For the first time since 2004, the Jaguar name will next season have a presence on the international motorsport scene.
The Indian-owned firm has revealed that it will enter the 2016/17 FIA Formula E Championship for electric single-seaters, after joining forces with Williams Advanced Engineering.
The announcement marks the end of an 11-year lay-off for Jaguar, which last competed on the global stage in Formula 1. That programme, which took in 85 Grands Prix over a five-year period before the team was sold to Red Bull, yielded just two podium finishes, at Monaco in 2001 and in Italy a year later.
Now, however, with Jaguar in a much better place than it was in 2004, it is aiming to showcase its technological prowess – in conjunction with Williams – having taken over the entry vacated by ex-F1 racer Jarno Trulli’s team.
The deal comes at a time when Jaguar Land Rover will manufacture electric-powered vehicles for the first time, something that JLR’s Group Engineering Director Nick Rogers confirms is a vital new part of the firm’s remit.
‘Electric vehicles will absolutely play a role in Jaguar Land Rover’s future product portfolio and Formula E will give us a unique opportunity to further our development of electrification technologies. The Championship will enable us to engineer and test our advanced technologies under extreme performance conditions.
‘It is my belief that over the next five years we will see more changes in the automotive world than in the last three decades. The future is about being more connected and more sustainable; electrification and lightweight technologies are becoming more important than ever as urbanisation continues to increase. Formula E has recognised and reacted to these trends and the championship’s exciting and pioneering approach is the perfect fit for our brand.’
James Barclay, Jaguar Team Director, admitted that Jaguar had been eyeing a return to the forefront of competition for some time.
‘We looked in detail at alternative ways of returning to motorsport. This was such an important decision for Jaguar and we wanted to get it right. With our future EV plans, Formula E was the obvious choice and we believe that the benefits are enormous. The FIA and the promoter have exciting plans for the future of the championship and we are proud to be one of the first vehicle manufacturers to commit to the series with our own team. We have a lot of work to do ahead of the first race but it is a challenge we relish. We hope that we can welcome a new generation of fans to Jaguar through this exciting programme.’
And with Jaguar’s commitment to Formula E, there is hope from on high, including FIA president Jean Todt, that other manufacturers will join in.
‘The FIA is pleased to welcome Jaguar as a new manufacturer to enter the FIA Formula E Championship,’ Todt said. ‘We built this series to offer an alternative competition for manufacturers to step into the sport and develop road-relevant electric technologies. The choice of Jaguar to come back to motor racing with Formula E is a proof of success. As it forges a path forward for the future of the electric car, Formula E managed to attract one of the most prestigious and historical brand across the automotive industry. I wish them success ahead of their arrival in 2016/2017.’
Jaguar has yet to announce any drivers for the two-car team, or whether it will stick with tradition and run the Dallara-built machines in British Racing Green, but we’ll be keeping an eye on developments.
Let’s hope the project is more successful than the F1 effort. We recall Jaguar doing rather better during its two campaigns in the World Sportscar Championship and at Le Mans – during the 1950s with the C- and D-types and again in the late-80s and early-‘90s with the Group C XJR racers – and making a decent fist of the European Touring Car Championship with the XJS in the mid-‘80s.
Photography courtesy of Jaguar