Jaguar will be without its talismanic technical leader Phil Charles as it prepares for its most important Formula E season to date.
Charles, who has been with the team since 2017, left the 2023 teams' championship runner-up after the recent Valencia pre-season test and is expected to take up a new senior-level role elsewhere in Formula E next year.
The surprise move comes at a crucial juncture for Jaguar as it will enter the new season in a prime position to win a so far elusive Formula E championship at what will be its seventh season as an entrant.
The move will be viewed as big news by the paddock as Charles was a highly respected technical leader, with a high level of influence in the technical management of the overall powertrain design and development.
He was also influential in the collective Formula E Teams and Manufacturers Association as well as working groups within Formula E for Jaguar, particularly around discussions and decisions concerning the future technical direction of the all-electric world championship.
Additionally Charles built the present incarnation of the technical team at Jaguar, hiring the majority of its key staff over the last five years. He also managed the Gen3 Evo project for Jaguar which will debut next season and be used for the 2024/25 and 2025/6 seasons.
He arrived at the team ahead of the 2017-18 season, arriving at the same time as Nelson Piquet Jr with whom he worked at the Renault F1 team in 2008 (below) and 2009.
Charles oversaw the engineering management of Jaguar and specifically the technical package throughout the Gen2 era and into the first Gen3 design, the Jaguar I-Type 6, last year.
That car was the most successful of the whole grid, winning eight races and taking the teams' title with Jaguar customer Envision.
While the move was viewed with initial surprise within Jaguar, a combination of planning for the forthcoming Gen3 Evo period and Charles' strong recruitment of key technical staff over the years that have formed possibly Formula E's best technical cell, leaves the team to believe there will be minimal disruption to the season 10 (2024/5) design.
Charles's decision to leave Jaguar is understood to have come about through his desire to pursue a new challenge, which is believed to be in Formula E, although it remains unclear as to the precise role and where he will work.
An official team statement acknowledged his departure from Jaguar, saying that Charles had been “a valuable member of the team for the last six years. He has been a part of the core team that have, together, achieved great results in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
“Phil has made the decision to leave the team to pursue a new opportunity. The whole team thanks Phil for his strong and positive contribution to the Jaguar TCS Racing team and we wish him all the best for the future.”
It is unclear where Charles will re-emerge in Formula E, although the Mahindra team has recently pursued an aggressive recruitment drive and is known to be looking for a new engineering leader after The Race recently revealed that its technical director Lewis Butler will leave the team at the end of 2023.
Frederic Bertrand is known to hold Charles in high esteem and is restructuring Mahindra's technical team. Several key announcements on new members of staff are expected from the team in the coming weeks.
As well as Butler leaving, its team manager Paul Willett also recently departed and was seen last week working for the Vector Sport WEC operation in the season finale in Bahrain.
The Race revealed last month that Mahindra has held discussions with the Mercedes AMG HPP division about a possible technical tie-up for the Gen3 Evo and Gen4 eras.
Mahindra already has staff that have experience of working with and in conjunction with the Brixworth-based company. These include present performance director Josef Holden and technical consultant Tony Ross.