Jaguar is planning an exciting return to motorsport, which will also bring technological benefits for its future road cars
Eleven years after its departure from Formula 1, Jaguar has announced its return to global single-seater racing with an entry into the Formula E championship for electric-powered cars. Williams Advanced Engineering, which worked with Jaguar on its C-X75 hybrid supercar, will be technical partner to the race team, working with Jaguar Land Rover engineers to develop the company’s electric vehicle technology for both race and road.
The move comes after the Trulli Formula E team withdrew from the championship, freeing up an entry – which Jaguar was more than happy to fill. In a press conference on the 35th floor of the Shard in London, Jaguar explained the aims of the venture, though it was keen to point out that plans are at an early stage, with further information to follow during next year. It’s expected that testing will begin in spring, ready for the first race, at Montreal in September 2016. Drivers are yet to be announced.
Despite the news following on immediately from Trulli’s exit, team director James Barclay was keen to point out that there is no relationship between the two teams. Jaguar will be making a fresh start in the newly available slot.
Nick Rogers, JLR Group engineering director, confirmed that Jaguar is developing a portfolio of electric-powered road vehicles. ‘Electrification is the future, and technology is key to our DNA. JLR is the largest innovator and investor in R&D in the UK,’ he said. ‘How do we accelerate, decelerate and scoop up every single watt as efficiently as possible? Formula E pushes those boundaries, so it’s the perfect testbed for the zero-emissions technology we’re working on for JLR road cars.’
But isn’t Formula E lacking in aural appeal? The zing of an electric motor isn’t quite up there with the yowl of a Ferrari V12, after all. ‘Great racing is what draws people in,’ said Barclay. ‘And we’re all about keeping it authentic,’ said Rogers. So don’t expect a synthesised soundtrack on the racetrack – but should we be hopeful of some success?
‘Racing is in the Jaguar DNA, and this is a technology adventure’ said Barclay. ‘The Formula E championship is innovative and has young appeal. It’s the right time for Jaguar to be back in racing.’
Jaguar’s F1 entry failed to win a single race between 2000 and 2004, before the team sold out to Red Bull – which has since won four manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships. No matter what success is achieved on the track, we can expect a raft of smooth, swift and silent electric road cars in the years to come, from both Jaguar and Land Rover. It’s a new spin on grace, pace and space.
Words: Glen Waddington