Jaguar Racing has pulled out all the stops for Formula E's first campaign as an FIA World Championship, with development of its I-TYPE 5 centring around an all-new powertrain, suspension and state-of-the-art invertor.
The team has tweaked its driver line-up, too, with Sam Bird flying the Envision Virgin Racing nest after Berlin, to land a manufacturer drive with the historic British marque.
The 33-year-old is one of a select group of drivers to have competed in every Formula E race since the series' inception in 2014, tallying nine wins, 18 podiums, five pole positions and five fastest laps to-date - with one of those victories coming at the Diriyah opener in 2019.
“Formula E is a familiar racing environment to me but having recently joined Jaguar, I am very motivated to get the best on track results possible and to start Season 7 with positive momentum," said Bird.
"I’ve spent a lot of time with my engineers over the last few months and it’s been great to get in the Jaguar I-TYPE 5 for some pre-season testing. With a new team comes a refreshed vigour to perform on track – I am excited to take on the double-header in Diriyah and push for my first points with Jaguar Racing. I’ve won there not so long ago so can’t wait to get going.”
He joins Mitch Evans, whose 2019/20 season was one of two halves, as was Jaguar's. Heading into Berlin, the Kiwi found himself just 11 points back from standings leader Antonio Felix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH) and a real contender after making the podium in Chile and winning in Mexico.
The downturn in Berlin was inexplicable, with Evans managing a best of just seventh on the way to seventh spot in the Drivers' standings. He's determined to make amends in 2020/21, starting at a circuit he's gone well at before.
🌙 All-electric racing under the lights of Diriyah 🌙— Jaguar Racing (@JaguarRacing) February 24, 2021
Witness the @Jaguar I-TYPE 5 in the first-ever night race in @FIAFormulaE ⚡️
The team is ready.@mitchevans_& @sambirdofficial are ready.
Are YOU ready to go green in #DiriyahEPrix? #JaguarElectrifies#RaceToInnovatepic.twitter.com/iKneJPXGUE
“Over the last five seasons we’ve really grown as a team, achieving multiple podiums with our most recent win being Mexico City in 2020," said Evans. "With these memories comes a gritty determination to continue to build on that success.
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"I’m really looking forward to starting the season in Diriyah having set the fastest lap in the first race last time out before I sadly missed out on a podium spot in the second race, I’m hungry for success and as a team we’re determined to start season seven in the strongest possible position.”
It's been back to the drawing board over the off-season for the team in a bid to rediscover its early Season 6 pace and promise and Team Director James Barclay is full of anticipation as to what the squad may achieve in this inaugural World Championship season.
“There is huge motivation and excitement to get our fifth season underway and it is particularly special as the first ABB FIA Formula E season as a World Championship," said Barclay. "We are starting the season with a focus and determination to achieve points, podiums and wins and with our new driver pairing our potential is better than ever.
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"We have spent months developing the Jaguar I-TYPE 5 and we are now looking forward to take to the track in Diriyah for the double-header season opener and first ever Formula E night races. We have enjoyed the racing and learned a lot from our past races in Diriyah and look forward to a great start to this World Championship season.”
Fenestraz signs on
French-Argentine driver, Sacha Fenestraz was announced as Jaguar Racing’s reserve driver this week and joins the team for the opening race weekend season in Diriyah.
Fenestraz, 21, is no stranger to the British racing team, having driven for Jaguar Racing in the 2020 Rookie Test in Marrakesh. Jaguar were impressed with his track-record in some of the most competitive single-seater series in the world and his on-track performance after one day in the Jaguar I-TYPE.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Jaguar Racing in Marrakesh last year," he said. "To now be the reserve driver for this iconic brand and alongside one of the strongest driver line-ups in the world championship is a big moment for me. Formula E offers a challenge very different to anything I have raced in before and I can’t wait to support the team and return to the electric racing paddock.”