Formula E’s new qualifying format, qualifying fifth and finishing fourth in the opening race of the season in Diriyah, while team-mate Evans has a best qualifying of 11th and best finish of 10th.

It is mired in seventh position in the teams’ standings, 55 points off leader and its 2021 title rival Mercedes EQ.

Team principal James Barclay told The Race after the last event in Mexico that “we have to be honest; we have work to do”.

Now, Jaguar reckons it has discovered something within its package and how it is deployed, particularly in qualifying.

“We have identified where we’ve been weak and everybody at the factory has really got on board with tackling the issue and understanding it more and putting it right for Rome,” Sam Bird told The Race.

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“I don’t think there’s any panic, I believe that we will be far more competitive in Rome.

“Whereabouts in the pecking order? I don’t know. But I’m hoping right at the sharp end again.”

Bird rejected any suggestion that Jaguar may have become complacent in the final Gen2 season, as it gets set to divide its resources between the current campaign and the Gen3 testing programme that will kick in next month.

Jaguar, like most of the seven Gen3 manufacturers, will be adding extra resources to its team for a busy period in which testing of the new hardware will take place between a tightly packed remainder of the racing season.

Manufacturers are expected to receive their cars just after the Monaco E-Prix at the end of April and be in a state to test later in May, depending on whether the new battery is available.

“I wouldn’t say that before we were complacent, but we just believed that we could take what we had last year, plonk it on the ground and we’d be really quick,” said Bird.

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“A lot of the focus has been on Gen3 and I definitely wouldn’t say that we’ve taken our own eye off the ball for this season.

“But we didn’t necessarily look into enough detail at certain aspects. Mexico really highlighted some things for us as a team that we needed to improve on.

“It’s been great to have this gap because I feel like everybody’s really energised to get this correct. So, I feel like we’ve used the gap wisely and we go to Rome confident that we’re going to have a much better showing.”

Although Bird would not give precise details of Jaguar’s issues, it is believed that several Formula E teams have at least in part seen a relative drop-off in one-lap pace due to how the mechanical differential is working with its powertrain control systems.

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While there is no suggestion that Jaguar has suffered this precise issue, it is understood to have been an area worked on at length with the Jaguar I-Type 5 car upon its introduction at the beginning of the 2021 season.

Active differentials are not allowed in Formula E, but the mechanical differentials are an intrinsic part of setting up the Gen2 cars.

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