How Jaguar saved its Formula E season with 1-2-3

Jaguar finally did well at the Sao Paulo E-Prix, underscoring its prospects of fighting back after a poor start to the season to challenge Porsche and DS for the 2023 Formula E World Championship.

But his victory was hard-fought, strategically challenging, and terrified. It even had a bizarre ending when winner Mitch Evans stopped just yards from the checkered flag.


Evans kept his own advice after the Hyderabad disaster – pictured above – when teammate Sam Bird accidentally took both cars out of contention when Evans was third.

There was no theatrics from Evans about the incident and, if anything, it even seems to have strengthened his relationship with Bird.

Still, there was great relief in Sao Paulo as he fended off colleague Nick Cassidy to take his first win since last August in Seoul, leading the Envision customer car in a Jaguar 1-2-3 while Bird was third.

“Definitely a huge relief,” Evans told The Race, immediately after a memorable and impromptu ride aboard a huge snarling Jaguar that was part of a fabulous post-race carnival flotilla of podium finishers.

“It got to a stage in the championship where I was like, ‘I’m doing a lot of good things, the team is doing a lot of good things, the number 9 car was really competitive’, but we just couldn’t convert.

“To be honest I came here with no pressure because I think we are doing a great job and just had a strong race.

“Obviously this race was extremely difficult to deal with when it came to playing a different phase of the race with the track position and desired finish, but there was a lot of work going on behind the scenes because we knew this track was going to be similar to this and the team understood amazingly.

“I had to play my card and also play my part to end up having that battle for positions with Nick and we timed it perfectly so full credit to the other guys it could have been Nicks today but that’s it a solid result to finally start the season.”

The Hidden Fear

It wouldn’t be a Gen3 FE race without a real heart-in-mouth moment, and Evans came on very early.

A strange noise in its powertrain made it tremble on the laps just past the safety car, and the spooks and goblins got a little louder as the race progressed.

“I could hear something in the powertrain. It was like an exchange of notes, almost like something…not grinding, but something not being happy,” Evans said.

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“It evolved from the first phase and got a little bit worse and then stabilized.

“At one point I thought I was throttling but I wasn’t, maybe I was in clean air so I didn’t have a drag effect, it was hard to know but I was pretty convinced there was some sort of problem.

“Fortunately, it hasn’t gotten worse or hampered performance.”

Jaguar technical director Phil Charles confirmed that Evans told the team he “felt something early in the race and then came back under the safety car and also on the final laps”.

“We’re going to investigate,” Charles continued. “He obviously finished the race strong so we don’t know exactly what it is and it will probably take a little bit to work out.”

A bit of luck

Gen3 races are strategic dogfights for teams. The power to grip ratio is an exciting challenge to say the least and drivers are now getting used to the inadvertently designed new way of driving and trying to set the car up.

Since the attack mode in Gen3 is not as effective as in Gen2, the focus is now much more on exploiting the strategy through caution phases and managing the allowed usable energy of 40kWh.

There were a few factors that presented major challenges for the teams at the Sambadrome track in Sao Paulo.

One was that the percentage of energy savings required was far higher, about 35% more than other races. For example, the Cape Town E-Prix required approximately 19.8%.

The second factor was the quirky mix of track surfaces, which Hankook’s Mike Choi described to The Race as “a big challenge for the teams”.

“We used several different types of asphalt here,” said Choi.

“On the front straight it’s actually concrete with a gray color that was actually used here for carnival purposes. After the first turn it transitions into the dark painted concrete and after turn 2 it’s pretty much like newly laid tarmac.

“When I see the condition of the newly laid asphalt, the macro and micro of the asphalt is relatively large. So that has an effect on tire wear.”

Interestingly, the different surfaces had large temperature swings, with the “carnival surface” being “10% cooler than the other surface,” according to Choi.

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These epic track challenges, both in terms of design and the complexity they created, meant that Jaguar’s strategy and operations team particularly deserved a round of caipirinhas on Saturday night.

“There’s a lot of strategy in the Gen3 races now and we have a really good strategy group and the Ops team has been very involved, our local strategy guys have been really involved in the flow of the race but it was able to Being able to make split-second decisions,” Charles said.

“We had a bit of luck in the extra laps that were added because they lengthened the race at a point where we were looking good with energy. So it was all about strategy.”

Charles knows, however, that it can also go the other way around. Cassidy witnessed this in Cape Town last month as he went from nailed winner to podium finish in the flash of Max Gunther’s safety car, resulting in Maserati being stuck on track.

“As much as it seems like a really crucial race to get your attacks in the right spot, sometimes the timing of when you charge and fall back when a group then pulls back at that point can get you into trouble,” he reckoned before Karl.

“Sometimes on a bad day you’re like, ‘Uh, what just happened?’

“Today is one of those days when decisions went in the right direction.”

Strange ending explained

Almost as soon as Evans and Cassidy crossed the checkered flag, both Jaguar I-Pace 6s remained on the track for an extended period.

As the scurrying mandarins on the podium began to hyperventilate, Jaguar have been in touch with the FIA ​​to try and get their cars home.

The explanation is relatively simple in the sense that there is a permissible amount of energy to be used in the RESS battery, each unit of which has a different capacity. But within that there is a small amount that is generally allowed by the FIA.

“We’re talking about a tiny amount, but they make that FIA-legal with a little bit of headroom on top and bottom,” explained Charles.

“Today when we drove all the cars across the finish line we used the FIA ​​legal energy and usually you back your car and you say, ‘I’m going to ignore the FIA ​​legal energy and use the rest of the state – for free’.

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“Today something got a little messed up in our code, we don’t know why, something specific to this event.

“We’ve obviously done this a million times, so we just have to go back and find out why. Perhaps something we changed on the steering wheel setting now disconnected a button that would have reset our energy to the non-FIA energy.

“The FIA ​​reset the power for us so we know something went wrong in our steering wheel setup. We’ve done this a million times, so obviously it’s a small bug in the code that got a bit confused and didn’t reset our reset button.”

Will snakes and ladders become springboards?

Exactly one year ago, Evans was in a low state in the first three races of the season in Mexico City and Riyadh with just one point to his name.

This time he had 14 points from five races when he hit Sao Paulo. Better but not great. It was clear that Brazil 2023 might be one last chance to embark on a title challenge.

Evans was blunt in his summary of where this result could take him, saying: “I’ve still got my sights set on the championship”. He is now ninth overall, 47 points away from leader Pascal Wehrlein.

“We just need a few good results and a few podiums here and there and we’ll be right back in the game,” Evans continued.

“We couldn’t help it later. I think that was our turning point before the rest of the season would have been a bit too difficult to catch up.

“I knew I needed something good at this race so I hope it’s the stepping stone for our start to the season.”

Evans boss James Barclay agreed on that point, saying: “I like to think we got our lows out of the way early on and can now focus on performing well.

“But the reality is it helps all the more that those who are strong in the Championship haven’t had a perfect weekend and it just helps close the gap. I think that’s a really good thing for the championship.

“We always talk about snakes and ladders, there are days when you step on the snakes and you really fall off, there are days when you climb the ladder and move forward and we look forward to a few more of those.” “

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