Jaguar Formula E boss James Barclay admits that writing the next chapter in the long motor racing history of the British marque gives his team “huge responsibility”.
This weekend’s Hong Kong ePrix, which opens season three of the all-electric series, will mark Jaguar’s first works entry into a major international race since the end of its ill-fated F1 programme in 2004.
In five seasons of Grand Prix racing, Jaguar Racing failed to win a race, scoring only two podiums, and never finished higher than seventh in the constructors’ championship.
However, Barclay was eager to stress that the F1 venture was overseen by the company’s previous owners Ford (it is now owned by Tata), and that it was the British manufacturer’s prior successes in sportscar and touring car racing that the Formula E operation is hoping to emulate.
“Those last forays into motorsport with F1 was a different company, different organisation, different management structure,” said Barclay.
“The complexities of that programme have been well-documented; this is a fresh drive with new people.
“For me, that’s the key difference – we’ve got a group of people who know what it takes to be successful, which is crucial. [The F1 programme] was completely separate to who we are now.
“If you look at it as a whole, Jaguar has such an illustrious history in the sport. It’s a huge responsibility to write the next chapter of that successful past.”
Season one a "learning year"
Jaguar enjoyed a promising pre-season at Donington Park, where Mitch Evans – who joins Adam Carroll in the team’s driver line-up – finished 1.1s shy of reigning champion Sebastien Buemi on the final day.
Despite the encouragement, Barclay stressed that season one had to be treated as a “learning year” before the team can hope to begin regularly challenging the series’ front-running teams.
“From our point of view, Donington was really positive,” added Barclay. “We were probably one of the most reliable teams out there, and we didn’t get carried away with trying to set laptimes.
“We didn’t set the car up for Donington, we focussed on the job at hand.
“We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we would be successful, but it’s about being measured and realistic in when that comes.
“We can’t say we’re going to come in and dominate from day one. We have a lot of learning to do, and we’re treating this year as a learning year.”