Formula E engineering guru Phil Charles on his big move to DS PENSKE from Jaguar

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Formula E engineering guru Phil Charles on his big move to DS PENSKE from Jaguar

Phil Charles' move to DS PENSKE has been hailed as an Adrian Newey-like grab for the team. What brought about the big Formula E tech switch?

DS PENSKE Jaguar Phil Charles

Charles is among the most influential technical minds in the Formula E paddock, and following a long stint with Jaguar TCS Racing, the Brit has made a move to DS PENSKE as their new Deputy Team Principal.

His prior role was Technical Manager at Jaguar - where had wide-ranging responsibilities, across all technical aspects of the team. It's a long-term deal and São Paulo marks Charles' first on-track event with the team, though he's been in the role for slightly longer. He'll be across everything at DS - from tech to finance and team management.

"I come here as Deputy Team Principal and it’s a role that’s got a good amount of freedom – there’s a good input into the racing and engineering side but a rounded view, as well, across finance and the rest of the organisation," says Charles.

Why did Phil Charles leave Jaguar for DS PENSKE?

Charles cited two key figures in his decision to switch teams: team boss Eugenio Franzetti and the team's double champion Jean-Eric Vergne. Both were mightily persuasive, he says.

"There are two main reasons why: the first one is Jean-Eric Vergne and the second one is Eugenio [Franzetti, Director of DS Performance].

"JEV grabbed me and said ‘you’ve got to come!’ and then Eugenio was really amazingly persuasive – he stands for everything that I stand for. He wants to go out there and make things better, he’s desperate to win races – so ultimately, that’s why I’m here.

"The team has great drivers and good people, Jay Penske, too."

It's not taken Charles long to get a sense of the quality of people working at DS PENSKE. A good proportion of the outfit's personnel are those that delivered multiple titles as the prior DS TECHEETAH incarnation of the DS Formula E entry, and those same people are now under Charles' charge, as he seeks to inject fresh impetus and new ideas as the team looks to find its GEN3 feet.

"The team were second in the championship before I arrived and that’s a really great start," continues Charles. "The main thing I’ve learned so far is that there are a large amount of very, very good people here. It’s a really great team – and it’s a large percentage of the team that won back-to-back titles not so long ago. That’s tribute to the team.

"Sometimes when you win and you’re prolific, you can start getting closed in your view and a bit conservative, and that’s where I come in – my tails up, I’m going to inject some new ideas and I’m really enthusiastic. I can’t tell you how long it will take, but I can tell you I’m up for the challenge with a good backbone of people here."

Phil Charles Jaguar trophy

What about Jaguar?

Will he be a big miss at Jaguar, then? Mitch Evans, in conversation with The Race, seems to think so - with Charles "controlling pretty much every aspect of the team: from race team to powertrain and R&D - it's definitely left a big hole, for sure.

The team for now, at least, look to have shaken off his departure at the end of last season - with Jaguar TCS Racing heading the Teams' World Championship and Nick Cassidy yet to finish lower than third in Season 10, as he leads the Drivers' standings.

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