Jaguar has officially launched its 2016-2017 Formula E team as the British brand returns to factory motorsport for the first time in more than a decade. With electronics giant Panasonic as its title sponsor and the Lear Corporation as its official partner, Jaguar Racing will enter its new Formula E car, the l-Type 1, with drivers Mitch Evans from New Zealand and Northern Ireland’s Adam Carroll. Chinese racer Ho-Pin Tung will be the reserve driver. The l-Type 1 has been developed in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering, an offshoot of the Williams F1 team. Jaguar will use the series as research and development for its electric road car programme.
Talking at the launch event, Jaguar Land Rover product engineering boss Nick Rogers said: “The team is a key part of our product development. In future, we will have roads that use a lot of the technology, electronic controls, propulsion systems and batteries. You will soon be hearing about vehicles that use this technology.” Panasonic Jaguar Racing chairman Gerd Mauser added: “Our mission is to change the image of electric vehicles. Over the past five years, there has been an unstoppable momentum towards electric vehicles. We can look forward to a series of exciting advancement.”
Team director James Barclay acknowledged the team would have some catching up to do. “We want to be successful on and off the track,” he said. “We know 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. Ultimately we’re here to win, but we’re here to innovate, too.”
BMW has a tie-up with Andretti Autosport and BMW factory driver Antonio Felix da Costa will race for them in the new season, while Audi has announced that its partnership with ABT Schaeffler will become a full factory effort from the 2017-2018 season.
Volvo is also mulling a possible future entry for its Polestar performance brand. The Formula Eventure is Jaguar’s first factory motorsport effort since its underwhelming performance in Formula 1, which lasted from 2000 to 2004. The third Formula E season gets underway on the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday 9 October.