PMW attended the official unveiling of Jaguar’s Formula E team, and its new I-Type all-electric race car, at Jaguar’s Gaydon Heritage Center
Jaguar today launched its fledgling Formula E team at its heritage centre in Gaydon, where the newly unveiled I-Type electric race car was quickly placed on display between two illustrious forebears, the C-Type and D-Type Le-Mans winners. Arguably the most natural name for the new electric car E-Type has of course long been taken.
At the launch, Jaguar executives underscored the link between motor racing and road-car development, both in the past and in terms of the future electrification of the Jaguar line-up.
Nick Rogers, executive director of Panasonic Jaguar Racing, said that his new team would be backed up by the full resources of Jaguar Land Rover including 9,000 engineers.
Like all Formula E teams the new Panasonic Jaguar Racing team has relatively limited ability to modify its car. Chassis, aerodynamics, front suspension, tyres and battery are all standardised and supplied to the teams by the Formula E championship organisation. Teams compete from the battery rearwards to create their own rear suspension, control electronics, motor and gearbox.
Jaguar has been working with its technical partner, Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), since late last year to develop the various bespoke components for the new I-Type. Craig Wilson, managing director of WAE told PMW that the timeline was very tight.
“We’re involved in developing within all the areas of freedom,” said Wilson. “We’ve had a very, very aggressive development for the I-Type 1, being shown today. We only started in November and we had to homologate in March that’s an FIA requirement. That included manufacturing of parts and testing. So in terms of design we probably only had two months.”
Last season only Formula E’s second ever championship was also the first to allow teams to modify the powertrain. A wide variety of solutions were developed from twin motors with a single fixed gear through to a single motor with five gears.
Wilson said the I-Type will employ a single motor with a two gears, a setup also employed by the Renault e.Dams team that won the 2015-16 championship. Wilson conceded that there was a similarity: “In any form of product development you look at what your competitors are doing and of course you benchmark, but it was from our own simulations,” he said. “We did a lot of simulation and based on that data, that’s what we chose to run with for this season.”
Unlike Formula 1, Formula E cars are fixed from a hardware standpoint from the start of pre-season testing in August through to the final race of the championship the following year. Teams are allowed to modify only the control software used to supervise the flow of energy from the battery to the rear wheels.
WAE is also the manufacturer of the standardised battery supplied to all the teams participating in Formula E. Wilson said that this inside knowledge of the workings of the battery was not a particular advantage for the Jaguar team, because the flow of energy from the battery is regulated and governed in the same fashion for all teams. He said that from a team standpoint the battery is treated as a black box with specified capabilities. Batteries are also not supplied direct to the teams from WAE but via series manufacturer Spark, meaning Williams is not in a position to pick a particular unit with advantageous performance, for example.
8th September 2016