In the run up to the return of Formula E, Last-Lap is looking at every team and analysing their lineup, their livery and their chances in 2021.
Read the other teams previews here:
When I decided to do this preview series in reverse Season 6 championship order I was surprised to find Jaguar ended the season in seventh position.
I thought their season was much better than the numbers concluded at the end.
I did tip Mitch Evans for the title which the final six races proved was not the way to go.
Jaguar suffered greatly in the return to racing in Berlin. Mitch Evans started the post lockdown leg second in the championship, 11 points off Antonio Felix Da Costa with one of Formula E’s most dominant victories in Mexico City as well as a charge from the back of the grid to sixth in Marrakesh.
Many tipped Evans and Jaguar to bring it home in Berlin and take their first title since they joined FE in Season 3. But they were bested by Da Costa and DS Techeetah.
It wasn’t just Techeetah who outraced them.
Evans was overtaken in the championship by Stoffel Vandoorne, Jean-Eric Vergne, Sebastien Buemi, Oliver Rowland and Lucas Di Grassi. He ended up seventh in the drivers standings.
Whilst the championship hopes fizzled out on one side of the garage, the hopes of a second season in FE were the worries on the other.
James Calado was only able to manage two points finishes early on in the season, one of these being heavily assisted by penalties for those who finished ahead on the road.
Calado definitely struggled to click with the Gen2 FE car, similar to Neel Jani in the Porsche team. Both are hugely fast and successful drivers in sportscars but were unable to succeed in Formula E.
Calado fled to WEC for the final two rounds of the season and was replaced by Tom Blomqvist who appeared to instantly ‘get’ what was required from him, qualifying in Super Pole on debut and doing what Jaguar had wanted from Calado in the latter half of the season.
Blomqvist earned himself a drive at the NIO 333 Team for Season 7 and could well be a match for the unflappable Oliver Turvey.
Jaguar rode a wave through much of the 2019-20 season but when push came to shove they had fallen behind their rivals and were unable to make the inroads necessary to keep the fight at the top alive.
But a bold new signing for Season 7 could spell renewed success for one of Formula E’s most popular teams.
Mitch Evans remains with the team that has been his home since 2016 when Jaguar joined the series. There has always been a degree of faith from both sides with Evans delivering when the Jaguar can as well.
Two wins, one in Rome, the other Mexico both proved his class. One was won in an intense fight with Andre Lotterer, the other came from blitzing the start and just proving untouchable from then on.
Evans is ready for a title, Season 6 proved as much. It is in Jaguar’s timeline to be staying in the title fight till the final race this year and all their faith will be with Evans as it always as been.
“This is my fifth season with the team and we are more determined than ever to make this the most successful year we’ve had together.” said Evans about his prospects.
“We’ve made a number of adaptations to the car and although there is a lot to analyse, I’m feeling confident that we’re heading in a good direction.”
Coming in to partner Evans at Jaguar is a driver that clearly shows Jaguar’s intentions for years to come.
Sam Bird has taken part in every race in Formula E’s history, he has taken nine victories and 19 podiums. He is the only driver to win a race in every season but has not taken a championship, he did stay in the fight till the final race in Season 4 however.
Leaving Envision Virgin was a big step for Bird, they were the salvation of his racing career in 2014 at Formula E’s inception and no doubt there is an immense debt of loyalty between the two parties.
Moving to Jaguar is as much as positive for Bird as it is for Jaguar. Envision Virgin had been consistently fast in the Gen2 era but have been a customer team to Audi since 2018 when DS was courted to a partnership with Techeetah.
The opportunity to become the star man at a team that has grown every year they’ve been in FE is the risk Bird needs to take to jump from perennial underdog to top dog.
Bird’s move is one of the most exciting of the Season 7 driver moves. He is a known quantity, he has performed admirably against all teammates, including two time champion Vergne and obliterated former Jaguar driver Alex Lynn.
There is a lot of buzz around his first opportunity at the wheel of a Jaguar.
Bird said after testing in Valencia: “Testing has been really interesting for me as a new driver with Jaguar Racing.
“We’ve learned a lot about the car – the hardware, the software and the systems – and we’ve understood what works well and how we can make the Jaguar I-TYPE 5 go faster.
“Overall it’s been a really useful test. I’m very happy with the way that I’ve integrated with the team – from my new engineers to my new mechanics, everyone has been really welcoming and I’m looking forward to going into the season with lots of positive learnings.”
There hasn’t been much change to the Jaguar livery since the start of their Formula E era in Season 3. The neon aqua combined with the carbon grey has stayed all the way through with only cosmetic changes coming year on year.
2021 features the biggest changes with a few more patterns but that is all. Again similar to Porsche when it comes to the concept, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
It pops on the FE grid.
How will Season 7 go?
This is a hard one to call.
Jaguar were always on a rise and Season 6 seemed to confirm that until half way through when they lost their way.
But their teams championship position last season is a harsher picture then it should be. With two strong drivers in Season 7 hopefully when one driver doesn’t perform there is still one there to fight. The days of being a one man team are over for Jaguar.
Both James Barclay (Team Director) and Phil Charles (Technical Manager) were upbeat following the test days in Valencia. They weren’t shouting from the rooftops about their victory chances but there were at least quietly confident of a decent showing.
Barclay said: “The pre-season test in Valencia has been a constructive three days for us at Jaguar Racing.
“We’ve focussed on getting the new Jaguar I-TYPE 5 up to speed, learning more about the new car and continuing our preparations ahead of Santiago.
“To finish with Mitch in P5 was a good indication that we’ve got some promising car speed but we need to keep working hard behind the scenes before the first races in January.
“We’re really pleased with the progress we’ve made here in Valencia but there is still time to improve before the first race.”
Jaguar look to be in a similar position to the past season, fast and assured, but a full championship charge will be tough against some very heavy hitters that beat them last year.