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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Is Jaguar’s Return to Racing In Formula E Misguided?


Copyright © 2015 Bold Ride LLC.

As Jaguar continues its phoenix-esque ascent, the company has announced that it will once again return to the world of motorsport. Jaguar’s racing history is a storied one, but the company’s latest entry isn’t in any of the tiers Jaguar has ever been successful in before. Reeking of missed opportunity, Jaguar has announced that it will compete in the Formula E Championship.
Over the last few years, Jaguar has made its mark once again in the luxury automotive realm by offering customers a lineup of cars that are very in line with the company’s racing history. Most notably those cars receiving hugely powerful engines, nimble steering, and a soundtrack for the ages.


It’s why people have come back to the nameplate. Jaguar even brought back the iconic styling of the classic E-Type and D-Type for the company’s F-Type Project 7, a car many believed Jaguar would use as its basis to return to the world of racing. Obviously, that’s not the case.
Jaguar’s racing history is full of amazingly successful endurance and road racing teams, such as the hugely successful Le Mans team that won in 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956, and 1957 with both the C-Type and D-Type. After a brief interim, Jaguar returned with the help of Tom Walkinshaw’s TWR race team during the mid-80s and campaigned a successful European Touring Car Championship team and V8 Supercar team. In 1985, the TWR team began prepping one of Jaguar’s most infamous racecars, the Group C XJR.

A prototype Le Mans racecar, the TWR XJR and XJR-14 were the cars to beat on the grid, and now routinely trade hands privately for many millions of dollars. These cars won Le Mans in 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1991. Jaguar’s racing history is steeped in endurance and road racing, the company on the other hand has never been able to translate that success and excel in open-wheel racing. Something that’s painfully apparent by its now defunct Formula 1 team.

In 1999, Ford wanted back into Formula 1, and decided that Jaguar would be the perfect brand to do so. Instead starting from scratch and building a brand new car, Ford bought the Stewart Grand Prix team, helmed then by the great Sir Jackie Stewart, and rebadged the cars as Jaguar Racing. Between the new teams first outing in 2000 to the team’s last in 2004, it only achieved two podium finishes.


It must be stated however, that Jaguar itself was never involved in the actual building or the engineering of the cars. It was just a rebranding. Keeping that in mind, Jaguar’s Formula E debut seems to follow that same format.

In its press release, Jaguar said that it would continue its existing partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering, which isn’t really news since Williams provides the battery systems for every car on the grid. Additionally, Dallara provides all the chassis’ for the teams and only eight manufacturers within the series are allowed to build their own powertrains. None of which are Jaguar.

There’s no doubt in our minds that Jaguar’s return to racing is a good idea, we’re just not sure this is the right venue for the company. Speaking about the upcoming racecar entry, Alejandro Agag who is the CEO of Formula E stated, “people want to own a Jaguar, and we want people to want an electric car.

 So hopefully we can combine both.”  A great sentiment, but if the team does as well as its last open-wheel excursion, that might not be the case.

The current Formula E season has already kicked off, and Jaguar won’t receive its development cars until this spring. Meaning that we likely won’t see a Jaguar on the grid until at the very least, next season.